Bitcoin price hits two-month low following major cryptocurrency theft

Bitcoin's tumultuous year continued over the weekend as South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail said there was a "cyber intrusion" in its system, and an unknown quantity of digital currency appeared to have been stolen.

Coinrail said it had temporarily suspended trading in digital currencies and was fully cooperating with investigators to try to track down the missing funds. However, South Korean news outlet Yonhap News - via The Guardian - reported that some 40 billion won worth of digital coins were grabbed by the hackers; that's some £27.8m in real-world money.

WSJ thinks bitcoin price fell 11% because a small cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea which a very small portion of local users utilize was hacked.

As always the cryptomarket is a volatile space where trading trends are created by emotion as much as any actual outside force but in the case of this weekends carnage, there are at least two contributing factors to blame.

South Korea has seen a craze over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, prompting authorities to try to rein in speculative investment this year by tightening regulations. Most other major virtual currencies also retreated, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by to a almost two-month low of $298 billion.

Cryptocurrencies are still popular, especially with young investors. Cryptocurrency venues have come under growing scrutiny around the world in recent months amid a range of issues including thefts, market manipulation and money laundering.

Coinrail said the balance 70% of virtual coins are now secure in its "cold wallet", which operates on platforms not directly connected to the internet. "For the rest, we are looking into it with an investigative agency, related exchanges and coin developers", Coinrail said.

"We began the investigation immediately after receiving reports from the company".

Vanessa Coleman