Bitcoin tumbles most in two weeks amid South Korea hack

Bitcoin took a hit over the weekend.                  Karen Bleier  AFP  Getty Images

Bitcoin took a hit over the weekend. Karen Bleier AFP Getty Images

In January 2018 some $500-worth of cryptocurrency was stolen as a result of a hack on Japan-based exchange Coincheck, which led to a severe drop in market prices for various digital currencies and toughening of the country's policies towards cryptocurrency exchanges.

Coinrail trades more than 50 cryptocurrencies and was among the world's Top 100 most active venues, with a 24-hour volume of about $2.65 million, according to data compiled by Coinmarketcap.com before news of the hack. That widens Bitcoin's losses for the year to 53 per cent.

The cryptocurrency markets tumbled sharply following the news, with Bitcoin dropping from $7,240 to $6,752 in less than two hours, with the current price being $6,794. At the height of the global crypto-mania in early January, they were worth about $830 billion.

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Coinrail later said in a statement on its website that its system was hit by "cyber intrusion" on Sunday, causing a loss for about 30% of the coins traded on the exchange.

"This is 'If it can happen to A, it can happen to B and it can happen to C, ' then people panic because someone is selling", said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA. South Korea has been the third largest market for Bitcoin trading in the world after Japan and the U.S. and has also suffered several major exchange hacks resulting in both fear driven activity on the trading side and calls for more stringent regulation from the government.

Coinrail said the balance 70% of virtual coins are now secure in its "cold wallet", which operates on platforms not directly connected to the internet.

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The largest cryptocurrency declined to $US6,749 as of 2 p.m.in NY, the biggest drop since March 14, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from Bitstamp pricing.

The Korean National Police Agency didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

Coinrail did not specify the value of the currency that was taken in the attack at the weekend but said it was working with authorities and other coin developers to track down the culprits.

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