Cryptocurrency prices plunged across the board suddenly and sharply Wednesday morning, seemingly with no clear reason.
Having been steady at about $7,350 a coin during most of trading during both Asian and European morning hours, bitcoin lost more than $200 in mere minutes starting about 5:50 a.m. ET, or 10:50 a.m. BST. It took another leg down an hour later, falling below the psychologically significant $7,000 mark, before breaking back above that mark as the day continued.
By 11.05 a.m ET, the largest crypto by market value was trading at $7,008 a coin, a fall of 4.7% on the day.
Bitcoin was the most obvious casualty of the sudden sharp fall, but other major cryptocurrencies including ether, Ripple’s XRP, and bitcoin cash fell even more steeply. Here’s the scoreboard:
- Ether -11.7% at $259.3
- Ripple’s XRP -10.9% at $0.3039
- Bitcoin cash -13.5% at $562
- Litecoin-9.35% at $62.70
Though the drop’s cause is unclear, a theory put forward by Tanya Abrosimova of FXStreet is that the introduction of a registration process for the popular instant bitcoin exchange ShapeShift may have spooked some users and triggered at least part of the drop.
After the initial sell-off, cryptocurrencies continued to fall after Business Insider reported that Goldman Sachs has shelved near-term plans for the launch of a bitcoin trading desk.
Wednesday’s selling comes after several days of strong gains for cryptocurrencies, despite the recent rejection by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of several bitcoin-based exchange-traded funds.