Crypto exchange Coinbase hit by tech trouble as bitcoin breaks $20,000 for first time

FILE PHOTO: A representation of virtual currency Bitcoin is seen in front of a stock graph in this illustration taken November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

LONDON (Reuters) - Major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said on Wednesday its retail and professional-focused platforms were hit by connection problems and network congestion, as bitcoin smashed through $20,000 to its highest level ever.

California-based Coinbase said on its website at 15:41 GMT it had “implemented a fix” to address “congestion issues” on its retail platform and was monitoring the situation.

Network congestion was also delaying the sending of ethereum - the second biggest cryptocurrency after bitcoin, and related tokens, it said. Its Coinbase Pro platform was also hit by the network congestion problems, it said.

Bitcoin earlier soared to $20,800, its highest ever, amid increased institutional and corporate interest. It has gained more than 170% this year as larger investors seek it for its purported resistance to inflation.

Ethereum, which often moves in tandem with bitcoin, also jumped more than 6%.

Last month Coinbase was hit by tech problems during a sharp correction for bitcoin, with users reporting difficulty trading.

Reporting by Tom Wilson, Editing by Iain Withers