Coinrail, which is among the world's top 100 crypto exchanges by trading volume, said in a statement that some of the lesser-known cryptocurrencies, such as NPXS, belonging to its users were stolen by hackers. The crash widens bitcoin's year-to-date losses to as much as 50%, wiping about $120 billion off its market value this year.
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South Korea has emerged as a hotbed for trading in virtual currencies over the past year. The Coinrail virtual currency exchange was breached over the weekend.
While the price of Bitcoin may have taken a nosedive, there's still likely to be a heavy appetite for it as some traders speculate on when the price might suddenly surge in order to make a quick buck. NY time on Friday and was trading at US$6,782.42 as of 10:30 a.m.in London on Monday, bringing its decline since December 29 to 53 per cent. Bitcoin was one of those affected, falling 10 percent to its lowest price in two months.
"Investors have been increasingly anxious about cybersecurity issues", said Adrian Lai, founding partner at Hong Kong-based investment firm Orichal Partners.
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Cryptocurrencies have plunged since the end of 2017, when bitcoin hit a record high near US$20,000, having surged from less than US$1,000 just 11 months earlier.
Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned partly due to a string of cyber heists, including the almost $500 million theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc.in late January. That prompted a Japanese authorities to step up scrutiny of exchanges.
Investor Alistair Milne ran a Twitter poll on Sunday soliciting input on what people thought sparked the dip - in perhaps a sign of the times, half of the roughly 3,700 respondents blamed "aliens" with 9 percent and 12 percent blaming the Coinrail hack and the CFTC subpoenas, respectively.
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South Korea is one of the biggest markets for trading in digital currencies but the boom in their popularity has forced the government to tighten regulations, following similar moves in other countries.