The price of ethereum crashed as low as 10 cents from around $319 in about a second on the GDAX cryptocurrency exchange on Wednesday, a move that is being blamed on a "multimillion dollar market sell" order.
Ethereum is an alternative digital currency to bitcoin and had been trading as high as $352 on Wednesday. It has since rebounded from its flash-crash lows to trade to about $325 on the GDAX exchange. According to industry and price tracking website Coinmarketcap, which takes into account the price on several exchanges, ethereum was trading around $338.
Adam White, the vice president of GDAX which is run by U.S. firm Coinbase, posted on the exchange's blog, outlining what took place at around 12:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday. According to White, the multimillion dollar market sell order resulted in a number of orders being filled from $317.81 to $224.48.
As the price continued to fall, another 800 stop loss orders and margin funding liquidations caused ethereum to trade as low as 10 cents.
A stop loss order is a trade that is executed automatically once a security — in this case ethereum — hits a particular price. Margin funding is essentially trading with borrowed funds. Liquidation is when these positions are closed automatically in order to prevent further losses. The knock-on selling effect caused the flash crash on GDAX.
The chart below is a screenshot of the GDAX price showing the high and low price.