Cryptocurrencies drop after Japanese exchange halts withdrawals

cryto-japanTOKYO: Cryptocurrencies slumped after one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in Japan halted client withdrawals.

Coincheck, based in Tokyo, said in a series of tweets that it had suspended all withdrawals, halted trading in all tokens except Bitcoin, and stopped deposits into NEM coins. The exchange didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

NEM, the 10th-largest cryptocurrency by market value, fell 18% at 5.47pm local time, according to Bitcoin dropped 5.5% and Ripple retreated 11%, according to composite pricing on Bloomberg.

Cryptocurrency exchanges, many of which operate with little to no regulation, have suffered a spate of outages and hacks amid the trading boom that propelled Bitcoin and its peers to record highs last year.

In Japan, where the Mt Gox exchange collapsed after a theft in 2014, policy makers have introduced a licensing system to increase oversight of local cryptocurrency venues. Coincheck has yet to receive a license, according to the website of Japan’s financial regulator.

Coincheck, founded in 2012, had 71 employees as of July with headquarters in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, an area popular with startups that was also home to Mt Gox, according to Coincheck’s website. Last year, it began running commercials on national television featuring popular local comedian Tetsuro Degawa.