BTC-e, Mt Gox, Bitcoinica.
Those who are new to bitcoin and blockchain technology may have been surprised today by an influx of strange companies and persons that have long been out of the mainstream news. Yet, for long-time industry technologists and observers, the developments are actually a major breakthrough with serious implications.
Not only does it shed light on notorious cases of massive bitcoin thefts, but it also connects one of bitcoin's longest-running legal efforts (in which creditors lost hundreds of millions in bitcoin) to its murkiest exchange long suspected of enabling criminal activity.
In short, the assertions being made by law enforcement and independent analysts (if true) could pull back the curtain on the earliest days of bitcoin's history.
For those who weren't following the blow-by-blow, we've assembled the timeline, implications and unknowns below.
To begin, here are the major players:BTC-e: Once one of bitcoin's largest exchanges, little is known about BTC-e despite the fact that it has operated one of the most consistently available ways to exchange fiat currency for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. BTC-e does not take customer information, and its location and employee structure are unknown (though it has long been suspected of operating out of eastern Europe). Mt Gox: Likely a more familiar name, the defunct Japan-based exchange was the victim of a massive hack in 2014 that saw millions in customer funds stolen. Since then, creditors are still largely fighting for compensation, and its former CEO is now on trial in Japan. At one point in 2013, Mt Gox was responsible for the majority of bitcoin exchange volume. WizSec: An independent and informal investigative outlet based in Japan, WizSec is a team of blockchain analysts and Mt Gox creditors who have long been investigating the exchange's demise. While it has provided information to law enforcement in the past,...