Bitcoin transactions suspended, thousands of Vietnamese customers affected

VietNamNet Bridge - After hackers stole $65 million Bitcoins from Hongkong-based Bitfinex, many Bitcoin exchange platforms in the world have suspended Bitcoin transactions, creating a sharp drop in Bitcoin prices. The incident directly affected the Bitcoin transaction market in Vietnam, where thousands of customers are at risk of incurring heavy losses.

Đồng Bitcoin giảm mạnh sau khi bị hacker tấn công

Bitfinex - one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the world – announced that it had suspended trading on the platform Tuesday and that it had discovered a security breach. In all, 119,756 bitcoins were reportedly stolen, worth $72.3 million at the price when Bitfinex suspended trade.

Immediately after Bitfinex ceased trading, many Bitcoin subsystems in China, the UK, Hong Kong, and Australia have also suspended transactions to avoid similar incidents. In Vietnam, the Bitcoin market fluctuated strongly and Bitcoin prices also dropped by about 30%.

Mr. Nguyen Cong Hieu, from District 4, HCM City, said: "I’m really worried when Bitcoin prices plummeted in just the past few days. In April-May, the average rate was around VND10 million ($450)/Bitcoin but in early June it rose to VND18 million ($570)/Bitcoin so I was very excited. I thought that the rate will continue to rise so I have invested nearly VND4 billion ($190,000)on this virtual currency."

"The exchange rate has dropped to about VND12 million/Bitcoin, making a loss of more than VND1 billion ($48,000). All the Bitcoin exchanges have suspended so I may lose my entire investment. Not only me, thousands of others in the city are confused. We don’t know how to get back our money," he said.

Ms. Nga, from Tan Phu District, HCM City, complained: "When I purchased Bitcoin, Bitcoin staff confirmed that this is a global system so it is absolutely safe. However, the whole system has stopped my transactions. I wanted to withdraw money but I could not".

"I borrowed nearly VND2 billion ($190,000) to invest in Bitcoin. If this sytem cannot work or the price of Bitcoin drops sharply I'll definitely lose everything. I’ve tried to reach Bitcoin staff who consulted me before but I could not get them. I’m very confused right now," Nga said.

Mr. Nguyen Hoang Anh, an expert in the field of online business in HCM City, said: "Experts are investigating the hack to the Bitcoin system but it is extremely difficult to get back the money stolen by hackers. Some Bitcoin exchange platforms have taken advantage of the situation to declare bankruptcy. An example, in 2014, Mt.Gox exchange platform reasoned of being hacked to prevent its clients from withdraw money. A short period later it declared bankruptcy and hundreds of customers lost tens of millions of US dollars."

"In Vietnam, Bitcoin has not officially been recognized so the intervention from the government to recover money for customers is very difficult," Hoang Anh warned.

He advised Vietnamese customers to be very cautious with virtual currencies because transactions were dependent on overseas systems. Once incidents occur, clients will always suffer.

Thu Linh

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