One of Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Coincheck has just confirmed that it has suffered what is said to be the biggest cryptocurrency heist in history.
In a late-night press conference at 23:30 JST (06:30 PST), the Tokyo-based exchange announced that about 400 million NEM tokens were lost after the hackers sent them “illicitly” out of Coincheck’s digital wallets.
Coincheck’s president Wakata Koichi Yoshihiro and chief operating officer Yusuke Otsuka estimate their losses to be around 58 billion yen (approx. $533 million). In comparison, Mt. Gox lost $340 million when they were attacked four years ago and were forced to shut down all operations because of the hack.
This incident sent waves of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) across investors in Japan, a country that is still wary of cryptocurrency exchanges. Right after the news about the hack was released, the price of XEM, NEM protocol’s token, tanked, going from $1.02 all the way down to $0.77.
Further Investigation Still Required
“We are looking into the facts surrounding Coincheck,” Japan’s Financial Services Agency said in a statement.
Rumors about a possible theft started circulating in the crypto space a few hours earlier when Coincheck abruptly halted all withdrawals and froze most of its services. According to an official announcement on the exchange’s website, the firm had suspended the withdrawal, deposit or trading of XEM, the token running on the NEM blockchain.
Thirty minutes later, suspicions rose as the restriction extended to all cryptocurrencies as well as the Japanese yen. Within an hour, except for Bitcoin trading, all other trading activities were halted, resulting in a site-wide shutdown. Based on latest updates, other deposit methods including credit cards have also been stopped.
Coincheck’s executives also announced that they will be looking into compensating its customers for their losses. At press time, there has been no indication that Coincheck will be shutting down their premises just yet, much to the relief of its clients.
In the press conference, Coincheck’s president said that he “deeply regretted” this unfortunate incident, and also announced plans of registering the exchange with Japan’s Financial Services Agency.
FEATURED IMAGE SOURCE: PYMNTS.com