On Thursday, December 8, 2017, amid speculation and soaring bitcoin prices, the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase briefly enjoyed a place at the top of Apple's App Store.
As its popularity continues to rise, the exchange has admittedly felt some growing pains as it scales to support a flourishing user base. Even as Coinbase climbed the charts of the App Store, now occupying number two of the top ten, some users found themselves unable to access the application. During an all-time high for both markets and traffic, what is colloquially referred to as "the hug of death" seems to have briefly held Coinbase in its embrace, as exponential traffic bogged down the service.
Coinbase did bounce back, and as of press time its servers are live. In light of the attention the exchange is seeing, the Co-Founder and CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, released a statement on the company blog in which he reminded users to invest responsibly, and said that heavy investments are being made to scale out the platform.
"Over the course of this year we have invested significant resources to increase trading capacity on our platform and maintain availability of our service. We have increased the size of our support team by 640% and launched phone support in September. We have also invested heavily in our infrastructure and have increased the number of transactions we are processing during peak hours by over 40x."
Still, the statement goes on to warn, "Despite the sizable and ongoing increases in our technical infrastructure and engineering staff, we wanted to remind customers that access to Coinbase services may become degraded or unavailable during times of significant volatility or volume." The downtime might make it so users can't sell or purchase on the platform for periods of time, and that in addition to these delays support cases not related to immediate account security issues may also be postponed.
Coinbase also provided a proactive checklist of guidelines for users to assess their accounts:
"1. Ensure your email address is properly receiving all communications and notifications from Coinbase. To learn more about ensuring email delivery, please refer to this support article.
2. Ensure your two-factor authentication is updated and functional. If you have recently switched mobile devices, your two-factor authentication needs to be properly migrated to the new device. In addition, please migrate from SMS two factor to Google Authenticator to enhance the security on your account, if you have not already done so. To learn more about two-factor authentication, please refer to this FAQ.
3. Familiarize yourself with your buy and sell limits. They can be found here.
4. Complete any pending identity verifications. During times of significant volatility, ID verification may become degraded or unavailable. To learn more about identity verification on Coinbase, please refer to this FAQ.
5. Expect payments to take the maximum number of days indicated when making a deposit or withdrawal."
Coinbase said it is committed to safety, security, and transparency, and will continue to keep the community abreast of issues the platform experiences "during periods of extraordinary demand."