Bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins, often used as a gauge of bitcoin interest and prices around the world, has suddenly begun suspending long-time users' accounts without warning.
Reports began coming in this week that LocalBitcoins users across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have had their accounts "deactivated."Bitcoin users around the world have complained that LocalBitcoins has suddenly suspended their ... [+] accounts without explanation. NurPhoto via Getty Images
Messages seen by this reporter were sent to account holders by LocalBitcoins in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, and Pakistan informing them they could "withdraw [their] bitcoins by deleting [their] account," though some users have claimed to be unable to do so.
LocalBitcoin, a peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange which was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, was unable to be reached for comment.
"One of my customers was due to travel out of the country and had to sell some of his bitcoin to be able to go only to notice on his way to the airport that he cannot even access his funds," said one LocalBitcoins user of three years in Nigeria, who wanted their identity to remain anonymous, adding their account had been suspended on Monday morning with no indication of when it might be reactivated.
According to the message received by users, LocalBitcoins now requires users in some countries to go through an "enhanced due diligence process," though LocalBitcoins has given no indication of what that process is or when details will be made clear.
Some reports have suggested the suspensions are a result of strict new European Union anti-money laundering regulations that came into effect this month, requiring bitcoin and cryptocurrency platforms and wallet providers to identify their customers.
However, LocalBitcoins, which has a reputation as being a relatively anonymous way for bitcoin users around the world to buy and s...