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Many bitcoin exchanges allow users to store two balances: one in bitcoin and one in a fiat currency like USD. This is convenient because it allows one to trade in and out of the bitcoin market without incurring the fees and delays of moving money in and out of the exchange.

There have been numerous cases of theft from bitcoin exchanges, but have any of them lost users' fiat funds stored in this way? Or have only bitcoin balances been depleted by thieves?

Have any of the major exchanges made any statements (please link!) about how secure a user's fiat currency stored by them is?

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Someone that gains access to an exchange's system has several options:

  1. transfer out BTC
  2. transfer out fiat
  3. manipulate/corrupt the exchange

Option 1 is fairly trivial to do nearly anonymously. Governments and lawyers are good at tracking down people that take option 2. Option 3 isn't the most straightforward way to profit.

Why would anyone take the risks with #2 instead of just doing #1?

  • Can anyone skilled in lawyering indicate whether lawyers/govts would be compelled to track down "#2 thieves", and whether the victims (users) could expect USD to be returned to them if the thieves are prosecuted? – themirror Apr 8 '13 at 22:38
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    @themirror, perhaps I misspoke when I said governments and lawyers... I don't know who would be responsible or if the exchange would contract out an investigator or whatever. I only meant to say that there are people/organizations/whatever that are pretty good at tracing/tracking financial transactions to find the end account holder. It gets way harder with BTC. – dchapes Apr 9 '13 at 3:25

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