Cryptocurrencies exchange Binance has denied that it was hacked after a system upgrade prevented users from trading or withdrawing funds on Thursday, in a fresh reminder of the practical issues inherent in digital currencies.
The Hong Kong-based exchange announced at roughly 2:20am GMT that “due to a significant increase in users and trading activity, Binance will need to extend the system upgrade.”
It said that it expected the work to be completed by 2pm GMT, but that “withdrawals and trading during this period will remain suspended.”
Zhao Changpeng, chief executive, said on Twitter that Binance had experienced a “server issue on our replica database cluster, causing some data to be out of sync”, requiring the exchange to “fully resync from master”. He added that “no data is lost”.
The outage on one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrencies exchanges comes after Japanese exchange Coincheck sustained a $500m hack late last month. Asked on Twitter whether Binance was hacked, Mr Zhao said “no”.
The outage sparked a mix of criticism, concern and sympathy from users on Twitter. “You cannot do a 12-13 hour upgrade unnannounced,” tweeted one user.
But another said that: “Technical difficulties/failures happen, especially to the biggest and most reputable exchange out there. It’s life, and we all willingly signed up for this.”
Binance, like other digital currency trading venues, is growing rapidly. Mr Zhao told Bloomberg Television in mid January that the exchange was adding “a couple of million” registered users each week. Over the past 24 hours, Binance has been the world’s second-most active exchange, with volumes of $3.4m, according to Coinmarketcap.com data.
Cryptocurrencies have been bouncing back over the past few days from a sharp sell-off. Bitcoin, the most actively traded coin, was up 10.3 per cent on the Bitstamp trading venue at $8,389, having traded as low as $5,920.72 earlier this week. It rose above $19,000 towards the end of 2017.
Neither Binance nor Mr Zhao could be reached by the Financial Times for additional comment.