The Virtual Currency Girls hit their first major snag in their dream of a cryptocurrency utopia.

A major theft at the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck caused the service to shut down completely and left the idols holding the empty bag. The girls had previously agreed to only be paid in cryptocurrency to support the group’s message. It was also the way to buy both tickets and merchandise for the group.

The Virtual Currency Girls held a press conference on January 27 explaining that the five-member group was supposed to receive two million yen in wages (US$18,400) through the Coincheck exchange. The Cinderella Academy agency offered to pay the girls in yen but they declined, instead standing by their position on cryptocurrency. While Coincheck is down, they also cannot receive payment for tickets or merchandise but still plan to perform as scheduled.

The masked idol maids were brought together to promote a future where initial coin offering (ICO) offer hope, instead of the risks of “fraud” and “crashes” sometimes associated with virtual currency. Each member is promoting a specific cryptocurrency and the group is led by BitCoin Cash idol Rara Nanase. The other members represent the original BitCoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Neo (NEO), Mona (MONA), Cardano (ADA), NEM (XEM), and Ripple (XRP). The idols range in age from 15 to 22, although two members are keeping their ages a secret.

Coincheck issued a statement on Sunday that it will compensate approximately 260,000 individuals in yen for the loss of cryptocurrency NEM (XEM), for a total of 523 million XEM. Coincheck will pay out 46.3 billion yen (US$426 million), an about 20% depreciation of the cryptocurrency’s worth. The money will come from Coincheck’s own funds, but the company did not say when the refunds will take place.

Hackers managed to steal the equivalent of US$530 million, more than the US$400 million in BitCoin stolen from Mt Gox in 2014, making it the largest theft of its kind. The Japanese government is now supervising the company’s response to the hack and has asked Coincheck to improve its business practices in light of the recent events.

Other cryptocurrency exchanges targeted by hackers recently include Youbit in South Korea and NiceHash in Slovenia.

Text: Lynzee Loveridge
Source: Oricon News via JPop Asia (Aysohmay), YaraonCNN Tech (Daniel Shane, Yoko Wakatsuki)
Top image: YouTube/星座百景 【12星座のアイドルグループ】

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