In a season finale that could make even George R. R. Martin look away, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were put to the sword this week. In the past 24 hours BTC crashed through the $15K, then $14K resistance floors to reach $13,770 USD at press time. While losses varied, almost no crypto-asset was spared the blade — with the curious exception of Ripple’s XRP, which gained over 60 percent to sit around $1.10 USD.
Merry Christmas, Crypto Fans
The price drop comes at an unfortunate time for Bitcoin, right at the end of the working year and also when complaints over the cost of transaction fees are reaching a crescendo. Anecdotally, some newcomers — i.e. those who arrived in the past month, or haven’t been in the game long enough to realize BTC’s massive gains — are losing enthusiasm fast with this double-whammy.
Before any of bitcoin’s throne claimants started to crow over its weaknesses, however, the selling fever swept through their quarters too. On Investing.com’s new cryptocurrency charts, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and Dash all took their own walks of shame — BCH losing over a third of its value.
If things don’t pick up a little in the next few days, cryptocurrency proponents will face somber or mocking family dinner tables as they eat their Christmas dinners. In trading chat groups like Whalepool, participants called for a bottom and a bounce.
Before anyone panics and reaches for the carving knife though, let’s put things in a little historic perspective. On December 1st, bitcoin hit $10,000. On Thursday December 7th it crashed from over $17,600 to $13,430, before recovering to take a shot at $20K. Anyone who bought in after the first week of December 2017 is still ahead. For the moment.
In one potentially ominous sign, popular exchange Bitfinex announced it was temporarily pausing new account signups. However it said the halt was “due to extraordinary demand” while it made improvements to its trading infrastructure, and promised to resume by mid-January at the latest.
A Ripple of Discontent
Ripple is not only the elephant in the room, it’s the elephant rampaging and stomping on all the other kids’ toys. Why is it suddenly the darling of the moment? Long more popular in places like Japan than others really grasped, XRP may simply be riding a wave of passion among that country’s crypto day traders, whom Deutsche Bank says drives the entire market.
Looking at CoinMarketCap’s volume charts, we see the usual suspects of recent times playing a big part. Top of the list is Korea’s Bithumb, trading a whopping $1.27 billion worth of the XRP/KRW pair in the past day. Completing the top five were Bitfinex, Poloniex, Binance and Bittrex. Ripple was unsurprisingly the #2 most traded cryptocurrency after BTC.
It’s safe to say Ripple XRP sees little use as a payment currency in 2017, and there’s little evidence it even seeks to replace bitcoin as a currency of the people. Its purpose is to facilitate transactions on the Ripple network, which serves as a backend mainly to traditional financial institutions and modern fintech companies. It has none of bitcoin’s libertarian pedigree, and has no cypherpunk-inspired mission to demolish the banking system. And yet there it is, making millions for its holders.
This writer’s personal conclusion remains that 2017’s crypto asset bubble has little to do with any asset’s attributes as ideal money or long-term investment. Or perhaps, in blockchain’s most ironic plot twist ever, XRP may take the crown. Either way, expect none of this to matter in about a week.
What’s your take on today’s gruesome season finale? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Images via PxHere, Investing.com, Bitfinex, RipplesGonnaTriple.com