Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Cryptocurrencies take hit after S Korea exchange hack

AFP, HONG KONG

Cryptocurrencies plunged in Asia yesterday after a hack on South Korean exchange Coinrail sparked fresh concerns about the safety of the digital currencies.

The attack on Coinrail comes months after Japanese firm Coincheck said it had lost more than US$500 million in a hack in January.

Coinrail did not specify the value of the currency that was taken in the attack over the weekend, but said it was working with authorities and other coin developers to track down the culprits.

The firm, which trades more than 50 cryptocurrencies, added that it has frozen all exposed coins — Fundus X, Aston and Enper — and other units have been taken offline in a “cold wallet.”

The news sent cryptocurrencies tumbling, with bitcoin losing about 13 percent, ethereum down 12 percent and ripple almost 20 percent lower as traders fretted over the safety of their investments.

“This is ‘If it can happen to A, it can happen to B and it can happen to C,’ then people panic because someone is selling,” OANDA head of Asia-Pacific trade Stephen Innes said.

“The markets are so thinly traded, primarily by retail accounts, that these guys can get really scared out of positions,” Innes said. “It actually doesn’t take a lot of money to move the market significantly.”

Cryptocurrencies have plunged since the end last year, when bitcoin hit a record high near US$20,000, having surged from less than US$1,000 just 11 months earlier. The unit is now worth about US$6,780.

South Korea is one of the biggest markets for trading in digital currencies, but the boom in their popularity has forced the government to tighten regulations, following similar moves in other countries.

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