Money Cryptocurrency boom leaves Vancouver exchange scrambling

17:28  11 january  2018
17:28  11 january  2018 Source:   vancouversun.com

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A Vancouver company is facing angry and panicked complaints from high risk investors who fear it has mismanaged their trade in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies . Einstein Exchange has seen scores of complaints, threats of legal action, calls for police intervention

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A Vancouver company is facing angry and panicked complaints from high risk investors who fear it has mismanaged their trade in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

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Einstein Exchange has seen scores of complaints, threats of legal action, calls for police intervention, and even allegations of fraud in recent weeks related to claims of vanished purchases, unmet requests to cash out or move coins, and unresponsive customer support.

Michael Gokturk, the director of Einstein Exchange, said that he felt “heartbroken” to hear customer complaints that were put to him during a lengthy interview Wednesday and explained the company never anticipated the massive interest that has left it backlogged.

“They have a right to be upset, whether it’s a $1 customer or a $10 million customer. When you’re dealing with people’s money they’re absolutely right. We just can’t get to them fast enough,” Gokturk said.

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All Activity. Home. Cryptocurrency boom leaves Vancouver exchange scrambling - Einstein Exchange .

A Vancouver company is facing angry and panicked complaints from high risk investors who fear it has mismanaged their trade in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies . 11 January 2018 03:56. Subject: Cryptocurrency exchange .

When prices for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies spiked in recent weeks, currency exchanges were slammed with applications for new trading accounts. Waits for online account verification — a cumbersome and preliminary step required by most exchanges — grew from days to weeks in some cases.

But Einstein Exchange was different. It claimed waiting times of less than 60 seconds for cryptocurrency purchases by Visa, Mastercard, American Express or bank draft, according to its website, and “instant sign-up and verification for Canadians,” according to its ad on Google. In five months, the exchange —‚ while still in beta form — grew from zero customers to about 30,000, by Gokturk’s count.

What those customers experienced with the company depends on who you ask. Tyler Jackson, from Lexington, Kentucky, put his experience plainly.

“This company is shady and doesn’t seem to care about their customers,” Jackson said in a recent email. “There seems to be no hope in getting my money back …”

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Jackson’s story begins on Christmas Day, when he received $200 as a gift. He decided to spend it on Bitcoin, which he bought through Einstein Exchange, he said.

Later when he tried to pull out his funds, he got a message that he needed to be verified first. So he sent the company copies of his bank statement and drivers licence, and a selfie holding that licence. He said he is still waiting.

Terrence Brannon, reached last week at a Motel 6 in Asheville, North Carolina, said he signed up then clicked to buy $200 USD in Bitcoin with his credit card on Dec. 10.

Unable to withdraw his money, move it to a different exchange, reach the company, or even log into his account, he filed a dispute through his credit card company. He too is still waiting for resolution, he said.

The two men’s stories mimic several told to Postmedia by people from around North America who had invested sums ranging from $200 CAD t0 $15,000 USD through the company. Many of those interviewed would not agree to go on the record out of concern it would damage their professional or personal relationships. One, an investment adviser from Nova Scotia, said he had “likely kissed his money goodbye.”

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A Vancouver -based cryptocurrency exchange is scrambling to handle what the founder calls an avalanche of interest in digital currencies that overwhelmed his company's staff and computer system and left clients fearing they'd lost their money.

Federal officials in Washington are scrambling to get a handle on the sudden boom in cryptocurrencies as questions swirl about their place in the financial system. The heads of both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trade Commission (CFTC)

The stories also resemble dozens of complaints found online, including those on a Reddit forum moderated by employees of Einstein Exchange. “SCAM,” “Screwed out of $1,350,” “Bad service,” and “Fraud: Report to B.C. Securities Commission” were the headlines of just a sample of negative posts about the company.

“Suing Einstein Exchange for losses and negligence,” read another, which appeared to be seeking people to join a class action.

Gokturk said about 55 per cent of the complaints the company has received relate to its verification process, which is performed manually by staff who work on the top floor of a downtown office building. It is a tight, warm work space packed with computers, monitors, tickers and 14 employees who perform various functions.

Gokturk said it takes one person one hour to approve 30 verifications, and the company recently stopped taking on new customers to handle its backlog.

“We are pro rules and governance, we are pro transparency,” he said, adding that the company wanted to work with regulators to “help write the rules” and put policies in place to protect customers.

Alison Walker, a spokeswoman for the BCSC, said depending on the operations or location of a particular cryptocurrency marketplace, it may not fall within its regulatory jurisdiction.

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There has also been discontent among users of cryptocurrency exchange services at another Vancouver company, Einstein Exchange . Cryptocurrency boom leaves Vancouver exchange scrambling .

“Complaints about exchanges can be directed to the BCSC. If the BCSC is not the appropriate agency, we can direct the complaint to other organizations accordingly,” she said.

When asked whether police would be an appropriate venue to take complaints about local companies active in the cryptocurrency field, Jason Robillard, a VPD spokesman was unable to get a definitive answer.

Some of the jurisdictional uncertainty is around the question of whether cryptocurrencies are securities. While the BCSC considers Bitcoin to be a commodity, Canadian securities regulators have determined some initial coin offerings are distributions of securities, Walker said.

Cristie Ford, an associate professor at the University of B.C.’s Peter A. Allard School of Law, said to her recollection no authority had deemed Bitcoin, for example, to be a security.

“I do not believe that Einstein is a scam,” Condy said by email.

“They have an office that processes applications, withdrawals, and deposits face to face (and) most of the team has reached out to me,” he said, adding that he has been able to deposit more money and move it off the platform speedily and without issue. But he said it was a poor decision for the company to take new money while working out kinks.

Many customers have also taken to social media to report that the company had sorted out their concerns.

On Monday, Einstein Exchange added 30 call centre workers in Montreal to help handle customer inquiries 24/7, Gokturk said.

When Postmedia phoned the company Wednesday, the estimated wait time to speak to a representative was 27 minutes, down from recent claims of hours.

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