EToro has temporarily raised the minimum deposit for new customers to stem its growth after a severe systems outage caused the retail platform to be down for over 18 hours.
The company has increased the amount needed to open an account from $200 (£142) to $1,000 after seeing record volumes of customers signing up since the start of the year. It has also increased the minimum copy trade value -a function that lets users mimic the trades of established users- to $500.
The platform went down at 15:14pm yesterday during a period of extreme volatility in the cryptocurrency markets as the bitcoin price crashed down into the mid $40,000s. It was only back up and running this morning at around 9:30am, with bitcoin having by then recovered to above $50,000.
The S&P 500 was also experiencing massive gyrations, as a technology sell-off early in the trading session was later tempered by Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell’s comments on maintaining support for the US economy.
Furious customers took to social media to complain at the length of time eToro was taking to fix the problems, which left them unable to log in or trade. EToro did offer an offline option from the evening, allowing customers to place to requests to close positions. However, several customers reported being unable to place trades and the platform said it was still working through the backlog this morning.
The platform also suffered other, more limited outages that left some customers unable to log in to their accounts on 5 and 16 February.
Bitcoin has been a wild this week, hitting a new high of $58,341 on Sunday before falling by 22% to a low of $45,680 yesterday. The digital currency is now trading at $50,972 at the time of writing. Other cryptocurrencies experienced even sharper falls in the sell-off, with Ethereum, the second largest crypto by market cap, pulling back 28% from peak to trough.
EToro said it has taken on more than 2 million new customers in 2021, largely due to the surge in demand for cyrptocurrency trading.
‘The reason for the service disruption was a technical issue that affected our Microsoft database and we were forced to move the platform into maintenance mode. We worked hand in hand with senior engineers at Microsoft to identify and resolve the issue, but this took longer than any of us would have wanted,’ eToro said.
‘We have decided to introduce a number of temporary changes to the platform in light of the huge demand we are seeing for our services. These changes will help to ensure that we can provide the best possible service to all of our customers – both new and old. We will be raising the minimum first time deposit amount to $1,000 effective immediately. We will also be increasing the minimum copy value to $500.’
‘These are unprecedented times both in terms of the market conditions and eToro’s growth.’
The last year has seen retail trading platforms buckle under the pressure of heightened volumes at times of volatility. Several online brokers, including AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown, experienced outages in November as they were unable to cope with a surge in demand when a coronavirus vaccine breakthrough was announced.
Several online trading services, among them Robinhood, went into meltdown during the January trading frenzy in GameStop shares, sparking a crash in the computer games retailer’s stock price.