Bitcoin nosedived to three-week lows early Sunday, puncturing the frenzied speculative bubble built into several alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) in the wake of Coinbase’s recent debut on Nasdaq.
- The biggest cryptocurrency by market value dropped from roughly $60,000 to $52,148 in 15 minutes during the Asian session, liquidating almost $4 billion worth of positions in the derivatives market, according to Messari's Ryan Watkins.
- While the exact reason for the sudden crash is unknown, the market mood may have soured due to rumors the U.S. Treasury is planning to charge several financial institutions with money laundering using cryptocurrencies. CoinDesk has been unable to independently verify any pending government action.
- In addition, CNBC last night tweeted as new a month-old report on India preparing to possibly ban cryptocurrencies in the country. That month-old report was based on a Reuters story citing an unnamed government official.
- Several news services treated the CNBC report as new, possibly contributing to the sell-off as fears the partial crypto ban in Turkey announced late last week may be spreading. A message to CNBC has yet to receive a response.
- At press time, bitcoin is changing hands near $54,000, representing a 12% drop on a 24-hour basis, while ether, the second-largest coin, is down almost 13%.
- Other altcoins such as XRP, polkadot, litecoin and bitcoin cash have 17% to 20% in the past 24 hours, while dogecoin is nursing a 6% loss, as per CoinDesk 20 data.
- Payments-focused XRP and meme cryptocurrency dogecoin recently saw huge retail-led price rallies as Coinbase’s hotly anticipated listing on Nasdaq on April 14 created general euphoria around the sector.
- Bitcoin rallied above $60,000 in the days leading up to Coinbase's listing and clocked a record high of $64,801 on April 14.
UPDATE (April 18, 12:43 UTC): Updates prices and adds that a month-old report regarding India may also be spooking the market.