Bitcoin prices plunged on Friday after a major exchange announced a temporary halt to bitcoin withdrawals, sparking fears for the health to a significant player in digital currencies. Japan-based Mt Gox said it had suspended withdrawals, citing “technical issues” resulting in bitcoins losing a fifth of its value on its major US dollar denominated exchange. Increased withdrawal traffic “hindered” the company’s ability to operate, and decided to stop to assess the technical problems at large. The company said it will provide an update on February 10. All major Bitcoin trading platforms were firmly in the red on Friday night with the price of a coin losing up to US$100 in value. Before problems surfaced, a coin fetched US$827 on the market, but fell as low as US$651 as news emerged of withdrawal difficulties. Analyst Zennon Kapron noted that delays have artificially inflated the price on the Mt Gox exchange. More risk is attached to the price as customers are uncertain to when they can get hold of their money. In a letter to customers online, before the website crashed under the weight of traffic, it said: Dear Mt Gox Customers, In our efforts to resolve the issue being encountered by various bitcoin withdrawals, it was determined that the increase in the flow of withdrawal requests has hindered our efforts on a technical level. To understand the issue thoroughly, the system needs to be in a static state. In order for our team to resolve the withdrawal issue it is necessary for a temporarily pause on all withdrawal requests to obtain a clear technical view of the current processes. We apologize for the sudden short notice. All bitcoin withdrawal requests will be on pause, and the withdrawals in the system will be returned to your MtGox wallet and can be reinitiated once the issue is resolved. The trading platform will perform as usual for the needs of our customers. Our team will resolve this problem as soon as possible and will provide an update on Monday, February 10, 2014 (JST). We deeply apologize for the inconvenience caused, and thank you for your kind support and considerations. Sincerely, The MtGox Team The suspension heaps more bad news on bitcoin believers. Yesterday, tech giant Apple announced it would remove the last remaining bitcoin wallet on its App Store. In response, some users declared it would ditch their handsets for rival smartphones.