There was no weekend bounce or early week lift for bitcoin and top altcoins, and even less so for the rest of the crypto market. Things may be starting to shift in a more positive direction now though as blockchain news from Chinese tech giants Baidu and Didi Chuxing feeds through.
The leading cryptocurrency was trading at $7,150, threatening to fall below the key psychological $7,000 mark but has since clawed back losses over the past 24 hours. It is up 1% at $7,350 although traders still worry that bitcoin could enter the danger zone between $6,900 and $6,660.
If bitcoin breaks below $6600 the the next stop could be a revisiting of the $5,000s last seen in November, at which point buyers would be expected to enter the market.
As things stand bitcoin has been trading at four-week lows. It last closed below $7,000 on 5 April $6,658.
Overall crypto market cap has fallen to $308 billion with bitcoin dominance touching 40% as altcoins shed value at an even faster rate than bitcoin.
Again, regulatory uncertainty is being blamed for the sustained sell-off, and the slow speed of adoption by institutional investors, despite Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan indicating they are building trading desk for crypto.
Regulators in the US, UK, Japan and South Korea have all made recent moves to tighten oversight of markets and exchanges, with the US being particularly aggressive in shutting down initial coin offerings it deems to be selling securities when they are not authorised to do so. US regulators are also investigating market manipulation.
Although in the short-term regulatory tightening may be viewed negatively by market participants, it is in the medium to ling-term interest of the industry to drive out bad actors and to increase market efficiencies. Part of the battle to attract mainstream investor interest is clamping down on the Wild West practices that are thought to be prevalent in the industry, where market surveillance is pretty much non-existent.
Chinese blockchains move forward
The bearish sentiment in the markets contrasts with advances in blockchain adoption seen in China, although those developments may be lifting crypto today.
Didi Chuxing otherwise known in the West as the “Uber of China”, is launching a blockchain-based version of its taxi service. Ride-hailing internet platforms have been a target of tokenisation disruptors but it looks like the incumbents are not hanging around to let that happen and are embracing the technology themselves. Didi has a large investment in Estonian ride-sharing app Taxify.
Also China’s Google, Baidu is making moves in the blockchain space too. It’s online encyclopedia is using decentralised ledger technology to log revisions to information on the platform. At the beginning of April the company launched a blockchain-based stock photo platform to protect image rights. The service, which also uses artificial intelligence, is called Totem. Kodak announced it was doing something similar but no product has yet been launched.
Blockchain startup Selfllery also has a stock photo rights protection and tracking service up and running.
Another positive for the sector comes from the musings of respected economic historian Niall Ferguson, whose many books include the well-received The Ascent of Money. He said in a seminar for the Bank of England that crypto and blockchain were the future:
“The financial system of today is not fundamentally that different than the financial system of the pre-crisis period, except that big banks are better capitalised. I don’t think much else is really different. The novelties, the things that will really matter ten years hence are still relatively small in scale. Whether its bitcoin or cryptocurrency generally or the massive revolution in online payments that is being achieved by the big Chinese tech companies, that’s the financial system of the future, and it is still small enough not to be systemically important in 2018. In short, I am left feeling we are only a matter of time before the next crisis.”