A gargantuan cryptocurrency theft has once again rattled the bitcoin market, and the odds of regulators getting involved are rising. On Friday, a hacker pilfered nearly $500 million worth of digital coins from Japanese exchange Coincheck.

Regulators there said they’d now be conducting on-site inspections at exchanges, according to Bloomberg . The price of bitcoin fell on Friday but rebounded over the weekend.

On Monday morning, the price was slumping again, trading down to about $11,200. The whole point of Bitcoin was to get rid of the middlemen that dominate the financial system.

But in the past few years, most bitcoin buying and selling has been conducted using middlemen–the exchanges that let people turn traditional currencies into digital coins. Users have flocked to exchanges in part because the original Bitcoin network can’t process enough transactions to allow for seamless trading.

The problem is that those exchanges have been susceptible to hacking. All told, more than $1 billion worth of digital coins have been stolen or lost from exchanges. Read more from barrons.com…

thumbnail courtesy of barrons.com