The popular Monero (XMR) to Bitcoin (BTC) exchange, XMR.to, is shutting down as a result of increasingly invasive money laundering laws and regulations.
XMR.to, an exchange that allows users to anonymously exchange Monero for Bitcoin, is shutting down. The writing has been on the wall for a while now, especially after draconian money laundering laws forced XMR.to to deny service to users in specific regions, such as the United States.
Technically, such laws mandated invasive policies that would undermine the purpose of using Monero in the first place. In the United States, financial services such as XMR.to are often required to comply with regulations imposed by the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and the Patriot Act, among others. Many regions have similarly intrusive laws, such as the United Kingdom or Australia.
These laws and regulations are at odds with the XMR.to mission statement. The service, for the most part, refused to identify its users. To stay legal, XMR.to had to deny service to users in certain countries. At one point, to remain legal, the service had to shut down their onion service; Tor allowed users to obfuscate their country, bypassing their various service restrictions.
The XMR.to announcement is available below and the article continues after the announcement:
Hello to all the Monero faithful. Sad news today. With heavy hearts, we are announcing that the XMR.to service will no longer be operated. It’s been a grand ride and a great privilege for us to have participated in and contributed to the growth of Monero since its early days. In a strange way, this announcement also makes us happy - happy because we can shut down safely in the knowledge that by now Monero users have plenty of great options to spend their moneroj.
So, why are we shutting down? As you will have noticed (and as many of you have complained about) over the last years and months, we have increasingly been self-imposing restrictions on the service. As discussed in previous blog posts, this is necessary as part of our responsibilities in running this type of service. Our attitude has always been that responsibility comes first and we have consistently imposed necessary restrictions even when it hurt our bottom line. However, we won’t compromise on our principles and, to give one example, are not prepared to turn our back on digital privacy-preserving technologies such as TOR and VPNs. We have now got to the point where it no longer looks feasible to run this service in a manner consistent with our core beliefs.
And with the writing on the wall, why are we making this hard decision now? We see the great adoption that Monero has had in the past years. If we had shut down in previous years, it might have been a genuine inconvenience for Monero users. We are proud to see that the ecosystem has grown and that monero users now have plenty of options to spend their moneroj directly. We are super confident that in the future these options will just keep growing along with Monero adoption in general.
In terms of supporting the community, which was always our priority from day one, please note that for the time being, we will continue to support our community contributions code and infrastructure. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to keep these alive forever, but we’ll keep them around for a few months at least, and will devote some resources to figuring out how best we can hand over these elements to minimize the impact on the community.
For six years (an eternity in the crypto space) we are proud to have set the bar of trust and honesty high for what we believe a crypto service should be - how users should be treated, how a service can be run responsibly without compromising on its principles, and how a service can and should give back to the underlying ecosystem (to both the community and the technology contributors). We sincerely hope that we have set an example and that the ever-growing Monero ecosystem will keep the torch lit that we are passing on, and hold it high for a bright Monero future.
Long live Monero!
Today, others have created services with privacy-focused goals (in addition to the monetary benefits assosciated with running such a service). One way around the regulations that ultimately resulted in the death of XMR.to is to anonymously operate such a service. What can a government do to the anonymous operator of an onion service Monero exchange? The options, short of criminally investigating the service operator, are limited.
One of the few trustworthy service operators in this sector is the creator of the Kilos search platform. The Kilos creator and administrator, ugu, has an exchange service similar to XMR.to called KSwap.
With that said, Darknetlive’s role and reason for existence is not that of an arbitrarily-guided gatekeeper to the world of onion services. This site has not tested any of the sites mentioned above and does not endorse any potential authenticity. However, since many treat this site’s list of onion services as a de facto moderator of the sector, adding new cryptocurrency exchanges–especially those designed with anonymity in mind–has the potential for significant financial loss to the uninformed user. Few services stand gain from an exit scam or even selectively scamming the way cryptocurrency exchanges do. It is unclear how to proceed from here.