Photo/IllutrationGenki Oda, center back, president of BITPoint Japan Co., holds a news conference in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on July 16, where the firm said it will reimburse about 50,000 customers who lost assets with bitcoin. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

Cryptocurrency exchange operator BITPoint Japan Co. will reimburse about 50,000 customers who lost assets in an apparent hacking with cryptocurrency, not cash, it announced on July 16 at a news conference in Tokyo.

The operator told media on the day that it lost about 3.02 billion yen ($28 million) worth of its virtual currency after its online holdings were illegally accessed. The figure is about 500 million yen less than the firm initially announced when it revealed the theft on July 12.

About 2.06 billion yen of the total amount lost by BITPoint Japan were customer assets, with the remainder belonging to BITPoint Japan.

The BITPoint heist is the latest in a series of high-profile thefts of virtual currency in Japan.

According to the Financial Services Agency, about 260,000 Coincheck Inc. customers lost assets when hackers hit the firm in January 2018, the largest number to fall victim to a virtual currency heist in Japan.

About 130,000 Zaif exchange customers suffered the same fate in September 2018. With about 50,000 customers affected, the BITPoint Japan attack is Japan's third largest so far.

Genki Oda, 38, president of BITPoint Japan, apologized at the news conference and said that the operator has been investigating the cause of how the assets were siphoned off.

BITPoint Japan said after restoring the service it will repay customers with cryptocurrency, meaning, for example, it will give one bitcoin to a customer for each bitcoin they lost. It has already prepared cryptocurrency to reimburse assets equivalent to 2.06 billion yen.

For customers at Coincheck and Zaif, the stolen assents were reimbursed in cash. As cryptocurrency tends to widely fluctuate, customers might face losses due to price declines depending on the timing of when they receive refunds in cash.

Concerning measures to address price declines, Kimio Mikazuki, BITPoint Japan's company director, said, “I want to refrain from answering the question as it includes legal matters.”