TOKYO – The Japanese authorities ordered on Monday the cryptocurrency exchange operator Coincheck to improve its security and to clarify the multi-million dollar hacking and disappearance of digital currency that the company suffered.
Both the Japanese government and the Financial Services Agency (FSA) have urged Coincheck to clarify Friday’s loss of 523 million in NEM tokens, a cryptocurrency, whose total value amounted to 58 billion yen ($534 million), government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday at a press conference.
He added that the government is hoping that the causes of the case will be clarified, and that the necessary measures will be taken in coordination with the Ministries as soon as possible.
The FSA has sent a formal request to Coincheck to improve its management system and its cybersecurity, and the operator has shown its willingness to take all possible measures to resolve the case and return the money to customers, the spokesperson added.
Japan’s second-largest cyrptocurrency exchange operator announced on Friday that it had been subject to a cyberattack, which has led to the largest loss of a digital currency to date.
As a result of the hack, Coincheck has suspended all transactions made with yen until further notice, and has announced that it will reimburse the losses to the approximately 260,000 customers who own the stolen NEM tokens.
The Tokyo-based operator will use its own funds to reimburse those losses, although it has not yet set a date to pay the amounts to those clients affected by this “illicit transaction,” according to its statement issued the day before.
The case has taken place at the peak of investments in cryptocurrencies in Japan and other countries, which has attracted increasing attention from the authorities who are attempting to regulate the growing volume of customers and transactions.
Japan is the world’s second-largest market for this type of currency, and in April 2017 it became the first country to recognize it as an official form of payment and to establish legal requirements so that money exchange operators could operate safely, and to prevent crimes like money laundering.
Coincheck operated without having completed the required procedure of registering as an operator of foreign exchange services with the FSA.
In 2014, the Asian country was also the scene of the Mt. Gox scandal. It was once the largest bitcoin exchange globally but went bankrupt following the disappearance of 850,000 bitcoin units, whose estimated value at that time was about 48 billion yen.