Outages were not controlled, but problem-related

Outages were not controlled, but problem-related

Coinbase explains: Outages were not controlled, but problem-related

The crypto exchange was only partially accessible during the GameStop affair, which had caused criticism that is now being debunked.

On 29 January, users of the crypto exchange Coinbase had reported problems with the buying and selling of some cryptocurrencies. This quickly took on a stale flavour, as the influential Bitcoin Loophole trading platform had decided to temporarily halt sales of video game retailer GameStop’s stock just a day earlier. This was interpreted as kowtowing to high finance, as some hedge funds suffered massive losses from the stock being pushed by small investors.

„On Friday 29 January, api.coinbase.com went down between 04:25 – 09:31 (PST),“ as Coinbase confirmed to this effect on 5 February. „During this time, many of our users received an error message when accessing the Coinbase app, and buying, selling and trading cryptocurrencies was sporadic,“ the blog post continued. Meanwhile, Coinbase Pro, the company’s own platform for professional traders, was accessible without any problems.

As a possible reason for the outages, the crypto exchange states difficulties with the collection and conversion of rates: „We quickly realised that the error was due to a Redis cluster, which provides exchange rates for the conversion between cryptocurrencies and national currencies. Providing these exchange rates plays an essential role because they are needed to convert and display crypto assets in a user’s local currency.“

„Any functions that rely on these exchange rates in the broadest sense are therefore down. Our users were accordingly unable to use many important functions on our platform,“ as the blog post summarises.

Finally able to fix the problem

In short, an important function in the background of the crypto exchange could not cope with the rush on the crypto market, which was largely triggered by the hype around GameStop and the Robinhood affair, and buckled. Coinbase then tried several solutions and was finally able to fix the problem, after which the trading platform was back in normal operation.

Finally, Coinbase discusses several changes that IT has made to prevent such a problem in the future. Already in the past, the crypto exchange had to deal with outages time and again. In November 2020, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong himself confirmed that his platform was working at full speed to fix all known problems.