Bitcoin erased its loss after setting a 2018 low earlier on Sunday, with the volatility reflecting increased scrutiny by government regulators on the embryonic digital-currency sector and global central bankers raising questions about its viability.
The biggest virtual currency was up less than 1 percent to $6,181.84 at 5:16 p.m. New York time on Sunday, after earlier falling as much as 5.2 percent to pierce the year’s previous low of $5,920.72 that was set Feb. 6, according Bitstamp prices. That brought its decline from the record high of almost $20,000 reached in December to 68 percent.
Sunday’s volatility occurred as the economic adviser and head of research for the Bank of International Settlements in Switzerland said many cryptocurrencies should be regulated like stocks and bonds. A week earlier, the BIS issued a report concluding that Bitcoin is ill-equipped to ever be a form of legal tender that could store value or handle the volume of transactions that are processed in the current financial system.
On 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.
Peer-to-peer money also came under
fresh pressure in recent weeks after two South Korean exchanges said they were hacked. That raised concerns about the security of investor holdings. India’s central bank gave commercial lenders until early July to stop providing services to any company dealing with digital coins, in an order that’s reportedly being challenged in courts.
Bitstamp is one of the major price sources for cryptocurrencies, which have no unified quotation system and can vary substantially among countries.
Bloomberg’s composite pricing, which includes Bitstamp and other sources, showed Bitcoin closed on Friday at $6,070.19.
(Updates prices in first and second paragraphs.)