Japanese authorities have cast a severe look at cryptocurrency exchanges after last week’s theft of $530 million from Coincheck. Japan’s financial regulator has announced it will take steps to inspect business practices of trading platforms to make sure they comply with proper security measures.
The hackers managed to get away with 523 million units of cryptocurrency NEM, the 10th largest by market value, kept in digital wallets of some 260,000 Coincheck users, according to company’s statement. The loss is the biggest since the shutdown of another exchange, Mt.Gox, after an alleged cyberattack that caused the disappearance of 850,000 bitcoins several years ago.
Japan’s Financial Services Agency has given Coincheck 15 days to submit a report on the robbery and measures to be introduced in the future to avoid similar thefts. In the aftermath of the attack the exchange admitted it hadn’t used ‘cold storag’, keeping cryptocurrency offline, nor had it required a two-layer password to authorise transactions, as recommended by authorities, according to Spanish news agency EFE.
Despite some uncertainty produced by this massive villainy, the market value of major cryptocurrencies, including that of NEM, has been barely affected. Coincheck’s promise to reimburse the victims has calmed investors, even though the country’s regulator has not confirmed whether the company has sufficient funds to do that. The government, which has questioned Coincheck executives, has not ruled out physically registering the company’s offices should there be any doubt about the reliability of the security system.
Japan, a country that recognises bitcoin and other digital money, has vowed to regulate the sector. The authorities have promised licenses in exchange for more transparency, financial robustness and additional security measures.
Japan’s approach to digital currency is divorced from that of South Korea or China, whose investors are among the world’s most devout, and where authorities have restricted or completely prohibited operations due to high volatility and risks.
Japan’s police have launched an investigation into determining who is responsible for the theft. Since the happening, NEM, the company based in Singapore, has assured it’s been tracking the stolen coins, which the hackers have neither exchanged, nor deposited to a private account. The company is developing an automated identification system that will make it difficult to sell the coins without being detected.