But the bitcoin-transactions are not safe by any means.
It was not a solitary case that a flourishing Canadian crypto-currency exchange, “Quadriga”, which had been founded by Gerald Cotten should have gone underground.
Prior to it, in 2014, the Tokyo based “Mt. Gox”, which happened to be one of the world’s biggest online crypto-currency exchanges – too, had unexpectedly shut down its shutters after losing 850,000 Bitcoins (valued at the time at nearly $0.4bn).
After its shut down, “Quadriga” came as a blessing for the Canadian investors, since it operated from within their own country.
But it watered down their all dreams when it came to be known that its founder, Gerald Cotton, met with his end on December 9, 2018, in Jaipur where he had gone to open an orphanage, from complications related to Crohn’s disease.
Not so, because of his sudden death but because he took with him the whereabouts of the investment to the tune of about C$ (Canadian dollars) 180m in crypto-currency to his grave leaving behind him thousands of Quadriga – CX customers, in the lurch – whether they will ever see their funds again.
Surprisingly, none of them ever bothered to know that this Exchange did not have any offices, nor had any employees and even any bank-accounts worth the salt, though it used some third-party contractors to handle some of the additional work, including payment processing.
It was just a one-man band run entirely by Cotten himself from his own home in Fall River, Nova Scotia just on his laptop and only he knew the “passwords” to operate their accounts.
In an affidavit, his widow, Jennifer Robertson has mentioned that she has searched their home through in and out and even other properties for business records related to Quadriga but to no avail declaring that the laptop, on which he conducted all the business, is encrypted and she doesn’t have the password or the recovery-key to access any data posted on it.
So the death of Cotten has turned into a nightmare for all the investors more so because even the investigator, who had been hired to assist in recovering any records, has also raised his hands. He has not met with any success to recover any passwords because everything that is recorded on the laptop has been written in an encrypted form though IBC has frozen five accounts containing about Canadian $26m linked to Quadriga’s payment processor in a dispute over the real owners of the funds, an issue that ended up in court.
Alex Salkeld, a close friend of Cotten, has also admitted that he should have had a contingency plan in place.
There are many of them who are suspicious of Quadriga’s story and who doubt the claims that Cotten alone must have had the key to the reserves valued in tens of millions of dollars or even whether Cotten may not have faked his death to subvert their funds.
The tragedy is, even if Cotten gets reborn – no one knows whether he would be able to recall the passwords or the encryption key on his rebirth and even if he could – whether he may take the trouble of informing the courts that he could tell them what passwords and the encryption key, he should have used for each one of them.
This gets us to the earthly truth that we should judge what we should hold only unto ourselves, what we should dispense away by telling others and what we should keep a back up of – to ward off a situation that may flounder everyone like this.