There is never a dull moment in cryptocurrency markets. Earlier this morning, bitcoin’s price was conducting an orderly retreat from its highs recently. While the decline was surprising, it was not entirely unexpected considering the inherent volatility of digital coin price movements.
At 17:00 UTC, however, bitcoin’s price was $10,014.39, down 6.49% from 24 hours ago. More importantly, the original cryptocurrency had shed approximately 8% off its price in less than an hour. It also fell below $10k less than a week after crossing it. In monetary terms, that meant a decline of more than $600. The sudden decline in bitcoin’s price was a signal to the remaining cryptocurrencies and all of them registered significant declines. Cardano and EOS were the biggest losers, shaving 13% and 14% off their overall prices. Ethereum wiped out all its gains this year due to the crash.
The overall market cap for cryptocurrencies was down by 10% in the last 24 hours to $403.6 billion, as of this writing. The last time that it was at this level was during its rise in December. Still, the markets are $100 billion away from their lows a month ago, when prices crashed on fears of government crackdown.
Why Did Bitcoin Fall?
As is often the case, there are no clear reasons for the market’s precipitous fall. The SEC again issued a warning against unregulated exchanges. But the more likely reason might be a logistical one.
According to a Reddit thread, Binance, a fast-growing crypto exchange, has disabled withdrawals due to issues with funds. A separate thread on the same site details two main issues. In the first instance, the exchange’s users found that their altcoins had been sold for bitcoin. Second, users also discovered their accounts were configured to purchase “a specific coin” at a price several times higher than its market price. Viacoin, the crypto cited in the previous sentence, shot up by more than 30% this afternoon.
Based on statistics at Coinmarketcap.com, Binance accounted for the highest trading volume among worldwide exchange in the last 24 hours. A stop in trading activity may have declined the transaction volume for cryptocurrencies. Amid the clampdown on trading activity by Chinese authorities, Binance (which is based in Hong Kong) has kept a relatively high profile. It has already begun generating profits and was reportedly adding users at a rapid clip of 200,000 per hour last December.
Tokyo’s Bitcoin Whale
There’s an interesting report in Bloomberg today about a bitcoin whale based in Tokyo. Nobuaki Kobayashi is an attorney and former trustee of Mt. Gox, a cryptocurrency exchange that crashed in 2014. He has sold $400 million worth of bitcoin since last September to pay off creditors. According to Bloomberg, he still holds $1.9 billion worth of bitcoin. The report is brief but sheds lights on operations of bitcoin whales, who are supposed to control cryptocurrency markets through the heft of their holdings. It also brings several unanswered questions to the fore regarding the timing of Kobayashi’s sales and whether he worked in concert with other whales or alone.