Fresh off its filing for bankruptcy protection, Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox is taking the first steps to set its ship aright.
The Japan-based Mt. Gox said in a March 2 notice posted on its Web site that it has set up a call center to "respond to all inquiries." The brief posting, in both Japanese and English, provides a phone number and gives the hours of operation as 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Japan time, Monday through Friday. (That works out to 5 p.m. to midnight PT, Sunday through Thursday.)
The call center is set to go into operation on Monday.
The posting calls the notice an "announcement regarding an application for commencement of a procedure of civil rehabilitation," which sounds like a regulator-mandated and very bureaucratic way of saying that Mt. Gox's call center is phase one of the Bitcoin exchange's hoped-for recovery.
Mt. Gox made its bankruptcy filing Friday, as CEO Mark Karpeles acknowledged a massive loss of bitcoins -- 100,000 of its own, and nearly 750,000 belonging to its customers -- with total value approaching $500 million.
Karpeles said that flaws in the company's computer systems allowed hackers to siphon off the large volume of the virtual currency.
Mt. Gox has $63.6 million in debt, about twice what it has in assets.
In the last year, Bitcoin has escaped the bounds of its geeky origins to become a lightning rod, controversial enough now that last week US Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) called for a ban on the digital currency, calling it "highly unstable and disruptive to our economy" and an aid to "illicit activity." But Bitcoin has fervent defenders, too, and entrepreneurs have sensed enough potential to begin fielding Bitcoin ATMs as the currency gets accepted in an increasing smattering of places.
The Bitcoin exchange Coinbase lists a current buy price per bitcoin of $563.10.
(Via Ars Technica.)