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‘Very Cold Crypto Winter’ Kills a Pioneer of Bitcoin Trading

One of the earliest peer-to-peer platforms for trading Bitcoin is shutting down, a casualty of the prolonged crypto downturn.

LocalBitcoins cited the “ongoing and very cold crypto winter” for its decision in a tweet on Thursday. Its mission to “Bring Bitcoin Everywhere” and promote financial inclusion fell prey to falling volumes and market share, the company said.

Launched in 2012 in Helsinki, LocalBitcoins was one of the earliest and most popular P2P platforms for trading the biggest token, but it gradually lost ground to other crypto exchanges. Weekly volumes peaked at almost $130 million during the 2017 bull market and have since tumbled to around $5 million to $6 million, data from CoinDance show.

LocalBitcoins matched buyers and sellers and held the tokens in escrow until both parties confirmed a transaction. The platform allowed in-person cash trading in Bitcoin in multiple currencies, making it popular in countries with unstable fiat currencies — as well as among actors who wished to hide their tracks. It tightened its user verification policy in 2019 after Finland introduced new crypto regulations.

LocalBitcoins was named as one of the top three counterparties to crypto exchange Bitzlato, whose founder was arrested in the US in January and was charged with laundering proceeds from illegal gambling and drug deals valued at more than $700 million.

Trading on LocalBitcoin will be halted from Feb. 16, after which its wallets can only be used for withdrawals, according to a post on its website. Customers with have 12 months from Feb. 17 to withdraw their Bitcoins from their exchange wallets.

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