Crypto Markets on Edge as Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Underway

The cryptocurrency market appears to have stabilized following a fresh run-in with yearly lows, as investors turned their attention to a highly contentious hard fork involving bitcoin cash. Based on latest available information, the hard fork began at roughly 16:40 UTC, with the dominant chain yet to emerge.

Market Update

Cryptocurrencies saw their collective market capitalization plunge to $176 billion on Thursday, the lowest in over a year. The market cap has since recovered to around $183.2 billion, though the vast majority of coins had reported losses over the past 24 hours.

There were a few notable exceptions, including XRP, which appears to have bottomed and is in the process of recovering slowly. The so-called banker’s cryptocurrency was last seen trading just below $0.47, having gained 2% over the 24-hour cycle.

A lesser known alternative crypto by the name of Nasdacoin (NSD) shrugged off the bear market, climbing more than 283% to $4.86. In doing so, NSD became the 63rd largest cryptoasset by market capitalization. There appears to be no major drivers behind the price increase.

Aggregate pricing data provided by CoinMarketCap show most major assets have rebounded from their recent bottom. Bitcoin, the largest of all, was last seen trading near $5,600. However, as Hacked reported earlier in the day, the BTC price varies significantly across major exchanges (Coinbase and Bitfinex being the two most prominent examples).

Daily trade volumes peaked above $25 billion at the height of the meltdown but have since fallen back to around $23 billion. Both levels are significantly higher than what the market averaged in all of the last three months. Data on daily trade volume only capture the trades executed on virtual currency exchanges, omitting a huge swathe of activity carried out in over-the-counter markets. According to some estimates, OTC trading equals and may even exceed exchange-traded volumes. This means that today’s $23 billion turnover is likely $46 billion if we factor OTC markets.

Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Begins

The highly anticipated hard fork of bitcoin cash is officially underway, as two competing versions of the protocol vie for hash rate and overall dominance. Crypto traders and observers are keeping a close eye on the latest developments to see which version comes out on top. Although recent data showed a majority of hash power concentrated in the bitcoin cash SV camp, there’s still a lot on the line, including which version the majority of users will back and which implementation miners will gravitate toward.

Several major exchanges have announced their support for bitcoin ABC, the so-called primary implementation backed by Roger Ver and Bitmain. The author can confirm that the bitcoin cash ticker symbol on Coinsquare, a Canadian crypto exchange, has already changed to BAB.

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