Under-fire crypto exchange goes offline just as Bitcoin price nosedives

HitBTC, the much-criticised crypto exchange, experienced technical difficulties yesterday, forcing it to take its systems offline and lock customer accounts at exactly the point BTC lost around $300 in value. 

Under-fire exchange HitBTC, which has been the subject John McAfee’s ire in the last month, as a well as that of a slew of unhappy customers, yesterday took its service offline due to and unspecified hardware fault.

Unfortunately for its customers, it would appear that the exchange’s estimate of downtime was optimistic. Indeed, it was almost four hours later – during which there was no status update – before it took to Twitter to confirm that it was operational again.

As is the nature of social media, the vacuum created by HitBTC’s lack of transparency regarding the nature of the problem, and ongoing scepticism about the operations of the site in general, led quickly to rumours regarding a hack or exit scam. While the latter does not seem to be the case, no statement or larger explanation has been forthcoming to allay fears of the former – and the lack of news in that vital four hour period is being attributed by some as a driver of the heavy sell-off in Bitcoin that caused a $300 drop in price at points during that time – in the same way that Bithumb and Coinrail scared traders recently. The BTC price action does certainly seem to correlate time-wise with the announcement.

Whether or not it was the cause, it was an unfortunate souring of market conditions for any HitBTC customers who may have wanted to offload their bitcoin during this time, no-doubt resulting in significant losses for some. The fallout for HitBTC, which is still to expand on exactly what transpired, will be an increasingly bright spotlight on its already under-fire operation.