Bitcoin Plunges $2,000 on Eve of Futures Contract

Bitcoin prices declined sharply over the weekend, as traders locked in profits before the highly anticipated XBT futures contract.

BTC/USD Price Levels

The value of bitcoin pulled back sharply on Sunday, with prices hitting a low of $13,474. BTC/USD would later consolidate at $13,662 for a loss of $1,931, or 12.4%. The decline shaved tens of billions of dollars off bitcoin’s market cap. The coin was last valued at roughly $227 billion.

Despite the loss, trade volumes were still extraordinarily high on Sunday. Daily turnover in the bitcoin market crossed $14.7 billion. Interestingly, the Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange (BitMEX) saw the highest turnover Sunday at roughly 17% of the total transactions, which was equivalent to $2.5 billion South Korea’s Bithumb processed nearly 13% of all trades via BTC/KRW, which amounted to $1.9 billion. Bitfinex came in third at 9%, or $1.3 billion.

Bitcoin put up massive gains this week, leading U.S. exchange Coinbase to crash temporarily. The exchange would later issue issue a gentle warning reminding account holders to “please invest responsibly.”

At its absolute peak, bitcoin clocked in above $19,500.

Broader Crypto Market Collapse

Bitcoin certainly wasn’t the only cryptocurrency in hot water on Sunday. In fact, the top 18 cryptos by market cap were in the red, according to CoinMarketCap. Only three of the top 66 coins were trading in positive territory.

Heavy losses were reported across the board, with the leading altcoins affected. Below is a rundown of some of the losses early Sunday:

Cryptocurrency Performance
Ethereum (ETH): -9%
Bitcoin Cash: -13%
Litecoin (LTC) -12%
DASH (DASH) -10%
Monero (XMR) -16%
Bitcoin Gold (BTG) -18%
NEM (XEM) -30%
Stellar Lumens (XLM) -18%
EOS (EOS) -16%

As a result of the collapse, the combined value of cryptocurrencies fell to $376 billion Sunday. That represents a drop of $65 billion in just 24 hours. The total crypto market cap peaked north of $452 billion on Friday.

The declines followed another streak of record-setting gains for global cryptos that was largely driven by bitcoin. The world’s most expensive cryptocurrency has been riding high on news that CBOE will launch its bitcoin futures contract (XBT) a full eight days before rival CME Group.

XBT is a cash-settled futures contract based on the Winklevoss brothers’ Gemini auctions price. The contract will begin trading 6:00 p.m. ET Sunday on the CBOE Futures Exchange.

There’s no way to know for sure how Wall Street will treat the new derivatives contract. On Friday, the Futures Industry Association (FIA) issued a stern statement to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) that its members were concerned about the derivatives contract. In an open letter, the lobby group said XBT “did not allow for proper public transparency and input.”

Futures trading is said to be the domain of short-sellers, which could make bitcoin more volatile than before. That being said, the bitcoin community is excited about the prospect of a futures contract that enables them to bet on price swings without having to rely on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi