For a cryptocurrency exchange that has seen its bitcoin price trade at a market premium since launch, the spike to nearly $9,000 on the WEX exchange on Wednesday was an outlier.
Some background: in July of last year, U.S. and international law enforcement took aim at BTC-e, the long-running – and long-mysterious – cryptocurrency exchange. In a dramatic turn, a Russian national and one of BTC-e's suspected employees was arrested and charged with laundering billions of dollars while American regulators moved to slap the exchange with a massive $110 million fine.
Yet Wednesday's move is a curious one, with the price of bitcoin (against the U.S. dollar) on WEX climbing to $8,999, as shown in the graph below.
By contrast, CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) hasn't climbed above $6,396 since the start of trading on July 11.
At press time, the cryptocurrency is trading at roughly $8,103, according to WEX figures.
So what gives?
As might be expected, the unexpected surge stoked speculation that WEX is either insolvent, suffering banking problems or gearing up for a calculated exit. BTC-e's long-mysterious reputation and links to the now-defunct dark market Silk Road may arguably have provided fuel for such allegations.
The move also comes a day before WEX will undergo a planned maintenance period scheduled to last for 2 hours, according to a post on Twitter from July 9.
For its part, the exchange hasn't commented on its public-facing channels about the price spike, and a message sent to WEX's official account on Twitter wasn't returned by press time.
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