Over the weekend the price of bitcoin hit a two-month low of around $6,600 on the Bitfinex exchange. The price moved a bit higher to trade at around $6,730 in the noon hour Monday. Some think that a hack on a South Korean exchange was responsible, while others are saying a correction was due anyway.
A South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, Coinrail, said on Sunday that it had been the target of an attack. Other reports suggested a total of some $30 to $40 million in a variety of tokens had been lost. Bitcoin was not among the digital assets reported stolen.
Other cryptocurrency watchers believe that bitcoin was due for a price correction in any event. The best-known digital currency dropped around 10% on Sunday and traded down about 5.4% in the early afternoon Monday. Bitcoin has been trading in a narrow range of $7,000 to $7,800 for the last two weeks after touching a three-month peak of around $8,900 in early May.
South Korea has taken a hard regulatory line on cryptoassets and exchanges. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are banned in the country and the government came close to banning exchanges altogether. That would have been a heavy blow–South Korea is the third-largest cryptocurrency market in the world, according to cryptovest.com.
This latest loss is sure to increase South Korea’s wariness of digital assets and how they are traded. Eric van Miltenburg, an executive at digital currency firm Ripple, told cryptovest.com the government should not impose tighter restrictions on the country’s market:
We just think it needs to be a regulation that balances the need to protect consumers without stalling or prohibiting innovation. We’ve seen that in other countries and in other technologies where you found a balance. Frankly if you think back to the early age of the internet, there were some people that only looked at the negative aspects of the internet saying we should shut it down for a while until we figure out what’s going on, and what’s good and what’s bad.
Bitcoin for June delivery traded down nearly 12% on the Cboe early Monday afternoon at $6,740. The range today is $6,630 to $6,825.