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Bitcoin plunges below $10,000 as cryptocurrency sell-off continues

Bitcoin plunges below $10,000 as cryptocurrency sell-off continues
The digital currency market is extending its losses, with all the major cryptocurrencies on a broad sell-off. Bitcoin is headed for its worst monthly slide since December 2013.

The market leading digital currency slid 12 percent on Wednesday to $9,817, before recovering slightly above $10,000, according to the CoinMarketCap website. Its market cap is currently around $170 billion, down about 28 percent this month.

Rival cryptocurrencies ethereum, ripple and stellar have taken hits as well.

Ethereum, the second-largest digital currency by market cap, traded about 6 percent lower, near $1,104. Ripple plunged more than 9 percent to $1.15.

Some experts have attributed the fall to the US regulators’ ramping up scrutiny of one of the world’s largest virtual currency exchanges. They also pointed to Facebook’s ban of ads tied to the industry.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Tuesday it obtained a court order to freeze the assets of an initial coin offering claiming to have raised $600 million.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Treasury wants to make sure cryptocurrencies are not used by money launderers.

“I also want to make sure that consumers understand the issues around cryptocurrencies,” Mnuchin said.

Benjamin Roberts, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Hex, an ethereum-focused start-up backed by three Canadian venture funds, attributed the sell-off to uncertainty around bitcoin's ability to improve transaction efficiency and the future development of ethereum.

He expects ethereum to become the dominant cryptocurrency this year. “We'll continue to see volatility measured in dollars until [ethereum] has significantly topped the bitcoin platform in terms of market cap,” Roberts was cited as saying by CNBC.

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