On December 7, the Bitcoin price achieved a new yearly low, as the valuation of the crypto market fell by $16 billion within a 24-hour span.

Bitcoin Price Struggles to Recover from New Yearly Low

Bitcoin (BTC) fell to as low as $3,210 on fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchanges like Bitstamp and Coinbase, which led other major cryptocurrencies and low market cap digital assets to fall by around 15 to 20 percent against the U.S. dollar.

bitcoin price

Since then, the Bitcoin price has rebounded from $3,210 to $3,455, by more than seven percent within merely 12 hours.

However, traders are cautious in regards to the short-term price trend of the dominant cryptocurrency given the intensity of its recent fall and the volatility the market has shown throughout the past two weeks.

Factors and Trends

Positive developments continue to surround the cryptocurrency market as large financial institutions in the likes of Nasdaq and Fidelity make big bets on emerging infrastructure providers like ErisX, a strictly regulated cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. market.

Yet, the prices of major cryptocurrencies are falling at a rapid rate, in most cases with low volume, suggesting that many assets are free-falling without high sell pressure.

As technical analyst DonAlt said, Bitcoin still remains below an important resistance level at $3,700, and the failure to break out of it could result in the asset remaining in a low price range between $3,000 and $3,500.

The analyst explained:

“Decent day with quite a big bounce across the board. That said BTC is still below resistance. If BTC wants to turn bullish on larger time frames I’d really wanna see it manage to reclaim the lowest zone on the chart ($3,740).”

In a bear market, especially in crypto, the prices of major cryptocurrencies tend to drop by large margins, unaffected by developments in the sector. For instance, several reports claimed earlier this week that the delay of the Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) of VanEck by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) caused the price of BTC to drop substantially.

However, the delay of the VanEck ETF to February was expected by many investors in the traditional financial market because the SEC does not have any motive to go out of its way to prematurely approve an ETF prior to its final deadline.

Even if a Bitcoin ETF was to be approved or rejected, the event would likely have minimal impact on the current state of the market, because the market is so overwhelmed.

For Bitcoin to recover, the market has to start demonstrating exhaustion and extreme fatigue from the steep sell-off. Historically, in 2010, 2012, and 2015, BTC dropped by around 85 percent, underwent a several-month-long consolidation and accumulation phase, before engaging in a proper recovery.

2019

The bear market of the cryptocurrency market will likely extend to 2019, and regardless of major developments that lay ahead including the VanEck Bitcoin ETF decision in February and the scheduled launch of the Bakkt futures market in January, the market will only begin to recover when bears and sellers lose momentum and control over the market.

A suspected scam which threatens to blow up buildings unless recipients pay a Bitcoin (BTC) ransom caught the attention of the United States’ government Dec. 13.

The scam, which centers on anonymous emails demanding payment of $20,000 in Bitcoin or face a “mercenary” detonating a device in “your building,” has appeared throughout the world.

Now, the U.S. National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) opted to release dedicated advice to victims, advising the only action necessary on receipt of an email was to inform the FBI.

The NCCIC is “aware of a worldwide email campaign targeting businesses and organizations with bomb threats,” it said.

“The emails claim that a device will detonate unless a ransom in Bitcoin is paid.”

Prior to the government acknowledgment, media sources had reported on the scheme, including cybersecurity publication and research outlet Krebs On Security, which published the full text of the email.

“My mercenary keeps the building under the control. If he notices any unusual behavior or emergency he will blow up the bomb,” an excerpt reads.

“I can withdraw my mercenary if you pay. You pay me 20.000 $ in Bitcoin and the bomb will not explode, but don’t try to cheat -I warrant you that I will withdraw my mercenary only after 3 confirmations in blockchain network.”

Multiple campaigns continue to target unwitting internet users both within and outside the cryptocurrency community.

As Cointelegraph reported, 2018 has seen an almost 500 percent rise in the number of flagged hacking schemes known as “cryptojacking” — the process by which a device is commandeered to mine or steal cryptocurrency.

