Bitcoin falls below US$50,000 as crypto sell-off continues

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Bitcoin’s price has fallen below US$50,000 for the first time since early March as a sell-off in crypto markets continued to drag down the value of digital currencies across the board.

In mid-morning trading on Friday, Bitcoin was down 11.3% in the last 24 hours at US$48,231, just over a week after hitting a record high of just over US$63,000, while its market cap stood at around US$901bn.

Meanwhile, Ethereum, the second-most valuable cryptocurrency on the market, has fallen 13% to US$2,156, erasing almost all of its gains from the past week less than 24 hours after hitting its own record high of US$2,630 on Thursday evening.

READ: Bitcoin recovers some ground after weekend flash crash

Similarly, XRP tokens, which power the Ripple blockchain, decline 22% to US$1.03, its lowest level since April 10, while meme-inspired token Dogecoin sank 8.1% to US$0.24 after reaching a record value of US$0.43 a week ago.

The crypto bear market appears to have begun on Saturday morning when Bitcoin prices suffered a sharp decline amid rumours that the US Treasury was planning to charge several financial institutions with money laundering using cryptocurrency.

READ: Cryptos to watch: What are Ripple and XRP and what do they do?

Market sentiment was also not helped by a recent announcement of a ban on cryptocurrency payments in Turkey, as well as ongoing rumours that India could follow suit.

Another possible factor in the widespread sell-off could be the somewhat lacklustre stock market performance of crypto exchange platform Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ:COIN), which despite attracting much fanfare at its debut on the Nasdaq last Wednesday has seen its shares decline from an initial intra-day high of US$429.54 on the first trading day to around US$283.23 in pre-market trading in New York on Friday, which while still above its US$250 reference price is likely a lower value than many would have hoped.

The company’s shares could fall further if crypto markets continue to slide, which in turn is likely to discourage investment and therefore drive potential users away from the platform.

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