By 7 a.m. ET, the total market cap of all cryptocurrencies had fallen to $2.4 trillion, down almost 9 percent over the past 24 hours.
Bitcoin — the largest cryptocurrency in the world — tumbled almost 8 percent since Thursday morning.
The digital currency was last seen trading at $53,580, a six-week low and down more than 20 percent from its all-time high of about $69,000, which it hit earlier this month.
Other cryptos, big and small, also fell sharply Friday morning.
Ether, the native currency of the Ethereum blockchain, fell more than 10 percent over the last 24 hours, as did binance coin, the third largest crypto.
The sell-off of cryptos came as concerns about a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa spooked investors and put pressure on global stock markets.
But many crypto enthusiasts have hailed bitcoin as something of a safe haven for investors, serving as a digital alternative to gold, which has long been a favorite among investors when they’re nervous about the macro economy, such as during the pandemic.
However, as bitcoin and other cryptos tumbled amid the uncertainty Friday, the value of gold rose as investors sought to protect their assets.
Separate factors, including a bill that legislators in India are preparing that would more heavily regulate and potentially restrict cryptocurrency trading, are also weighing on the prices of the digital tokens.
Bitcoin and other cryptos have been steadily declining for a couple of weeks. And this week, many profitless tech companies that tout the potential for growth saw their stocks decline, suggesting investors are abandoning volatile and risky assets for more proven investments that are more likely to withstand an uncertain macro environment.
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