A cryptocurrency platform paralyzes the withdrawal of funds from its clients in the midst of the fall of bitcoin and ethereum
Image of a cryptocurrency event organized by CoinDesk in Austin, Texas, on June 9.
Image of a cryptocurrency event organized by CoinDesk in Austin, Texas, on June 9.Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

The crypto universe is facing its second major crisis in just one month. The American platform Celsius Network, which according to its figures manages more than 11,000 million euros in client assets, announced this Monday that it will not allow withdrawals of funds or transfers between accounts “to stabilize liquidity and operations”, damaged due to to “extreme market conditions”, according to the firm, referring to the sharp falls suffered by the main digital currencies in recent weeks.

The message, published on the entity’s blog, has immediately sowed uncertainty among those who have entrusted their savings to Celsius, which offers cryptocurrency purchase services, but also the possibility of accessing low-interest loans, and high remuneration for who give them their assets. “Transfer your cryptocurrencies to Celsius and you can be collecting an annual return of up to 18.63% in a matter of minutes,” promises its website.

Among the responses they have received on their Twitter account, where they have also posted the link to the blog where they give the bad news, there are restless users. “Half of my cryptocurrencies, all the cryptocurrencies of my mother, all of my sister and all of some friends are in Celsius thanks to the fact that I was an idiot,” says one of them, who recommended his entourage to use Celsius. “I can’t even pay my damn loan because of the transfer freeze. It’s ridiculous,” laments another.

In her post, Celsius tries to strike a reassuring tone. He insists that his clients will continue to receive the promised returns even if they cannot trade with their money for now. “We are taking this action today to put Celsius in a better position to meet its withdrawal obligations over time.” However, they acknowledge that the process “will take time and there may be delays.”

Conceived in the summer of 2017 by Alex Mashinsky and S. Daniel Leon, who according to their website timeline outlined their creation on a coffee shop napkin, the platform was available in 100 countries just two and a half years later. In March 2021 it surpassed $10 billion in assets under management, and a month later it had 200 employees in its offices in New Jersey, London, Tel Aviv, Cyprus and Serbia.

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In a promotional video with which they try to attract customers, Mashinsky thus encourages them to create an account in Celsius. “Banks are not your friends, we all know that. That’s why we decided to create a substitute for the banking system, where you can have your money working for you and not just you working for your money. Three years after launching the product, we have returned $1 billion to the community.” That phrase, that of “banks are not your friends”, appears repeatedly in the interventions of Mashinsky, who has now spread on his Twitter account the blog post announcing the freezing of his clients’ funds without making any comment.

After hearing the news, the firm’s token, with which users can pay for certain Celsius services, sank around 60%. And what is more disturbing, the entire crypto market has plunged into the red, also encouraged by the rise in inflation in the US, which anticipates new movements in interest rates by the Federal Reserve: bitcoin lost this Monday 13%, up to 23,000 dollars, and has already left two thirds of its value since the maximum of 69,000 dollars reached in November. Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by capitalization, was down 17%, to $1,215, and in the last six months it has also lost two-thirds of what it once was worth.

The crisis comes a month after one of the biggest fiascoes in the history of the sector, the collapse of Luna and USD, owned by Terra Networks, which caused some 40,000 million dollars to volatilize and left a trail of affected people all over the planet.

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