The bitcoin sell-off is back, hitting all major coins including ethereum, litecoin, Ripple’s XRP, bitcoin cash, and EOS, as $6 billion in value is wiped from the global cryptocurrency market capitalization over the weekend, according to trading data site CoinMarketCap.
The bitcoin price is this morning off by almost 5% over the last 24 hours, on the cusp of falling below the psychological $3,500 mark, with investors and traders continuing to fret over the future of major cryptocurrencies as a year-long bear market looks set to drag on well into 2019.
Ethereum, which was expected to undergo a hotly-anticipated upgrade last week before it was delayed, dropped by some 6% as investors processed the decision to postpone the so-called hard fork until February 27.
The Constantinople upgrade was suddenly called off last week, just a day before it had been expected to go live, after a security researcher discovered a bug in the software that could let attackers steal funds.
The fork, which differs from most other cryptocurrency hard forks, will reduce rewards paid to miners to from three per block to two, and is expected to reduce inflation and stabilize ethereum.
Ethereum’s Constantinople upgrade is also part of its move to a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm later this year, from the more energy intensive proof-of-work it currently uses.
This is not the first time the upgrade has been delayed, with it originally scheduled to go live in November last year, but plans were derailed due to network bugs.
Ethereum is down by a staggering 80% since its all-time highs as a so-called crypto winter, which gripped the sector last year wiped some $700 billion from the cryptocurrency market. Investors are thought to have gotten cold feet waiting for long-expected institutional investment into the sector.
“What we’re seeing now is the effect of a flat market—the overall sentiment noise is dying down so individual token developments are getting more attention,” Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at broker eToro, said last week.
Many bitcoin and cryptocurrency enthusiasts remain hopeful that the bitcoin price, along with the price of other major digital tokens, will recover eventually.
Marcus Hughes, U.K. lead counsel for San Francisco-based crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase, has said expects this year to mean big changes for bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulation around the world.
“Within the next year or two, we’ll see big developments,” Hughes said in an interview. “Regulation will take shape this year, particularly in Europe.”
Elsewhere, Hong Kong-based Binance, the world’s largest bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, has said it’s been “overwhelmed” by registrations for its new Jersey-based trading platform, which the exchange’s widely respected chief executive Changpeng Zhao put down to “crazy” demand.