TOKYO (AP) — One of the world's largest bitcoin exchanges appears to have collapsed.
A coalition of virtual currency companies says Tokyo-based Mt. Gox went under after secretly racking up catastrophic losses.
Mt. Gox's website wasn't functioning today. That follows the resignation Sunday of its CEO from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, a group seeking legitimacy for the new form of money. The exchange had imposed a ban on withdrawals earlier this month.
Prominent supporters of bitcoin are seeking to shore up confidence in the currency by labeling Mt. Gox's collapse an isolated case of mismanagement.
Bitcoin has become popular among tech enthusiasts, libertarians and investors because it allows people to make transactions and exchange money across borders without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties. Criminals like bitcoin for the same reasons.
A number of large retailers such as Overstock.com have begun to accept it.
While it's hard to know just how many people around the world own bitcoins, speculative investors have sent the currency's value fluctuating wildly in recent months.
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