Bitcoin and ethereum suffered massive drops, but many cryptocurrencies are faring even worse

Key Points
  • The declines in bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin were not as bad as the rest of the market
  • Bitcoin was down 16.49 percent over the last day — at $10,124 — at 11:55 a.m. London time on
  • Many cryptocurrencies with large market caps saw their prices essentially halved at the low point of the day
Bitcoin breaks below $10K

Most major digital currencies sold off sharply on Tuesday, but the declines in bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin prices weren't as bad as much of the rest of the market.

All of the top 20 digital currencies — by market value — suffered double digit losses over the last 24 hours, according to data from industry website CoinMarketCap.

For example, ripple was down 26 percent, bitcoin cash was down 19 percent, iota was down over 23 percent and monero was almost 20 percent as of 11:55 a.m. London time.

In fact, at their low point on the day, many cryptocurrencies with large market caps saw their prices essentially halved.

Bitcoin was down 16.5 percent at that time, ethereum was down 20 percent and litecoin was down 19.3 percent, according to the same site.

The declines followed speculation in the market about what regulators in Asia may be planning for digital tokens.

On Monday, a report from Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, said Beijing plans to block domestic access to Chinese and offshore cryptocurrency platforms that allow centralized trading.

Bitcoin and ether are the two most prominent cryptocurrencies.
Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Last week, South Korean Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said his ministry was preparing a bill that, if passed, could ban trading via cryptocurrency exchanges. His comments roiled the market and subsequently the justice ministry and other sections of South Korea's government have softened their stance.

On Tuesday, Reuters further reported that a senior Chinese central banker said authorities should ban centralized trading of virtual currencies as well as individuals and businesses that provide related services.

"The entire market cap of cryptocurrencies saw a sell-off post the comments on crypto from the vice governor of the PBOC," Fernando Martinez, VP trader at Hong Kong-based commodities and digital assets trading house Octagon Strategy, told CNBC.

That, according to Martinez, was on top of the "additional negative sentiments from South Korea stating that tighter crypto-controls are still a possibility."

Bitcoin was down 11.43 percent over the last day — at $10,308 — at 11:55 a.m. London time on Coinbase

Coinbase is the leading U.S. marketplace for trading bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and bitcoin cash.

Late Tuesday afternoon, bitcoin briefly dropped below $10,000 on Coinbase, after first topping the psychologically key level in late November. In December, the cryptocurrency managed to top $19,800. But still, bitcoin remains more than 1100 percent higher over the last 12 months, according to Coinbase.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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