The apparent collapse of Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox isn’t bothering Anthony Hope and others who have ditched steady careers in government and finance to build bitcoin companies – and who stand to lose money they have in Mt. Gox.
Hope, a former British Treasury official and now head of compliance at Hong Kong-based MatrixVision, says that while Mt. Gox’s fate is unclear, its troubles form part of a wider shift as more professional players move into the bitcoin mainstream.
“It’s good for us as a business, not so good for us as consumers,” he said. “Over the longer term it will be good for bitcoin because over time the entire ecosystem will be made more robust.”
Steve Beauregard, CEO and founder of Singapore-based GoCoin, is more blunt about Mt. Gox’s woes: “It’s important in the sense of sweeping away a lot of the early unsophisticated folk who got into this and made a name for themselves, but didn’t have the management horsepower to manage a company.”
Mt. Gox, at one time the biggest bitcoin exchange, abruptly stopped trading this week amid reports on the internet that more than 744,000 bitcoins – worth around $380 million at prevailing rates – had been stolen. If accurate, that would mean around 6 percent of the world’s 12.4 million bitcoins minted would be missing. The exchange’s CEO Mark Karpeles told Reuters in an email that his company was “at a turning point” and would issue a statement “soon-ish.” His LinkedIn profile reads: “I have a long experience in company creation, and experienced almost any imaginable kind of trouble.”
On Wednesday, Japan said its authorities were looking into the Mt. Gox closure, and The Wall Street Journal reported that the virtual currency’s exchange had received a subpoena from federal prosecutors in New York. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan did not respond to requests for comment.