Bitcoin fell below $10,000 for the first time since November, as a sell-off in cryptocurrencies continued for a second day Wednesday.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency was trading at $9,958.31 at about 6:50 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, and was down almost 12 percent in the last 24 hours, according to CoinDesk data. CoinDesk tracks prices from cryptocurrency exchanges Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Bitfinex. It recovered slightly to a price of $10,551.48 at around 7:45 a.m. ET.
The last time bitcoin fell below the $10,000 mark was November 30. The red-hot digital asset soared to a record high of $19,343 last month, but has since been on a gradual decline. At its current price, it is now down 48 percent from that all-time high.
In the last 24 hours, more than $36 billion of value was wiped off of the cryptocurrency.
Meanwhile, ethereum and ripple — the second and third-biggest digital assets respectively — continued to move lower. According to CoinMarketCap data, ethereum was trading more than 20 percent lower at $892 a coin after sinking beneath $1,000 Tuesday. It rose slightly to $907.31 at 7:45 a.m. ET. Ripple on the other hand fell almost 23 percent to $1.08.
Cryptocurrencies appeared to sell off shortly after South Korea’s Finance Minister, Kim Dong-yeon, said the country was still mulling a shutdown of crypto exchanges. Initial reports of South Korea — one of the biggest cryptocurrency markets in the world — moving to clamp down on virtual currency trading last week sent the price of bitcoin and a number of other major digital assets down sharply.
“The action we’re seeing may seem dramatic but is really quite normal for this market,” Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at eToro, told CNBC via email. “All in all, this drop has brought us back to the prices that were traded about a month ago for most coins.”
Greenspan said Tuesday that South Korean and Japanese investors often pay a premium of “20 percent or more per coin,” but on Wednesday said they appeared to be falling.
“The premiums that were being paid by Japanese and South Korean crypto traders is also coming down, so that’s a good sign as well,” he said.
‘No other justification than fear’
China was also reportedly looking to deepen its crackdown on the cryptocurrency market this week. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that authorities in China were planning to block domestic access to Chinese and offshore cryptocurrency platforms that allow centralized trading. Regulators will also target people and companies that provide market-making, settlement and clearing services for centralized trading, the publication said, citing unnamed sources.
And on Tuesday, a Chinese central bank official reportedly said that authorities should ban the centralized trading of digital currencies, adding weight to concerns of further suppression of the country’s cryptocurrency market.
Charles Hayter, chief executive of CryptoCompare, said that many expected the cryptocurrency market to decline.
“The market was very overheated and had significantly dislocated from trend. A large percentage of investors were expecting this correction and reversion to mean.”
Hayter said that panic was “lead the herd to sell with no other justification than fear,” but added that it was “difficult to say” where the market would be headed next.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile assets. Many experts believe that the introduction of futures contracts for bitcoin from the likes of CME and Cboe would tame the digital currency somewhat and bring in more institutional money.