Bitcoin is bumping around near the lowest prices recorded since November, as government watchdogs around the world more closely scrutinize the crypto sector. The market value of all digital tokens, which includes bitcoin as well as ethereum, ripple, stellar, and hundreds of other variations, has declined by more than $500 billion since its peak in January, to about $257 billion, according to Coinmarketcap.com.
Regulators are no longer taking a hands-off approach to digital assets: Three crypto exchanges in Seoul were reportedly raided last month, while European banking officials said digital assets as they exist now are “no better than gambling in a casino.” China widened its crackdown this year, while the US Securities and Exchange Commission halted an allegedly fraudulent initial coin offering and arrested two people this month.
Big technology platforms, and the advertisers who fund them, have also distanced themselves from crypto. Twitter recently became the latest platform to restrict such advertising, following Google and Facebook. Email marketing service MailChimp has also put a ban in place.
Perhaps just as damning for bitcoin is that public excitement appears to be waning. Google searches for “bitcoin price” peaked in December, around the time of its highest valuation, and the search term’s popularity is now about 20% of what it was then.
This month, bitcoin trading volumes across major exchanges fell back to levels last seen in November, according to Bitcoinity.org data. Of course, bitcoin’s obituary has been written before—and was eventually followed by a meteoric rally.