Former customers of MtGox, once the world's largest trading place for bitcoin, can finally file claims for lost assets.
The filings are starting over a year after the exchange collapsed with bitcoin worth hundreds of millions of dollars missing. Claims will be accepted until May 29, bankruptcy trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi announced Wednesday at a MtGox creditors' meeting.
The claims will be submitted online at claims.mtgox.com and users have the option of sending them via Kraken, the bitcoin exchange operated by Payward, which has been helping Kobayashi in investigating the lost coins and setting up the claims system.
In a blog post, Kraken said it is offering creditors various incentives for filing via its platform, including up to US$1 million in free trade volume per creditor.
In documents posted on the MtGox website, Kobayashi encouraged users to register via Kraken, saying that any bitcoin distributions he authorizes after analyzing claims would be made through the exchange.
Making distributions in bitcoin rather than cash would go against tradition in Japanese bankruptcy law, but Kobayashi said he is consulting with the Tokyo District Court, which is overseeing the case, to make that possible.
Creditors must meet a few requirements, such as knowing the original email address they used to create a MtGox account, to file online. Otherwise, they can submit hard-copy claims.
One reason it has taken until now to begin the claims process is there are over 100,000 MtGox creditors around the world, Kobayashi wrote, adding he will decide to accept or reject claims by Sept. 9.
Kobayashi also announced that he has continued to recover funds owing to MtGox and that the bitcoin balance for the bankruptcy estate, following probes into the company's bitcoin addresses, is roughly 202,159, which is today worth about $47.7 million.
"The next meeting isn't until Sept. 9," one MtGox creditor named Aaron, who only wanted his first name used, said via email after attending the meeting. "How long before we see any of our money? How much value have we lost from delays?"
Mt. Gox collapsed on Feb. 28, 2014, with liabilities of some ¥6.5 billion ($63.6 million). It said it was unable to account for some 850,000 bitcoins, worth nearly half a billion dollars at the time. It was a staggering sum, possibly purloined by hackers who exploited a bug in the bitcoin system, according to the company.
Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.