Bitcoin price drops as Mt. Gox exchange closes indefinitely
February 10, 2014 - 9:19AM
Bitcoin has plunged more than 8 per cent after a Tokyo-based exchange halted withdrawals of the digital currency, citing technical malfunction.
Mt. Gox, a popular exchange for dollar-based trades, said in a blog post it needed to "temporarily pause on all withdrawal requests to obtain a clear technical view of the currency processes." It promised an "update" - not a reopening - on Monday, February 10, Japan time.
Yesterday, the Russian prosecutor general said in a statement on its website that after a meeting with the central bank, the Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry, it had concluded Bitcoin and other digital currencies are illegal under current law.
"Russia's official currency is the ruble," according to the statement. "The introduction of other currencies and the issue of money surrogates are banned."
Calls to the Russian prosecutor's press office in Moscow after hours went unanswered.
The report gained wider circulation on Twitter Inc.'s service today after RT.com, a Russian state broadcaster, published an English-language article on the action.
The price of Bitcoin was down more than 6.5 per cent to $732.40 at 3:09 p.m. New York time, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index, which averages prices from exchanges including Mt. Gox.
SecondMarket Inc., which runs a Bitcoin investment fund for accredited investors, announced it would buy Bitcoins, partly in response to the Mt. Gox closing. Barry Silbert, the New York-based company's chief executive officer, said in a message on Twitter that its trading team would "make a market on a pilot basis," for orders of at least 25 Bitcoins.
Silbert, whose company brokered trades of shares in closely held companies such as Facebook Inc. before they were publicly traded, said the trouble at Mt. Gox demonstrates "a clear need for a US-based, regulated, compliant and trustworthy Bitcoin exchange."
“This could be the first step in that direction,” Silbert said in an e-mail.
US-based exchanges have either closed at the behest of law enforcement or had difficulties obtaining business bank accounts because of regulatory uncertainty. State regulators are currently considering how to license digital currency exchanges as money transmitters.
Bitcoin prices have generally traded at higher dollar prices on Mt. Gox because customers have had difficulties getting the U.S. currency out of the exchange. US authorities twice seized, most recently in August, Mt Gox bank accounts in the US worth a total of $5 million after the company failed to register as a money transmitter.