OKX exits Indian crypto market after app removal

Cryptocurrency exchange OKX has decided to cease operations in India, citing challenges posed by local regulations. The move comes after the Indian government’s earlier action to block several offshore crypto exchange websites, though OKX was not included in that list.

The exchange’s departure is further compounded by the removal of its application, among others, from Apple and Google’s app stores in India earlier this year.

In a notice sent to Indian users, OKX expressed regret over the decision to discontinue its services in the country. The email detailed necessary steps for users, including the closure of margin positions and the redemption and withdrawal of all funds by April 30, 12 AM UTC. After this deadline, while account restrictions will be implemented, users will still have the ability to withdraw their funds, ensuring the safety and accessibility of their assets.

An OKX spokesperson highlighted that the decision was influenced by “recent local regulations directed at offshore exchanges,” which affected centralized finance (CeFi) trading in India. However, they noted that OKX’s decentralized finance (DeFi) and web3 services would remain accessible to developers and creators within the country.

In January, the Indian government blocked nine crypto websites, including major players like Binance and KuCoin, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for operating without compliance. Following the government’s clampdown, both Apple and Google removed several crypto exchange apps from their Indian stores.

The catalyst for this ban was a notice issued by the Indian Ministry of Finance’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) back in December. The FIU’s notice targeted a range of prominent crypto exchanges such as Binance, Kraken, Kucoin, Bittrex, Gate.io, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, and MEXC Global, alleging that they are operating illegally in India and failing to comply with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The FIU had also recommended that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology block the websites of these exchanges due to their noncompliance.

Despite Apple’s App Store’s ban, these crypto exchange apps remain accessible to users in India through Google’s Play Store and their respective web versions. This partial accessibility indicates a varied approach to the enforcement of the FIU’s directives across different platforms.