While the digital currency Bitcoin continues to rise in value relative to the US Dollar, one of the mainstays of the Bitcoin universe, Mt Gox, appears to have exited the industry after a series of digital heists in the form of hacks into the exchange's hot wallet (the exchange's interface with the broader Bitcoin market) left what was once the world's most important Bitcoin exchange insolvent.
When Mt Gox imploded on February 25th, it took with it one of the largest bridges between the Bitcoin universe and the national currencies of the world. It also took with it one of the largest pools of liquidity in the digital currency realm. As a result, the digital currency traded below $300 for the first time since November 2013.
While the events which unfolded on that fateful February day last week have caused many a Bitcoin naysayer to blurt out, "I told you so," evidence of the actual demise of Bitcoin and other digital currencies has been lacking. After all, it wasn't as if the Bitcoin blockchain itself that imploded. On the contrary, the demise of Mt Gox may have been the best thing to happen to the Bitcoin industry.
Mt Gox grew from its humble beginnings as an online exchange for Magic: The Gathering cards to dominate the Bitcoin trade, which it entered into in 2011. On June 11th, not long after it entered the Bitcoin game, it suffered the first of what would be several security breaches. After all, in the Bitcoin Universe, all Mt Gox had was just another wallet. The fact that it was seen as one of the largest wallets made it a natural target.
In April of 2013, when Mt Gox was in its heyday, processing roughly 70% of all Bitcoin trades, it suffered another well publicized hack.
Through all of its setbacks, Mt Gox was able to soldier on and execute trades, despite being short, as revealed over the past week, roughly 750,000 Bitcoins. It is our suspicion that Mt Gox was able to cover shortfalls in the past by mining Bitcoins to cover those that had been stolen. Over the course of the past year, with Bitcoin touching roughly $1,200 USD at certain points in time, mining again became lucrative as the rate of Bitcoin generation began to plateau, leaving any player who was short Bitcoin in an extremely difficult situation.
While those of us who, until recently, looked to Mt Gox for the Bitcoin market price as a silver trader looks to the Comex, it will take some minor adjustments, but life in Bitcoin land will move on and, from the looks of things, be more stable and vibrant.
For those who stored a great deal of Bitcoin denominated wealth directly on Bitcoin's wallet, the outcome, it would appear, is much more tragic.
Does Mt Gox's demise signal the demise of Bitcoin? On the contrary, it may have ushered in Bitcoin's golden age as the standard by which all subsequent digital currency offerings are measured.