Defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, which declared bankruptcy after close of business last Friday, has officially opened a phone support line for customers and updated its website with details of Friday's bankruptcy filing.
The company posted the following message on its now commerce-free website:
"A call center has been established to respond to all inquiries. The call center is planned to start on March 3, 2014. All inquiries to MtGox Co., Ltd. should be made to the following telephone number:
Telephone number: +81 3-4588-3921
Working hours: Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm (Japan time)
Please refrain from contacting the office of the supervisor/investigator."
Mt. Gox has still provided no further details as to how it managed to lose over 800,000 bitcoins, causing pundits to run wild with detailed theories. The bankruptcy statement still claims the loss of 750,000 customer bitcoins and 100,000 of the company's own is "through the abuse of a bug in the bitcoin system".
Interestingly, the bankruptcy filing looks at the possibility of Mt. Gox continuing its business in some form.
"In order to increase repayments to our creditors, it is necessary to explore the possibility of having MtGox Co., Ltd. continue its business. This is why the civil rehabilitation procedure has been chosen, Rebuilding MtGox Co., Ltd under the supervision of the court in a legally organized procedure while giving proper explanations will not be for the sole benefit of the company but for that of the whole bitcoin community.
All efforts will now be made to restore the business and recover damages to repay debts to creditors. We hope for the understanding and cooperation of all."
Japanese call center
Phone support staff appear to work for a call center contractor, and have little information about the company itself, or any details off the official script.
CoinDesk contacted the support line and, after roughly 10 minutes on hold, was told they could not give out any information or register customer names, but just "take messages for the lawyers".
Staff also directed callers to updates on Mt. Gox's website, which now features details of the bankruptcy filing but little other useful information for customers or creditors.
Despite an overwhelming majority of Mt. Gox's customers being located in the United States or otherwise outside Japan, and the company's management partnership being French, last Friday's media conference was conducted almost entirely in Japanese and the support line announcement is posted in Japanese first, English second.
Support staff seem to be Japanese and answer calls in Japanese, though they do speak English.
Customer Tony* called the support line shortly after it opened, but discovered little useful information. He recorded his call, which was cut off midway through, and posted the experience on YouTube.
The initial call handler seemed nervous at the suggestion the call was being recorded, saying staff were not representatives of Mt. Gox but employees at a call center, but concluded "it's at your discretion basically".
Tony, who says he had about 30 BTC stored with Mt. Gox, asked staff what the recourse was for customers who had lost money.
The response was that Mt. Gox would have to go through proceedings with the Tokyo District Court before a deal could be arranged with creditors, including how much could be repaid.
"All things are transparent to the court [...] The company cannot hide everything (sic) [...] cannot hide the assets, everything is now transparent," the Japanese call center representative said.
Tony asked if coins would be repaid to customers in full, or as a percentage, but was again told that court proceedings would need to be completed first "to confirm who is a creditor, including those holding bitcoins."
"Because this case is very unique, and no court has experience handling similar cases of bitcoin, so I think it may take a long time to decide how much will be paid."
She said details of court proceedings would be posted on Mt. Gox's website.
Ordinarily, she said, this sort of case would take a couple of months but the unique nature of the case meant the court has not announced a timeline. That information would be disclosed once the court gave its approval.
The call dropped out part-way through her next sentence. Upon re-establishing a call, the next staff member could say only that court proceedings were underway and updates would be posted to the mtgox.com site.
*not a real name, as requested by the customer. YouTube account is also not his real name.