Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin price drop as cryptocurrency laws discussed by British politicians

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin price drop as cryptocurrency laws discussed by British politicians

Bitcoin price plunges as Westminster threatens to impose new cryptocurrency laws
Bitcoin peaked earlier in the week and is now on the slide (Picture: Reuters/ Getty)

The price of Bitcoin and all the other major cryptocurrencies is on the slide today following a brief recovery earlier in the week.

This morning, Bitcoin is sitting at just under $10,500 (£7,559) after sliding dramatically from a high of almost $12,000 on Tuesday.

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Both Ethereum and LiteCoin also dived by roughly 5% in the same time period, whilst Ripple has plunged by 20% since last Saturday and is currently threatening to become worth less than $1. However, Bitcoin is priced much higher today than it was a week ago, when it was worth about $9.600.

The crypto-slump comes as Britain’s Treasury Select Committee of lawmakers on Thursday threatened the introduction of new laws to govern the notoriously wild and volatile virtual currency markets.

It has launched a probe which will focus on the opportunities and risks posed to consumers, businesses and the government by the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies, the committee said.

Bitcoin price plunges as Westminster threatens to impose new cryptocurrency laws
Bitcoin surged earlier in the week before plunging (Chart: Coindesk)

A global investment craze over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the last year has seen wild gyrations in their valuations, making fortunes for some investors, while costing others a fortune.

Bitcoin, the best known virtual currency, lost over half its value earlier this year after surging more than 1,300 percent in 2017.

This week, a mass sell-off drove down the value of Bitcoin and most rival cryptocurrencies including Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin.

‘People are becoming increasingly aware of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but they may not be aware that they are currently unregulated in the UK, and that there is no protection for individual investors,’ said Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee.

Politicians will take written and verbal evidence from a range of experts on the digital currencies, before making recommendations to the government about possible further action.

The inquiry will consider whether the government is striking the right balance between protecting customers and businesses without stifling innovation.

Governments and regulators worldwide have in recent months shown themselves divided on what to do about cryptocurrencies, which have already spawned investment scams promising returns of over 1,000 percent and hacks on the exchanges that store the virtual funds.

The finance ministers and central bank governors of France and Germany earlier this month called for the policy and monetary implications of cryptocurrencies to be placed on the agenda of the upcoming G20 meeting of the largest advanced and developing economies.

The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney meanwhile on Monday said that Bitcoin has ‘pretty much failed’ as a currency measured by standard benchmarks, and is neither a store of value nor a useful way to buy things.

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But the BoE is one of a number of central banks and governments around the world that are looking into the underlying blockchain technology as a potential way of issuing digital-only currency, for making settlement more efficient, or for distributing and tracking money in the public sector.

Saudi Arabia’s central bank last week signed a deal with U.S. based digital currency firm Ripple to help banks in the kingdom settle payments using the technology.

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