Bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency market, including major coins ripple (XRP), ethereum, bitcoin cash, stellar, EOS, and litecoin, have fallen sharply today ahead of a bitcoin cash fork that’s threatening to tear the bitcoin rival apart.
Bitcoin fell below the psychological $6,000 mark for just the second time this year amid a wider sell-off that saw almost all major coins fall by at least 10%. Bitcoin dipped below $6,000 in June but quickly climbed back, according to CoinDesk’s price tracker.
The bitcoin price plummetted to $5,534 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange before rebounding somewhat. Earlier today a bitcoin price indicator, known as the “death cross” was seen for the first time since December 2014, CoinDesk reported.
The bitcoin price has been stuck in a downward trend all year—dragging the wider cryptocurrency market with it. The bitcoin price is down some 70% from its peak while the likes of other major cryptocurrencies ripple (XRP) and ethereum are down around 80%.
The last time the bitcoin price was below $6,000 for any significant time was November 2017, suggesting that the bitcoin bull run many have been hoping will emerge in the run-up to Christmas will not appear.
“The market had been entering a wedge, with the volatility so low,” said Charlie Hayter, founder of crypto data website Cryptocompare, told Reuters.
“What you are seeing low is a breakout on the downside. Sometimes when things happen, it takes a while for the true reason to become clear – an exchange trade or regulatory action.”
Earlier this month bitcoin volatility hit its lowest for nearly two years, with price swings falling lower than increasingly edgy U.S. stocks for more than two weeks in a row.
Earlier this week, the respected chief executive of bitcoin exchange Binance, Changpeng Zhao, said he expects another bitcoin “bull run” to happen “sooner or later”, telling CNBC’s Crypto Trader program: “Even if I don’t know what will catalyze a bitcoin bull run, I am certain it will happen… Sooner or later, something will trigger it.”
Elsewhere, a new San Francisco and Singapore-based hedge fund, Circuit Capital, is arguing the fall in bitcoin price over the last 10 months has obscured the growing use of cryptocurrencies among consumers and investors.
“Despite what is happening with prices, we’re seeing adoption growing and a lot of people are looking to scale crypto businesses,” Circuit partner Eugene Ng told Bloomberg. “We are starting to see talent moving into this space and institutional infrastructure developing.”
However, earlier this week a report revealed corporate interest in bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and the underlying blockchain technology could be waning.
S&P 500 executives are dropping blockchain buzzwords less on earnings calls and during presentations to analysts and investors, according to U.S. politics website Axios.
It was not immediately clear what had triggered the sudden sell-off today but tensions in the bitcoin sector are high ahead of a fork of the bitcoin cash cryptocurrency, expected tomorrow.
Bitcoin cash, which split from the original bitcoin blockchain last year, will tomorrow split in two again, creating a third cryptocurrency. The two digital currencies will go by the names Bitcoin ABC (core Bitcoin Cash) and Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision).
Bitcoin cash has been highly volatile in the run up the fork, rising as much as 50% over the last few weeks before falling sharply more recently.
In order to support the market and reassure investors many major bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges, including Coinbase, Binance, and Bitfinex, have said they will support the hard fork, meaning owners of bitcoin cash will receive 1:1 per new cryptocurrency.