Over $550 billion wiped off cryptocurrencies since record high just under a month ago
Over half a trillion dollars of value has been wiped off the entire cryptocurrency market in just under a month, as the prices of popular digital coins plunge.
On January 7, the market capitalization or value of the entire cryptocurrency market hit an all-time high of $835.69 billion, according to Coinmarketcap.com, a website that takes into account the prices of over 1,000 digital coins across different exchanges. In early trade on Tuesday, the value of the cryptocurrency market had plunged to $278.53 billion, marking a more than $557.1 billion drop since the record high.
It comes as virtual coins across the board take a hammering. Bitcoin briefly dipped below $6,000 for the first time since mid-November on Monday, according to data from CoinDesk. Bitcoin is still significantly higher on the year but down sharply since it recorded an all-time high of $19,783.21 in December.
Bitcoin's market cap has fallen $233.5 billion since that record high.
Ethereum meanwhile, which hit an all-time high of $1,432.88 on January 13, traded around $577 on Tuesday, marking a near 60 percent decline in a few weeks, according to Coinmarketcap.com data.
Third-largest cryptocurrency ripple is off more than 80 percent from its record high of $3.81 it hit earlier this month.
Both ripple and ethereum are higher than a year ago.
The sell-off appears to be prompted by a number of factors. On Monday, Financial News, a publication closely affiliated with the People's Bank of China, reported that the central bank will block all platforms related to cryptocurrency trading and the issuance of so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs).
And India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said last week that the country wants to "eliminate" the use of digital currencies in criminal activities, though India is a minor player in cryptocurrencies and the government apparently has yet to act.
Meanwhile, major banks in the U.S. and U.K. have moved to block people from using credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies.
Other worries are plaguing the digital currency market, particularly around a cryptocurrency called tether. Some experts have suggested that tether, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar, could be being created to prop up the bitcoin price.