The world’s largest bitcoin trading exchange shut down on Tuesday, sparking a massive sell-off that calls into question the long-term viability of the nascent virtual currency trade.
“This is extremely destructive,” risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank Examiner Mark Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “What we’re seeing is a lot of the flaws. It’s not only fragile, it’s fragile as eggshells.”
The halt in trading occurred when reports hit the Internet that the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange suffered the theft of 744,000 bitcoins worth an estimated $380 million.
Internet currency forums are now asking the question whether “bitcoin” has morphed into “shitcoin.”
Others expressed optimism that the crisis will spawn better measures.
“I think it’s a significant event, but I think there’s a decent chance that it is part of what we would call this sort of shaking out of the industry as it matures and slowly becomes a little more regulated,” New York state’s top financial regulator Benjamin M. Lawsky told the New York Times.