Image 123RF/Akarat Phasura
Image 123RF/Akarat Phasura

Bitcoin’s tumble worsened over the weekend, putting the 2018 crash within striking distance of the cryptocurrency’s worst bear markets.

The virtual currency, conceived just over a decade ago, fell as low as $3,475 on Sunday, Bitstamp prices show. It was trading at $4,033 as of 7.40am in London, according to Bloomberg composite pricing. That’s 5.3% below its level at 5pm New York time on Friday, and about 79% below its closing peak in December.

The crash, which also ensnared rival coins like Ether and XRP, has now entered the same league as Bitcoin’s 93% plunge in 2011 and its 84% rout from 2013 to 2015, during the collapse of Tokyo-based crypto exchange Mt Gox. In dollar terms, the damage has been even bigger this time around: virtual currencies tracked by CoinMarketCap.com have lost more than $700bn of value since the market peaked.

While bulls are betting that demand from institutional investors will spark a rally, most big money managers have stayed on the sidelines amid concern over exchange security, market manipulation and regulatory risk.

The sell-off is “really testing the faith of a few key players,” Ryan Rabaglia, Hong Kong-based head trader at OSL, a cryptocurrency dealing firm, said in a phone interview. “I do think for this next push, we are going to need that institutional money to come in finally. To lend that support and help with growth.”

Bloomberg