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Just what the heck is a bitcoin anyway?
Q&A » How exchanges work and why the Mt. Gox demise shook the virtual-cash world.

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That may indeed be hyperbole. Bitcoin’s value fell sharply once the document started circulating but has stabilized around $500 per bitcoin, suggesting that many already assumed Mt. Gox was insolvent. And at $500, the cybercurrency’s value is still 17 times what it was at this time last year, meaning some still see a bright future for Bitcoin.

Q » What about Mt. Gox’s customers?

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A » If the draft strategy document is correct, Mt. Gox has lost some $370 million worth of bitcoins and has liabilities of $55 million against only $33 million in assets — more than $5 million of which has already been frozen by the U.S. government. That’s a catastrophic balance sheet as far as Mt. Gox’s customers are concerned.

One of them, Kolin Burges, has been picketing the exchange’s office building since Feb. 14 in the hope of getting back $320,000 worth of bitcoins he invested there.

"I may have lost all of my money," said Burges. "It hasn’t shaken my trust in Bitcoin, but it has shaken my trust in bitcoin exchanges."

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