The price of bitcoin has fallen below the $6,000 mark this morning, the first time it has slipped under this value since early November last year.
Investors, many who may have invested in or around the peak of more than $19,000 in mid-December 2017, could now be facing huge losses on their cryptocurrency gamble.
The last time it was valued below $5,000 a coin was October last year, and $4,000, September. Speculators who bought in beyond these prices will be hoping that the fall in its value will finally stop.
However, Will Hobbs, head of investment strategy at Barclays Smart Investor, says the cryptocurrency rout isn’t over.
Falling: The price of bitcoin has fallen below the $6k mark for the first time since last November
He said: ‘The frenzy surrounding crypto has ebbed and flowed with prices.
‘Through the several hundred per cent ascent over 2017, to the 70 per cent decline since bitcoin’s 2017 peak, there has been no commensurate – or even perceptible – change in the fundamental prospects in the cryptocurrency. The same applies for most of its peer group.
‘We continue to argue that without a role in the global economy, the intrinsic value of many of these cryptocurrencies still sits a long way below their current trading levels.
‘This role is still elusive in many cases, while the arguments behind the idea of a future ‘bitcoin standard’ are still economically illiterate.
‘None of the crypto currencies currently fulfil any of the criteria that we would look for in an investible asset and we would continue to advise extreme caution.
‘The rout in crypto currencies is still not finished.’
Further falls? The last time bitcoin fell below $5k was in October last year. It would represent a near 75% fall in its peak value
Ethereum has slipped to $415 a coin, a level not seen since last November, while ripple and litecoin have also suffered falls.
The further drops come as the Bank of England warns that banks and insurers should be wary of crypto assets, because they can be highly volatile and vulnerable to fraud.
Interest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin surged last year as prices rocketed.
Then they tumbled in recent months, triggering warnings from regulators across the world.
Sam Woods, the BoE deputy governor responsible for financial supervision, said the range of products and market participants related to crypto assets has grown quickly.
What next for bitcoin?
After last year’s mania when Bitcoin’s price spiked to almost $20,000, the cryptocurrency took a tumble and interest has drained away.
Now Bitcoin Google searches are down 90%. Is that it for cryptocurrency, or is it time to buy for the long-term when things are quiet?
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He said: ‘In their short history, crypto-assets have exhibited high price volatility and relative illiquidity,’ Woods said in a letter dated June 28 to the chief executives of banks and insurers he regulates.
‘Crypto-assets also raise concerns related to misconduct and market integrity – many appear vulnerable to fraud and manipulation, as well as money-laundering and terrorist financing risks.’
The BoE expects companies to inform their usual supervisory contact of any planned crypto-asset exposure or activity, together with an assessment of the risks associated with the intended exposure.
Risks from crypto assets should be considered by the corporate boards and executive management.
Earlier in the month, an academic paper suggested that the price of bitcoin was artificially increased last year by a small number of holders.
The paper is by John Griffin, a finance professor at the University of Texas who has a track record for spotting fraud in financial markets.
Alongside graduate Amin Shams, it claims that a concentrated campaign of price manipulation was likely to have accounted for half the increase in the price of bitcoin – and others – late last year.
Mr Griffin said of the 66 page document: ‘There were obviously tremendous price increases last year, and this paper indicates that manipulation played a large part in those price increases.’
Bitcoin has a market cap of 21million coins.
It is believed around 82 per cent of these coins have already been mined.
IF YOU DO BUY INTO BITCOIN
Find out how bitcoin and the blockchain works, so that you have some understanding of the system, the ledger, the major players and the public and private key elements.
Remember bitcoin yields nothing and its main source of value is scarcity. Most bitcoin activity is trading not investing.
Research coin wallets, the digital vaults where cryptocurrency is held, and consider security carefully. Bitcoins have been stolen before, understand how this happened.
Be prepared for extreme volatility. The price can move by 20 per cent in one day and you could easily lose half of your cash in a far quicker time that investing in the stock market.
Consider how you would cash in any gains. There are reports that this has proved hard for some people. A time of market stress could lead to people being locked in and unable to trade.
Read our guide to How to be a successful investor, which looks at the far less high octane world of long-term investing and how to make it a success.
What is bitcoin?
The digital currency that most will be familiar with is free from government interference and can be shared instantly online. It doesn’t rely on trusting one central monetary authority.
The underlying technology is blockchain, a financial ledger maintained by a network of computers that can track the movement of any asset without the need for a central regulator.