Technology

Here’s why cryptocurrency prices are tanking right now

bitcoin

All major cryptocurrencies are experiencing a severe price correction, with the size of the market shrinking from about $830 billion a week ago to $570 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin is currently at $12,062, down 12.7% in the last 24 hours. Ethereum has fallen 18.8% to $1,082, and Ripple is down to $1.35 per coin, a 26.8% decline.

The correction is likely a result of several factors. Last week, South Korea’s Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said the country is preparing a ban on cryptocurrency trading. Even though other branches of government later said the ban is not finalized, the country’s stance towards the cryptocurrency market does seem to be getting tougher.

Charles Hayter, the CEO of CryptoCompare, thinks the unclear future of cryptocurrency regulations in Asia is the main driver for the correction.

“Korea and Asia in general has been a strong support for the crypto currency markets adding users and demand with prices often trading at a premium,” but now “uncertainty is spooking the markets to a degree,” he said.

Hayter describes the current market sentiment as “profit taking on the increased risk scenarios going forward.”

Trouble may be brewing for cryptocurrencies in the U.S. as well. Fortune reported Sunday that the Metropolitan Bank has halted all cryptocurrency-related international wire transfers, likely as a response to an incident of international fraud related to one of the bank’s clients. The Metropolitan Bank is a fast-growing bank — sometimes referred to as the “Bitcoin Bank” — whose client list includes some prominent cryptocurrency companies, one being the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.

Finally, it is fairly typical for the cryptocurrency market to shrink mid-January. This had happened in January 2017, when the total cryptocurrency market cap declined from 21.9 billion on Jan. 5 to a low of 14.4 billion on Jan. 12. Similarly, the cryptocurrency market cap had shrunk from $7.5 billion to $6 billion from Jan. 8 to Jan. 16, 2016, before continuing on an upwards trajectory. And in 2015, the market cap went from $5.5 billion on Jan. 2 to $3 billion on Jan. 14 (all figures are according to CoinMarketCap).

Though the correlation described above is fascinating, it’s dangerous to dismiss the current correction as just another seasonal dip. The cryptocurrency market is a lot different than it were a year ago; for starters, it’s nearly 4,000% bigger, and with the recent launch of Bitcoin futures and a huge number of upcoming blockchain-based projects, the stakes are much higher.

Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH.

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