TOKYO – The Japanese minister of finance said Tuesday that control over digital currency operators must be strengthened after approximately $530 million disappeared from a Tokyo-based crypto exchange platform on Jan 26.
“We will appropriately weigh the balance between promotion of innovation and protection of users,” Finance Minister Taro Aso said at a press conference held after a Cabinet meeting, the Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported.
Aso referred to the incident on Jan 26 in which a Japanese crypto exchange operator, Coincheck, was hacked, resulting in about 523 million units of the digital currency NEM, worth $530 million, being stolen from the platform, marking it the largest computer attack so far in the virtual currency sector.
The Finance Minister said that they will tell the operators to urgently review their security systems and asked the Financial Services Agency of Japan (FSA) to “appropriately monitor cryptocurrency traders to protect users.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said that the cybersecurity environment is changing, and called the Coincheck case a wake-up call for companies to consider the importance of improving their security systems, according to the public broadcaster NHK.
Aso and Seko’s comments came a day after the FSA ordered Coincheck to correct the security flaws in its system, and announced that it will conduct an investigation into this and other virtual currency platforms to avoid similar incidents.
Coincheck, one of Japan-based virtual currency operators with the highest turnover rate, said after the attack that it will reimburse customers affected by the theft with its own assets, but has yet to set a date for this.
Japan suffered a virtual currency theft in 2014, when about 850,000 bitcoin units, amounting to over $440 million, disappeared from the then largest cryptocurrency platform Mt. Gox, leading to its subsequent bankruptcy.