Major Bitcoin Exchange Goes Offline

JAPAN-IT-FINANCE-MTGOX-BITCOIN-INVESTIGATIONAngry bitcoin investors are demanding answers after the exchange they poured their money into vanished. Mount Gox is probably the best known exchange for swapping digital currency for U-S dollars and other currencies. But on Tuesday the Tokyo-based company’s website mysteriously went offline, leaving investors unable to access their funds. The shutdown came at the end of a month plagued with technical glitches and  a temporary suspension of all withdrawals due to ‘unusual activity’. On Sunday, the Mt. Gox CEO resigned from a key post. He hasn’t been seen in public in days.

Since its creation in 2009, bitcoin has become popular among tech enthusiasts, libertarians and adventurous investors because it allows people to make one-to-one transactions, buy goods and services and exchange money across borders without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties. Criminals like bitcoin for the same reasons.

For various technical reasons, it’s hard to know just how many people around the world own bitcoins, but the currency has attracted outsize media attention and the fascination of millions as an increasing number of large retailers such as Overstock.com begin to accept it.

Mark Williams, risk management expert and a Boston University executive-in-residence weighs in on the recent scandal and considers a lack on regulation could be the problem.