Popular Bitocin Exchange Coinbase Seeing Surge in Complaints

The most popular online exchange for trading digital currencies is generating a surge in customer complaints this year even as investors are lured by a dramatic rise in prices.

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received at least 293 complaints about Coinbase Inc., according to data reviewed by Bloomberg. That compares with about six complaints for all of 2016, and makes Coinbase the biggest recipient of CFPB virtual currency complaints this year. The website has struggled to keep up with spiking volume and longer transaction processing times as the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies soared to record highs.

More than a third of the grievances came from individuals who said they were unable to access their money when promised. Many people also complained about other transaction or service problems. Accusations of fraud represented less than 15 percent of the complaints.

“The funds were supposed to be transferred to my checking account within three-to-five business days,” one customer complained to the CFPB in May. “I need the money.”

Megan Hernbroth, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Coinbase, declined to comment on the CFPB complaints.

Since the beginning of 2017, the CFPB has received more than 250 complaints under the “virtual currency” category. About 60 percent of those were directed at Coinbase, while many of the others were aimed at PayPal Holdings Inc. and large banks.

Coinbase, which was founded in 2012, said in June that it’s working to improve customer support. The exchange has grappled with a slew of performance issues, including outages, slow load times and a flash crash in ether, the second most valuable virtual coin.

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen an unprecedented increase in the number of customers signing up to use Coinbase,” wrote the company’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Armstrong, in a June 6 blog post. “As a result, our systems have been pushed to the limit. This has caused many customers to have a negative…

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