|Troubled bitcoin’s Tokyo exchange website disappears
The website of Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange MtGox went down today after the value of the virtual unit sank to about a quarter of that on other platforms. Japanese regulators said they were unable to step in.
Visitors to the www.mtgox.com domain got a blank page, more than two weeks after the firm suspended cash withdrawals.
“We are not in position to take action'' over the problem, said a spokesman for the Financial Services Agency of Japan.
Consternation has grown since MtGox stopped processing external transactions on February 7, claiming there was a problem with the program that powers the currency, and allows it to be transferred between users or swapped for goods and services.
The value of the unit on the exchange has gone into freefall since then. Around midday today, a bitcoin was worth US$135, compared with the US$522 quoted by the CoinDesk bitcoin price index, which tracks the price of the currency on major exchanges.
In January a bitcoin was worth more than US$900 at MtGox, one of the world's oldest exchanges for the unit.
Bitcoin uits are generated by a complex computer algorithm designed by one or more anonymous people in 2009, with a global cap on the eventual number of bitcoins set at 21 million units.
MtGox, which has not responded to repeated AFP requests for comment, issued a statement last week saying it had moved its headquarters within Tokyo due to “security problems'' and was still working on “re-initiating bitcoin withdrawals.’’
It did not give details of the security problems.
Earlier this month, the company brought down its system and stopped processing client requests to withdraw money held at its “wallet,’’ citing a problem with the technology.
Since then, MtGox said it had “implemented a solution'' to the problems and insisted customers' assets were safe, but has not been able to announce the completion of its repair work.
However, the apparent failure of the website today will bring little comfort to investors, some of whom have tens of thousands of dollars' worth of the crypto-currency tied up in Tokyo.