Earlier today we reported that cryptocurrencies tumbled overnight after one of the most popular, if unregistered, Japanese exchanges, Coincheck, halted withdrawals amid general confusion as to what prompted the halt.
Furthermore, Coincheck said it had stopped deposits into NEM coins, a hint that something fishy was taking place withthe 10th-largest cryptocurrency by market value, which quickly fell nearly 20% overnight.
Speculation was rife: "Coincheck is a very well-known exchange in Japan," said Hiroyuki Komiya, Chief Executive Officer of Tokyo-based Blockchain Technology Consulting. "We’ve seen several outages at various crypto exchanges recently, so the extent and seriousness of Coincheck’s halt isn’t yet clear. We’re all very eagerly awaiting to hear more detail on what’s happening."
Shortly after the closure, theories started to emerge as to what may have happened, when some noticed that a massive ($110 million) transfer from Coincheck's Ripple wallet sparked speculation that the exchange may have been hacked:
And then, the worst case scenario was confirmed moments ago when Coincheck itself told financial authorities that it had lost 500 million NEM cryptocurrency coins in today's cyberheist, which at the current exchange rate amounts to roughly $400 million!
While little additional information was available, Coincheck says that the hacked NEM was sent illicitly outside exchange, at which point the trail was lost. No other issues found with other currencies on exchange.
The Japnese exchange also said that it was working hard to secure client assets, and that it doesn't know how many total coins were lostl adding that it was not clear if NEM losses were internal or external.
And while memories of the historic Mt.Gox hack suddenly back front and center, Coincheck said that it plans to start trading of unaffected currencies. In retrospect that may not be a good idea...
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