The No. 1 and No. 2 digital currencies, bitcoin and Ether tokens, on Friday are on track to wrap up a volatile September—marked by blistering criticism from high-profile executives and intensifying regulatory focus—in the red after trading little changed on the day.
Where are bitcoin and Ether trading?
Price of a single bitcoin
was nearly unchanged at $4,199 on Friday. Over the past week, bitcoin rose by about 20%, but it’s still on track to end September 16% lower. Over the quarter, bitcoin prices are up 67%.
Year to date, bitcoin is up a staggering 320%, compared with 12% gains on the S&P 500
and 13% gain on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
Meanwhile, Ether tokens, trading on the Ethereum blockchain, were trading 3% lower at $292. Despite a 12% weekly gain, the digital currency is still in a bear market as it’s down more than 20% since the start of the month.
What has been driving crypto assets?
Digital currencies fluctuated widely in September as regulators in the U.S., China and South Korea tightened rules surrounding exchanges and so-called initial coin offerings—fundraising akin to crowdsourcing in which investors receive tokens that can be used to buy products in the future or traded in secondary markets.
In the latest such crackdown, South Korea’s Financial Services Commission announced it would step up inspections of virtual-currency exchanges and ban ICOs and coin margin transactions—buying virtual currencies with borrowed money. The Korean regulator said it was concerned with a rise in criminal cases involving cryptos.
What have the skeptics said?
Wall Street heavyweights such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
CEO Jamie Dimon and Bridgewater Associates’s Ray Dalio, both of whom said the digital currency was in a bubble.
Opinion: Do you understand bitcoin? If not, don’t buy it
What else are digital-currency participants watching?
Another source of anxiety for bitcoin prices is a controversial change to the popular cybercurrency. A change to how bitcoin is processed, known as Segregated Witness 2, or SegWit2x, is scheduled for November and would increase bitcoin’s processing power to 2 mega bytes from the current 1MB.
What is the market value of digital currencies?
Bitcoin’s total value is about $69.4 billion, as of Friday, compared with $15.3 billion at the start of the year, according to Coinmarketcap.com. Ether’s value was at $27.9 billion, compared with $780 million at the beginning of 2017.
Across the broader digital-currency segment, the total market value of an array of cryptocoins was at $143 billion, with bitcoin representing about 49% of that value.