Markets

AAX clients storm exchange’s office in Lagos following operational halt


Nigerian customer’s of the crypto exchange AAX reportedly attacked the company’s office in Lagos and harassed its employees, in a response for the recent halt of withdrawals, according to local reports from Dec. 3. 

Although it’s unclear when the assault happened, the Nigerian Blockchain Technology Association Stakeholders (SiBAN) confirmed the storm in an announcement on Nov. 28, urging angry users to be patient with the exchange’s workers, who were also impacted by the issues. SiBAN noted:

“Therefore, we appeal to and discourage any dissatisfied or angry user or investor from harassing or victimizing the AAX Country Manager (Nigeria), other local staff members, and AAX ambassadors nationwide. These persons are also facing the same situation as disgruntled users and investors are. At the time of writing this notice, we are aware that communication between these persons and AAX headquarters has been equally strained at this time. We therefore appeal for understanding and patience from all Nigerian AAX users.”

The AAX drama started on Nov. 14, when the exchange started halting withdrawals, citing a glitch in its system upgrade. AAX assured its community that the halt in withdrawals had no connection to FTX’s ongoing collapse, denying any financial ties with the embattled exchange.

Following the announcement, the AAX team announced on Nov. 15 to be working on raising additional capital, as investors withdrew their funds amid contagious concerns following FTX bankruptcy. The SiBAN commented on the situation:

“Considering that AAX’s system upgrade came at a time FTX collapse is still causing a contagion effect on the entire crypto industry, AAX’s timing of its system upgrade was suspicious and questionable in the first place. Consequently, for many AAX users and the members of the public, the prolonged AAX system upgrade till the time of writing this notice significantly raises more questions than answers. And AAX, contrary to its promise to maintain a daily update of the situation, has so far neglected or failed to maintain the trust and confidence of its users.”

The Nigerian association also noted that its members are among the affected clients.

Related: Here’s how centralized exchanges aim to win back users after the FTX collapse

On Nov. 28, Ben Caselin, vice president for global marketing and communications of AAX, resigned from his position, raising speculation that operations in the exchange might not resume. According to Caselin, despite his efforts in fighting for the community, “none of the initiatives we came up with were accepted. Any role I had left for communication became hollow.”

The former AAX executive also expressed his disagreement with the way that AAX is handling the issue. Caselin described the actions of the exchange as “without empathy” and “overly opaque.”