For 25 glorious minutes, users were free to create accounts on Bittrex, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges.
That news might seem underwhelming. However, the Seattle-based cryptocurrency exchange — seventh-largest in the world as measured by daily trading volume — had paused new user registrations in December as it worked to scale up its operations to account for the dramatic growth it has seen during the 2017 bull market. Since then, users had been onboarded through a waitlist program.
On Tuesday, it reopened them to much fanfare after revamping its website and upgrading the usability and security of its API. The company also increased its number of full-time employees by a factor of 12, from four in early 2017 to more than 50 just one year later.
“We’ve spent the past four years building Bittrex on the founding principles of innovation, security and responsibility,” said Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara in a statement. “Given these principles, pausing new user signups during a period of immense trading volume was not a decision we took lightly, but our responsibility to provide customers with a reliable platform and outstanding customer service, made it the right thing to do.
“After diligently working to improve our infrastructure and upgrade our website, we’re pleased to announce registration for new users resumed today,” Shihara said.
Unfortunately, the launch did not go as planned. Just 25 minutes after reopening user registrations, Bittrex closed them again, citing an “overwhelming response from new users.”
Difficulty onboarding new users was a near-universal problem among exchanges during last year’s parabolic fourth-quarter rally, but it’s notable that — even as public interest in cryptocurrency investing has waned in recent months — there remains this much pent-up demand for access to cryptocurrency trading platforms.
An update posted five hours later said that Bittrex was “getting closer to a fix” and said that they would begin onboarding new users “as soon as possible,” but the company had not yet specified when that would be by the time of writing.