UK-based bitcoin exchange Bit121 has announced that it will suspend trading and temporarily close today, March 31st. Although the exchange has indicated that the closure is not permanent, it has not said when it will reopen.
said most of the site's functionality was removed on March 26th. However, users have been able to view account balances and statements, withdraw any sterling balance greater than £50 with no fee, and withdraw any bitcoins held with the exchange. All orders have been cancelled.
On Thursday (27th March), the exchange started carrying out withdrawal transactions on every account with a positive GBP balance.
Bit121 had urged all users to withdraw their bitcoins prior to today's closure. The exchange maintained that it has been making every effort to contact all account holders individually to offer any help and support required.
Said the exchange:
Bit121 added that it is closing down in an orderly fashion and that it has already refunded sterling balances. Returning all customers' bitcoins, however, will take a little longer, as some customers do not hold personal wallets.
When it launched, Bit121 teamed up with payment service provider PacNet Services Ltd, which in turn worked with Barclays PLC. However, since then, the relationship with PacNet Services has broken down.
The exchange told CoinDesk that it decided to close because it was simply taking too long to secure an alternative banking partner.
Bit121 told CoinDesk:
"Rather than have the website sitting dormant with minimal activity, it made sense to temporarily close Bit121 until a suitable banking partner has been secured. The likelihood is that there will need to be some redesign of back-end processes anyway once we re-launch, so the closure will provide us with some time and space to make some necessary changes to our processes and potentially some improvements to both the back-end processes and the bit121 website.
"Our top priority is our customers and the service that we provide to them. We will only re-launch, when we are certain that we can provide a high-quality and competitive service to our customers."
Never a large exchange, Bit121 launched last November and a month later chief executive Jim Iddiols said daily trading volume was about £100,000, with more than 500 registered users.
The exchange suffered a few teething problems shortly after it was launched, forcing it to suspend trading in on 28th November. Shortly thereafter, Bit121 resumed services after it found that there was, in fact, no glitch at all.
The exchange stored most of its holdings in cold storage and it maintained only a very small number of bitcoins in its hot wallet. No security issues were reported and, for better or worse, Bit121 didn't make that many headlines – usually a good thing when it comes to bitcoin exchanges.
For Brits despairing at the lack of exchange options, there is good news, however, as the departure of Bit121 coincides with the launch of Coinfloor, a new outfit that seems intent on becoming Britain's premier bitcoin exchange.
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