Bitcoin hovers above US$6,000 after recovery from four-month low

NEW YORK • Bitcoin traded above US$6,000 yesterday after dropping below that level - the first time since February - over the weekend, with the digital currency heading for a second straight quarterly decline.

The cryptocurrency was trading at US$6,148.22 in Hong Kong, up 1.3 per cent from last Friday's close, according to composite Bloomberg pricing.

It slumped to as low as US$5,780 on Sunday, breaching the previous 2018 nadir set in February, according to Bitstamp, one of the major price sources for cryptocurrencies, which have no unified quotation system. Rival coins, including Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin, continue to trade lower.

Bitcoin has tumbled more than 50 per cent this year as regulators spanning the globe step up scrutiny of what some have criticised as a vehicle for fraud. A series of hacks, including a US$500 million (S$681 million) theft at a Japanese exchange in January and incidents in South Korea since then, has undermined confidence in the security of the digital currency.

In one of the latest flaps, private data including coin-wallet addresses and passwords for 19 clients were posted on a Kakao group chat on June 22, an official with South Korean exchange Bitkoex said by phone. The official added that there were no financial losses from the leak.

Sunday's volatility came as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which serves as a clearing house and research and discussion forum for central banks, continued its critique of digital currencies. The BIS' head of research said many cryptocurrencies should be regulated like stocks and bonds.

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    Extent of bitcoin's decline this year as regulators step up scrutiny of what some have criticised as a vehicle for fraud.

Last Friday, Japan's Financial Services Agency ordered six of the country's biggest crypto-trading venues to improve measures to prevent money laundering. The companies must submit their plans by July 23.

New pressure in Japan, one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions, demonstrated the market's fragility to regulatory moves in the absence of much positive news.

Bloomberg's composite pricing system includes Bitstamp and several other sources.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline 'Bitcoin hovers above US$6,000 after recovery from four-month low'. Print Edition | Subscribe