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In a trend that is fast becoming a pattern, Bitcoin price crashed suddenly yesterday, losing as much as $200 of its value in 30 minutes. The cryptocurrency is currently trading below $7,000, a price band it recovered from this past May.
This is not the first time that Bitcoin price has shocked analysts this year. A chart for Bitcoin’s price movement in 2019 displays an undulating and craggy pattern, drawing the cryptocurrency’s often perilous attempts to climb out of a protracted bear market.
At the moment, one bitcoin is changing hands at $6648.16, a decline of 21.36% from its price 24 hours ago. The crypto market is tanking along with the original cryptocurrency, and all coins in the top 10 most-traded cryptos are in the red. The overall market capitalization of cryptocurrencies has plummeted by almost $10 billion to $178 billion in less than 12 hours.
Did PlusToken scammers cause the crash?
Various theories are doing the rounds as to the causes for the current crash in Bitcoin prices. One of the most plausible ones focuses on PlusToken—an alleged scam perpetrated earlier this year. A report released by crypto forensics firm Chainalysis yesterday implicated PlusToken promoters, who held considerable amounts of Bitcoin, for the selloff that led to a crash in Bitcoin prices.
But that explanation is insufficient to explain Bitcoin’s price action when you consider Bitcoin’s low liquidity and diverse trading venues, stated Brian Kerr, CEO of Kava Labs—a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform for crypto leverage and hedging, in an email interview with Decrypt. According to Kerr, the Chainalysis explanation is suspect because crypto exchanges and OTC desks, which account for a majority of crypto volumes, do not disclose trading figures.
“In both cases, onchain movements only correlate with movements rather than indicate them,” he explained. This means that wallet transfers displayed on a cryptocurrency’s blockchain, which were cited in the Chainalysis report, may not be the exact trading numbers for cryptocurrencies.
A year-end liquidation by traders and fatigue from the prolonged bear market are also being cited as possible reasons for the price drop. “Many companies and individuals that hold Bitcoin or other crypto still need to liquidate to fund their day to day expenses, and the fear of Bitcoin crashing even further is likely causing people to sell off further,” Simon Yu, CEO of StormX, an e-commerce platform for micro-tasking, told Decrypt.
These reasons for the crash correspond to fundamental factors and news developments relating to cryptocurrency markets. But some crypto traders have also come up with technical explanations.
What price do you guys have for the bottom on this #bitcoin downtrend?
I think we could see $5500 personally as it is the 78.6% from the swing low to swing high, but we may see a bounce or two in between here and there. pic.twitter.com/2TSK8XhecH
— Jacob Canfield (@JacobCanfield) December 17, 2019
Others are examining whether the current price drop represents a bottoming out of bitcoin price. But those explanations do not sit well with Yu. “I was never a believer in technical indicators,” he said. Again, low liquidity and trading volumes are to blame.” Yu said they can magnify the effect of macro events and flash crashes. “If traders could predict the future, I’d think they’d capitalize on the opportunity for themselves, versus sharing that knowledge out to the public,” he said.
Will it be a Merry Christmas for Bitcoin?
Stock markets typically have a Santa Claus rally when equity prices pop in the last five days of the year and, sometimes, even into the first couple of days of the next year. While it is a relatively new asset, Bitcoin price has followed a similar price pattern on some occasions—most recently in 2016. Ever since it came into mainstream spotlight in 2017, however, Bitcoin price has bucked the trend. With only 13 days left in this year, the chances of Bitcoin price setting a new high are not bright.
Christmas time is a time for gifting and holiday shopping, expenses that might cause investors to liquidate their positions for funding their purchases, said Yu. Traders will also use this time to exit their positions and realize their capital gains or losses, making it further possible for prices to decline in the short term. “Until wrapped BTC on a Ledger makes a great holiday gift, I’ll personally be bearish until the new year,” said Kerr.
Christmas might not be so merry for HODLers, then.