News / Economy

Investors Worried After Largest Bitcoin Exchange Goes Dark

FILE - Mike Caldwell, a 35-year-old software engineer, holds a 25 Bitcoin token at his shop in Sandy, Utah.
FILE - Mike Caldwell, a 35-year-old software engineer, holds a 25 Bitcoin token at his shop in Sandy, Utah.
David Byrd
Japanese officials are studying ways to regulate the virtual currency Bitcoin after a prominent Tokyo-based trading house shut down suddenly on Tuesday. The unexpected closure of the Mt. Gox exchange is the latest setback in the currency’s attempts to gain worldwide acceptance.
 
In a packed news conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said authorities - including the Japanese Financial Services Agency, Finance Ministry and the police - are looking into Bitcoin trading in Japan.
 
“Regarding the concerned issue, I am aware that the related ministries, such as the Financial Services Agency, the Economic Ministry and the Finance Ministry, are gathering information. If necessary, I believe they will act on this once they have the grasp of the situation. But at this point, they are still gathering more facts and information,” said Suga.
 
The sudden disappearance of Mt. Gox - once one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges - has dealt a blow to the credibility of the virtual currency.  Earlier this month, Mt. Gox imposed a ban on withdrawals. On Sunday, CEO Mark Karpeles resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, which seeks wider acceptance of the currency.  Tuesday, the Mt. Gox website was blank, with only a brief statement to investors.
 
Reports emerged that the company had lost more than 750,000 Bitcoins due to what was called transaction malleability. Hackers were able to discover that they could track Mt. Gox’s software by creating a Bitcoin transaction and then changing its identifying codes. Funds were taken from Mt. Gox, but because its computers were looking for the old identifying code, the losses went unnoticed.
 
Several other Bitcoin exchanges issued statements Tuesday that said they are working to reestablish the currency’s credibility. 
 
Nonetheless, Bitcoin’s future remains questionable.  Emily Spaven, the Managing Editor of Coin Desk, told the Associated Press that Mt. Gox’s failure will probably lead to more government oversight of the virtual currency.
 
“I think what we’ll see from this is that governments will try and enforce some kind of regulation because, as we’ve discovered, there’s around $350 million worth of bitcoins that have been stolen.  So that’s a lot of money to go missing, so I’m pretty sure that governments will try and step in to protect their citizens from suffering something like this again,” said Spaven.
 
Moshe Cohen, an Assistant Professor of Finance and Economics at the Columbia Business School, told AP that this incident could have one of two results for Bitcoin.
 
“One of two things will happen: either the Bitcoin community will convince us that it is a one off, and a new form of maybe partially regulated exchange can solve these problems and take the good and get rid of the bad, or people will start losing faith,” said Cohen.
 
Several large firms- including Overstock.com, Zynga, the online retailer TigerDirect and the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento King’s team - have announced they will accept Bitcoins. Billionaire Richard Branson has announced his Virgin Galactic will accept Bitcoin for space flights.
 
As of this writing, Bitcoin’s value was nearly back to where it was when the Mt. Gox crisis began. It may be that Mt. Gox’s will help Bitcoin in the long run by eliminating an unsound player from the virtual currency game.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.