Crypto investors fume as world's biggest platforms are disrupted

Crypto investors fume as world's biggest platforms are disrupted
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The world's biggest crypto-trading platforms were hit by disruptions as digital currencies from Bitcoin to Ethereum slid in a collapse that wiped out billions of dollars in market value.

NEW YORK/LONDON (May 19): The world's biggest crypto-trading platforms were hit by disruptions as digital currencies from Bitcoin to Ethereum slid in a collapse that wiped out billions of dollars in market value.

Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, temporarily disabled Ethereum withdrawals, citing network congestion, while Coinbase Global Inc reported "intermittent downtime" on its platform, before saying it had identified and fixed the issue. Kraken said it is working to fix some client disruptions.

Brian Gomez, 24, from Lodi, California, was trying to take advantage of the slump in prices and buy some Dogecoin, XRP, and Shiba Inu Coins on Crypto.com on Wednesday morning but said he could not.

"Every time I log in, it'll take a minute and after it does log in, it won't load any of my information," Gomez said. "Crypto.com was the only place I can buy Shiba and XRP and I missed my chance to get in on the dip."

As of 10am in New York, Crypto.com had not reported technical glitches on its platform.

The platforms are suffering disruptions as the crypto bubble that inflated Bitcoin's value past US$1 trillion and added billions to nonsense digital tokens overnight is bursting, falling in some cases to 2020 prices.

Bitcoin plunged 30% to almost US$30,000, wiping out more than US$500 billion in value from the digital currency's peak market value, before paring some losses and rising above US$36,000.

US regulators have little oversight over crypto trading platforms. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates securities, which Bitcoin is not.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission polices futures, not the trading of underlying tokens. SEC chairman Gary Gensler urged Congress this month to fix this by giving regulators clear authority over exchanges, which he said currently lack adequate investor protection rules.

Crypto exchanges frequently suffered outages and problems during Bitcoin's historic rally, often leaving investors unable to buy or sell the digital currency for hours at a time.

Last year, Coinbase chief executive officer Brian Armstrong tweeted that the company would be adding capacity — servers and customer support — to deal with increased traffic.

Some people on Twitter noted on Wednesday that Robinhood Markets, which has previously faced disruptions during significant crypto price swings, was promoting in its app an option for phone-based customer support — something it had been criticised for not offering prior to February.

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