MtGox, once the most populous bitcoin exchange, is down as of Monday night. The website is non-responsive, loading only a blank page. In fact, it appears that the site has been deleted completely.
Hours before the site disappeared a slew of bitcoin industry leaders (Blockchain, Kraken, Bitstamp, BTC China, Coinbase and Circle) all issued a joint statement regarding MtGox. “This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt.Gox was the result of one company’s abhorrent actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry,” the statement begins. It appears that this is the death of MtGox.
Thirty minutes prior to the site disappearing, Reddit user RelliMmoT posted an image showing that trading on the exchange had been disabled. That was the last thing to go. The exchange has been plagued with protests and bad press for the past few weeks after withdrawal functionality was halted; according to MtGox, that was due to the transaction malleability flaw in the bitcoin protocol. Trading on the exchange would be still active, they said, and had remained so until now.
However, with the site gone, and an ominous quiet from the bitcoin exchange, assumptions about insolvency are flying online. Some were quick to point to a possible distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which has been known to drop websites in the past. However, it appears the web server that hosts MtGox.com is still running, which rules out the DDoS theory. As redditor tetondon points out, “It's like someone highlighted the root directory for the Web server, and hit the ‘delete’ key.”
Coincidentally or not, Monday saw the complete deletion of MtGox's Twitter feed, leaving more than 28,000 follows in silence. MtGox has a history of poor communication with its customers, but the move to delete its entire Twitter feed is nearly unprecedented. This action can been seen now as the first step to completely going off the grid. Additionally, Mark Karpeles, CEO of MtGox, resigned his industry elected seat on the board of directors of the Bitcoin Exchange, an advocacy group that works as an intermediary between regulators and the bitcoin industry, on Sunday.
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The other bitcoin exchanges are setting themselves apart from what they see as a dead and necrotic exchange. “Acting as a custodian should require a high bar, including appropriate security safeguards that are independently audited and tested on a regular basis, adequate balance sheets and reserves as commercial entities, transparent and accountable customer disclosures, and clear policies to not use customer assets for proprietary trading or for margin loans in leveraged trading. It does not appear to any of us that MtGox followed any these essential requirements as a financial services provider,” the statement reads. It’s as if they are amputating a dying limb.
MtGox has been tight-lipped since the beginning of February, when the withdrawal functionality was officially halted, providing updates only after days of silence. The last update on its news blog stated in addition to a technical issue with re-initiating bitcoin withdrawals, “this week we have experienced some security problems, and as a result we had to relocate MtGox to our previous ofﬁce building in Shibuya.”
With no statement from MtGox, and no website to check, users are at a loss, and it could be a huge loss to some. If the site is gone completely, investors may not be able to retrieve any bitcoins tied up on the exchange. But that is still unclear. As of right now, customers can only wait to see if the site comes back up.