Helicarrier shuts its professional crypto trading platform Buycoins Pro

The reasons for the closure remain obscure, but there are suspicions that thin volumes on the exchange were a factor. The registration feature on the website has also been disabled.

Helicarrier shuts its professional crypto trading platform Buycoins Pro
Asset: Ohishiistk/Getty Images; Helicarrier | Design by Ifeoluwa Awowoye for Mariblock.

Crypto company Helicarrier has discontinued its cryptocurrency exchange for professional traders, Buycoins Pro. The company has also advised users to withdraw their assets within the next three months. This comes over a year after the company sold its retail trading app Buycoin Basic to crypto saving app Accrue for a stake in the latter.

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Key quote

“Regrettably, we must inform you that Buycoins Pro will be sunsetted in the coming days,” a statement on the trading service’s website reads. “As part of this process, we kindly request your attention to the following important information.”

The details 

  • According to reports, the company announced the closure to its users late last year. It added that users can trade using the Buycoins over-the-counter service. The reasons for the closure are unknown, and the company did not respond to Mariblock’s request for comments.
  • However, interactions on the exchange’s official Telegram group suggest that the company might have struggled to ramp up sufficient trading activity. 
  • In a discussion between the group’s admin and Buycoins Pro users on April 18, 2023, customers complained that the exchange does not have enough trading volume to fill their orders. 

Users often had to wait in a queue for several hours to buy or sell USDT. Others confessed that they preferred to conduct their trades elsewhere. 

  • In response, Buycoins’ representative and group admin asked the users to bring more liquidity at market prices for orders to be filled on time. 
  • At the time, the exchange only supported the USDT/NGNT trading pair on its exchange, with Bitcoin pairs added only later. 

Key quote 

  • In its statement to users, the company said: 
“We genuinely appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this period. We understand that changes like these can be inconvenient, and we’re committed to assisting you in any way we can to facilitate a smooth sunsetting process.” 

Before now 

  • Buycoins, one of Nigeria’s earliest crypto exchanges, launched Buycoins Pro as a separate product to complement its more user-friendly trading product, Buycoin Basic, a few years ago. 
  • Co-founder Ire Aderinokun said in an interview that Buycoins Pro was launched apart from the essential app to satisfy its professional customers who needed advanced trading features and a host of coins to trade with. 
“We realized that our customers were fitting into two different buckets: the professional traders who wanted an order book and access to ... different coins and people who are just getting into crypto and should only be exposed to a limited set of coins.” 
  • In 2019, the company introduced the naira-pegged NGNT stablecoin as a bridge between fiat and crypto. 
  • In 2021, Buycoins Basic, Buycoins Pro, and the company’s other franchises were brought together under the umbrella of one company, Helicarrier.

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Zoom out

Buycoins Pro is only the latest of a raft of African pure-play crypto exchanges to have either shuttered or changed their business models. At the start of the bear market, signaled by the epic failure of FTX and Terra-Luna, the industry’s focus shifted away from trading to building usable products.

  • Amid thin volumes, Africa’s local crypto exchange model also started struggling. Most traders/investors who brought the hype of the previous bull run became disillusioned and left the market. Only the largest exchanges, such as Binance, OKEx, etc., could survive.
  • Companies, including Bitmama, which recently acquired fintech startup Payday, and Yellow Card, which recently partnered with Coinbase as an on- and off-ramp partner, no longer brand themselves as crypto exchanges.