Saturday, July 24, 2021

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Bitcoin Falls to Two-Week Low as China Cracks Down on Crypto


Bitcoin fell to a two-week low amid an intensifying cryptocurrency crackdown in China.

The largest virtual currency fell 8% to $33,070 as of 11:12 a.m. in London. Ether declined 12% to $1,993.

China has ordered payment platform Alipay and domestic banks to not to provide services linked to trading of virtual currencies. The institutions were also ordered to cut off payment channels for crypto exchanges and over-the-counter platforms, the People's Bank of China said in a statement.

It's more evidence of China's tougher stance on crypto that's stretching from financial regulation to the energy demands of Bitcoin mining.

"The PBOC crackdown is going further than initially expected," said Jonathan Cheesman, head of over-the-counter and institutional sales at crypto derivatives exchange FTX. "Mining was phase one and speculation is phase two."

Separately, a Chinese city with abundant hydropower has stepped up action to rein in mining. A Ya'an government official told at least one Bitcoin miner that the city has promised to root out all Bitcoin and Ether mining operations with a year, said a person with knowledge of the situation.

In the backdrop, the appetite for risk assets has diminished after last week's hawkish policy pivot by the Federal Reserve. Even though equity markets tipped into the green on Monday, analysts pointed to lingering jitters about frothy corners of the market.

"If, as I expect, the global buy-everything unwind continues this week, Bitcoin will feel those chill winds," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific.

Some commentators have said China's hashrate -- the computational power used to mine coins and process blockchain transactions -- is waning amid harsher regulatory oversight.

The crypto faithful are also grappling with a tumble in tokens used in so-called decentralized-finance -- or DeFi -- applications. DeFi apps let people lend, borrow, trade and take out insurance directly from each other using blockchain technology, without use of intermediaries such as banks.

For instance, the DeFi Titanium token went from being valued at around $60 to $0 -- a rare occurrence even for famously volatile crypto markets. Famed mogul Mark Cuban had invested, telling Bloomberg News earlier that though it represented a small percentage of his crypto portfolio, the wipe-out "was enough that I wasn't happy about it."

Published : June 22, 2021

By : Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Joanna Ossinger