Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Technology | By Russell Knight

£52m in Bitcoin stolen after cryptocurrency exchange heist

£52m in Bitcoin stolen after cryptocurrency exchange heist

Since our last report on Bitcoin's value, where the world's largest cryptocurrency surpassed 10K in value, the coin has now added another 6K to the margin with its current value sitting at $16,130.68 as we type this. The RBI said it wanted to reinforce its previous message to "users, holders and traders of Virtual Currencies (VCs) including Bitcoins regarding the potential economic, financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks associated in dealing with such VCs". We are now investigating the nature of the incident and, as a result, we are stopping all operations for the next 24 hours. A single bitcoin, by contrast, was worth less than US$1,000 at the beginning of 2017.

"Investigation is very intensive at the moment but we can not talk about it in detail", Deputy Director of the Criminal Police Department Bostjan Lindav told reporters.

The hack will put a spotlight on the security of bitcoin just as the trading community prepares for the currency to start trading on two established US exchanges.

Thomas Peterffy, chairman of the broker-dealer Interactive Brokers Group, expressed deep concerns about the trading of bitcoin futures last month, saying "there is no fundamental basis for valuation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and they may assume any price from one day to the next".

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"It could well be that the bitcoin mania, with the price now looking completely vertical, is posing some serious competition for the traditional "anti-currency" safety valve for those who are dubious of 'fiat money, '" said David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates.

That has increased the sense among some investors that bitcoin is gaining in mainstream legitimacy after several countries, like China, tried to stifle the virtual currency.

Bitcoin's wild swings occurred as Wall Street prepares for bitcoin futures to start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday evening and on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange a week later. Banks also appear likely to limit customers' access to the futures when they first start trading.

Wall Street may have no choice but to warm up to bitcoin as more clients inquire about getting in on the action.

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And then there are concerns about security.

The digital currency's founders stipulated that a total of only 21 million bitcoins can be mined, so like gold, more cannot be issued by central banks. Such currencies are not tied to a bank or government and allow users to spend money anonymously.

A debate is raging on the merits of such currencies. Others say they can be helpful methods of payment, such as in crisis situations where national currencies have collapsed. Laws were enacted to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currencies following that incident. A bitcoin "exchange" in Japan called Mt. Gox shut down in February 2014, saying it had lost about 850,000 bitcoins, possibly to hackers.

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