Coinbase Halts Bitcoin Cash Trading Abruptly After Launch

Pete Rizzo
Dec 20, 2017 at 02:40 UTC
Updated Dec 20, 2017 at 13:40 UTC
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Shortly after the sudden news it would add support for the cryptocurrency bitcoin cash, U.S. exchange startup Coinbase has already moved to disable trading of its newest asset.

Announced today via a blog post to users, the decision to add the cryptocurrency, the third-largest by market capitalization, comes months after developers backing the effort cloned the bitcoin blockchain, effectively creating a competing network that claimed to enable a greater volume of transactions.

Using a mechanism called a hard fork, however, the project created unique complications for exchanges, as by copying bitcoin’s ledger at the time of the split, Coinbase users who held bitcoin were effectively owners of bitcoin cash as well.

As such, a sudden influx of users armed with capital appears to have put a strain on the exchange, the most well-capitalized in the U.S. market.

At press time, buying and selling of bitcoin cash were disabled on the platform, with the last quoted price listed at nearly $9,000, more than $6,000 above the market price of $2,900, according to data provider CoinMarketCap.

According to the exchange’s official status blog, trading was disabled after about four minutes after it began. Trading went live at 17:20 PST and was pulled back to post-only mode at 17:24, records show.

“All BCH books will enter cancel-only mode, and all existing orders will be cleared. While in cancel-only mode, no new orders will be accepted. We will post an update shortly,” the exchange wrote at 18:30 PST, and later tweeted.

The service outage does not appear to have affected either the exchange’s other assets or its Coinbase brokerage service, which allows users to buy and sell bitcoin, ether and litecoin.

Representatives for Coinbase did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Coinbase.

Trading image via Shutterstock