Bitcoin

Bitcoin Tracker: What Goes Up

“What goes up must come down” is, unfortunately, the most appropriate proverb to open this week’s bitcoin tracker. It all started when the price of bitcoin dropped by some $70 on Tuesday (March 7) for no readily apparent reason.

Bitcoin had spent the past week climbing toward new record highs on optimism that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could soon approve a bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund. Yet trading on Tuesday morning saw a sharp drop in the value of everyone’s favorite digital currency, from around $1,280 on Monday evening down to just over $1,207 by mid-morning Tuesday.

While bitcoin appeared to have begun the process of recovering from the slip on Tuesday afternoon, the loss wasn’t over yet. The graph reads as a classic case of two steps forward, one step back. Bitcoin would appear to recover, then sink further. By the late hours of Wednesday, bitcoin had dropped to around $1,135 — down $145 (11 percent) from where it had been less than 48 hours before.

Bitcoin trading on Thursday started another period of recovery. At the time of writing, bitcoin was worth $1,189.46, up 3.39 percent from Wednesday’s close and trending upward with a market cap over $19.2 billion.

In the first few hours that the price of bitcoin was down, some speculated that it could mean the SEC had denied approval for a bitcoin ETF. Despite what the graph might imply, the SEC has yet to make a formal announcement on their decision regarding the Winklevoss twins’ proposed bitcoin ETF. On that point, the financial organization has until March 11.

For investors who bought in when bitcoin was a crypto-newborn — or at a time when the value was low — this dip down from record highs is at most a minor percentage off of some significant long-term gains. However, for those who just bought in recently: This is the volatility everyone was talking about.

This time last month, many of the major exchanges in China halted bitcoin and other cryptocurrency withdrawal capabilities for one month as part of an effort to combat money laundering at the request of the PBoC. Now, it appears users will have to wait a bit longer.

While major exchanges BTCC, Huobi and OKCoin had all recently announced completion of upgrades, CoinDesk reported that legal experts in China believe the decision to resume full trading activities will now be delayed until after March 15, the last day of China’s National People’s Congress.

In addition to the delay, Chinese bitcoin exchange Yunbi, which had been free of service disruption through February, announced on Wednesday a pause on bitcoin withdrawal to comply with anti-money laundering policy. CNY withdrawal capabilities have not been affected.

Yunbi did not give a specific date for when withdrawal capabilities would resume, saying it “will be determined after the AML system passed the examination from regulation departments. YUNBI will work with other colleagues in China to build a healthy ecosystem of the blockchain industry. YUNBI will make efforts to build a healthy blockchain assets exchange under the regulation requirements.”

But it wasn’t all delays, closures and value loss for the bitcoin ecosystem this week.

London-based digital currency and online banking startup Wirex Limited raised £2.45 million ($3 million) in a Series A venture funding round. The company produces a virtual bitcoin wallet as well as both digital and physical payment cards that enable users to buy, upload and make purchases with both digital and traditional currencies. To date, Wired has raised$3.19 million in two funding rounds, including a $186,000 equity crowdfunding round in late 2015.

Japanese financial services company SBI Group’s led the Series A. The company is pushing to up its presence in Japan, where bitcoin will be regulated as of this April.

“Japan is a key market for bitcoin-compatible financial products and services, and one of our fastest-growing customer base[s],” Wirex Limited cofounder Pavel Matveev was quoted as saying. “We are delighted to have this strategic partnership with the SBI Group. Together we can push bitcoin adoption in the Asia-Pacific region to the next level.”

Wirex reportedly plans to use the Series A investment to fund new features, including contactless bitcoin payments, along with the addition of new currencies in its digital and physical repertoire and more bitcoin-based financial products.

The company boasts over 500,000 customers and serves more than 130 countries worldwide. Wirex reports a 23 percent month-on-month rate of growth and has offices in London, Tokyo and Kiev. Additionally, the startup is reportedly targeting total customer growth to 2 million by the end of this year, said Business Insider, with a focus on Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

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