Cryptocurrencies Plunge 23% Overnight as SEC, Tokyo Whale Trigger Mass Exodus

The cryptocurrency market was a sea of red Friday, with the world’s top-ten coins each recording losses of at least 8%. Several factors contributed to the drop, including a fresh warning from the SEC targeting digital currency exchanges and the unloading of $400 million worth of bitcoin by a renowned Tokyo whale.

Selloff Intensifies

Cryptocurrencies resumed their selloff on Friday, with bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin each reporting losses of 10% or more. A quick visit to CoinMarketCap‘s main page reveals the following:

Bitcoin prices broke below $8,700 for the first time in nearly a month, dragging its market cap all the way down to $148 billion.

Ripple’s XRP was last seen hovering around $0.75, a one-month low.

Carnage was also reported outside the top-ten, with Dash shedding 10%, IOTA 15% and bitcoin gold nearly 12%.

The value of all cryptocurrenices has plunged more than 23% over the past 24 hours. The total market is now worth less than $352 billion, the lowest since early February.

SEC Warns Exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the United States are now required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission when offering tokens the agency regards as securities.

The SEC issued a statement Wednesday that exchanges will be held to federal securities laws regardless of how the cryptocurrency community defines a particular asset. For example, a “utility” token isn’t free from federal laws just because its founders say it doesn’t classify as a security.

It didn’t take long for speculators to sniff out the SEC statement and begin selling their digital currencies. Although the selloff wasn’t uncharacteristic of a market that is weary of government intervention, Ripple’s Brad Garlinghouse said Thursday’s drop was a huge overreaction by the market.

“More My POV on the SEC statement today – the market is having an outsized reaction. Exchanges ultimately have three options ahead of them: de-list ICOs, register, or close. Certainly big implications for ETH given ERC20 tokens,” Garlinghouse said, according to CCN.

Tokyo’s Bitcoin Whale Unloads

Nobuaki Kobayashi has become a name known all too well by the cryptocurrency world. The so-called bitcoin whale has sold about $400 million worth of bitcoin and bitcoin cash in the last six months as part of a multi-billion-dollar iquidation of Mt Gox. According to Bloomberg, the whale still has another $1.9 billion to liquidate.

Investors would remember Mt Gox as the world’s largest bitcoin exchange until 2014, when it filed for bankruptcy protection following a $500 million heist.

Kobayashi is looking to offload bitcoin at the highest price possible, according to people familiar with his strategy. Since September, the bitcoin sales price has averaged $10,105, according to Mt Gox’s website.

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