Cryptocurrencies Are Plunging on Regulatory Fears -- How Low Will They Go?

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After falling below the key $10,000 price level on Wednesday after the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a new regulatory note, bitcoin dropped sharply on Thursday. Most other cryptocurrencies are also down, with Ethereum, Ripple, and Bitcoin Cash all in the red. Here's a rundown of today's cryptocurrency prices and what specifically is putting pressure on the market.

Today's cryptocurrency prices

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As I mentioned, it's an ugly day in the cryptocurrency world, with nine of the 10 largest by market cap all negative for the day. Here's a look at the 10 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization and how much each has changed over the past 24 hours.

This chart doesn't really emphasize the wild swings that we're seeing today. In fact, after briefly regaining the $10,000 price level, bitcoin dropped by $800 in one hour before rebounding slightly.

Why are cryptocurrencies falling?

It's unclear what specifically is responsible for Thursday's plunge, as all of the major negative news items were known on Wednesday. Instead of anything specific, it seems like today's drop is just a continuation of yesterday's SEC news and other headlines. Admittedly, it was quite a bit to digest, so it's not too surprising to see more declines.

Here's a brief rundown of the recent cryptocurrency news that could be weighing on the market today:

  • The SEC issued a statement that the agency plans to require cryptocurrency exchanges to register. Specifically, it will require registration of exchanges that sell digital assets that could be considered "securities." It's unclear whether this just means initial coin offerings (ICOs), which the agency has been attempting to crack down on for some time, or if larger, mainstream currencies like bitcoin and Ethereum would also count.
  • Popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance was the target of phishing attacks that may have compromised some accounts.
  • Japan's Financial Services Agency is cracking down on some of the country's cryptocurrency exchanges. Two smaller exchanges are suspended from conducting their operations for one month, and the agency ordered five other exchanges to make improvements to their businesses -- including the Coincheck exchange, which was the victim of the largest cryptocurrency hacking incident ever in January.
  • Finally, it was reported that the bankruptcy trustee in the infamous Mt. Gox case sold about $400 million worth of bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, and may sell more in the near future. Basic supply and demand dynamics tell us that unloading this much of an asset into the market could certainly contribute to downward price pressure.

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Matt Frankel owns Ethereum and Litecoin tokens. The Motley Fool has no position in any cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.