November 29 was an exciting day if you were watching bitcoin prices swing back and forth with quite a bit of turbulence. The price of bitcoin touched an all-time high of $11,395 across global exchanges. Then, about an hour or so later, the price went down hard to a low of $9250 on some trading platforms. Although some exchanges had significant operational issues according to upset customers, the Down Detector, and the trading platform’s own website status pages.
Multiple Cryptocurrency Exchanges Suffer From Website Outages and Service Issues
Cryptocurrency exchanges had some difficulties on November 29 as the price had wild and tumultuous price swings all day long. After the big spike and the start of the dip, customers started venting on forums and social media complaining about trading platforms and outages. The forum /r/bitcoin started a megathread dedicated to exchange outages. “Please discuss exchange outages here instead of everyone submitting screenshots of a broken website,” pleaded the subreddit moderator.
Many Bitfinex customers complain that their positions were liquidated on November 29. The Bittrex exchange says they had issues on Wednesday as well.
According to multiple reports, exchanges such as Coinbase, GDAX, Gemini, Bitstamp, Kraken, Bitfinex, and others had issues with their websites during the day. Traders complained of downtime during the dip, margin trading liquidations, and flash crashes. For instance, the trading platform Gemini has a whole page report on multiple issues of “degraded performance” during the day.
“We have received a few messages where customers see a ‘504 Gateway Time-out’ message,” explains the exchange status page.
We are implementing a mitigation fix due to an enormous influx of web traffic. We are monitoring and will let you all know once we are back up and running. Thank you for your ongoing patience.
These issues were posted to the Coinbase, GDAX, and Gemini status pages.
Coinbase and GDAX Experience Downtime
Another popular cryptocurrency platform that had issues during the day was Coinbase, and its sister company GDAX also had multiple problems with website operations.
“A portion of customers may be unable to access Coinbase – We are working to restore access to all users,” explained the company. Further, the company’s trading engine GDAX also suffered technical difficulties.
“We are currently investigating performance issues and downtime on the web app and REST API,” said the GDAX on November 29.
Kraken and Bitstamp Outages
Outages also took place on Kraken, as the website Down Detector reveals: the exchange had issues from 8 am to 9 pm EDT. There are multiple comments on the portal of Kraken customers upset with the downtime. Additionally, at the same time Down Detector had recorded some outages that happened over at Bitstamp. The European exchange had over 140 reports of outages between 11 am to 8 pm according to the Down Detector. Bitstamp outages were reported in the U.S., the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, and many other areas across Europe. The trading platforms Poloniex and Bittrex also had customers who complained about website performance on Wednesday.
The Down Detector website recorded lots of outages on November 29 at Kraken and Bitstamp as well.
Exchange Downtime and Margin Losses Show the Industry Has Significant Challenges
Throughout the day while exchanges had severe technical difficulties and outages, bitcoin’s price rapidly went from $11,395 and dropped 17 percent following the spike. After that bitcoin crossed the $10-10.5K range multiple times, and again fell to the $9600 territory. Even worse margin traders who utilize the exchange Bitfinex lost a lot of money according to many reports. When visiting the Reddit forum /r/bitfinex many traders are very upset with the trading platform’s performance on November 29. According to the company’s support page, the trading engines margin call limits should stop serious losses. The support page states;
When a position is force liquidated, the system places a limit order at the zero-equity price (rather than simply executing a market order). We do this to prevent a liquidated position creating a negative account balance for the user due to slippage during highly volatile market periods.
However, a lot of Bitfinex traders say the company’s margin call safety valve did not save their accounts and there are countless posts of people claiming they were forced liquidated.
One company who helps provide exchange infrastructure support to cryptocurrency trading platforms wants to prevent these types of market oddities. The firm Alphapoint and its co-founder, Igor Telyatnikov, believes digital asset infrastructure outages are a problem if the technology gains a more considerable influx of mass adoption.
“Today’s incident highlights the challenges in this space as it continues to mature and attract institutional money,” Telyatnikov explained. “We need a more robust infrastructure for institutional-grade needs.”