Phishing scams — hackers masquerading as known entities to trick users into transferring coins to a fake address — have spread from emails to social media platforms such as Twitter en masse this year.

Crypto exchange Binance has added Circle’s USD-pegged stablecoin USD Coin as a quote asset for several new trading pairs in its combined Stablecoin Market (USDⓈ). The exchange has announced this in an official post published Dec. 14.

USD Coin (USDC), first announced by Goldman Sachs-backed Circle this May, and released in September, is one of a host of new stablecoins notionally pegged 1:1 to a major fiat currency.

This November, Binance, currently the world’s largest crypto exchange by daily trade volume, had rebranded its Tether (USDT) Market as the combined USDⓈ market to allow for the support of more trading pairs with different stablecoins offered as a base pair.

Today’s latest development will add six new trading pairs with USDC as a quote asset: native exchange token Binance Coin (BNB/USDC), Bitcoin (BTC/USDC), Ethereum (ETH/USDC), Ripple (XRP/USDC), EOS (EOS/USDC) and Stellar (XLM/USDC). In addition, Binance is also adding a USDC trading pair with fellow stablecoin Tether.

According to the announcement, the exchange will replace and delist its former USDC/BNB and USDC/BTC trading pairs, which had just been launched mid-November.

Just ahead of Binance, major United States’ cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase had made USDC the first stablecoin available for trade on its platform in October.

With the proliferating issuance of fiat-backed stablecoins, major exchanges have stepped in to list the new coins: both OKEx and Huobi recently opted to list four USD stablecoins at once.

Earlier this week, Binance launched a collection of educational content comprising almost 500 articles in order to provide “unbiased” information about crypto and blockchain, as part of its Binance Academy initiative, which launched this summer.

According to CoinMarketCap, the exchange has seen $464,404,519 in trades over the 24 hours before press time.

Friday, Dec. 14 — Bitcoin Cash (BCH) led fresh losses across cryptocurrency markets as investors in the top twenty assets by market cap shouldered new lows.

Market visualization

Market visualization from Coin360

Data from Cointelegraph’s own price index, Coin360 and Coinmarketcap painted a gloomy picture at press time Friday, with Bitcoin (BTC) dropping about 3.5 percent in 24 hours.

Having staved off a move below last week’s current “bottom” around $3220, BTC/USD has failed to find support much higher, now circling $3300 to cap almost 50 percent monthly losses.

 Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Worries over the fate of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) gaining United States’ regulators’ approval in February have combined with uncertainty over when the 2018 bear could end to limit the largest cryptocurrency’s prospects for gains in the short term.

Many still remain steadfast believers in a Bitcoin U-turn, the most recent of which was ratings agency Weiss, which this week said BTC represented one of the “best buying opportunities” of the year at current prices.

In altcoin markets, BCH continued what had become a common sight for day traders this week, losing more against USD than any other asset in the top twenty.

A hashrate war with rival faction Bitcoin SV (BSV) has continued since the pair split from the BCH chain in a contentious hard fork Nov. 15.

Since then, BSV has made a habit of trading inverse to BTC, gaining when the majority of assets fall and vice versa.

Friday revealed BCH as the major loser, however, shedding market cap to fall below the USD price of Ethereum (ETH) for the first time on a 13.3 percent daily drop.

Just $125 million now separates the market cap of BCH and BSV.

Bitcoin Cash 7-day price chart

Bitcoin Cash 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Cash Price Index

ETH itself meanwhile failed to capitalize on updates about its Constantinople hard fork which will bring various technological advances to the network.

At press time, ETH/USD was trailing at around $86, its lowest level since May 2017.

Ethereum 7-day price chart

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

Other major altcoins saw losses between 1 percent and 9 percent, BSV coming in second behind BCH’s performance.

Digital asset manager Bitwise has launched two new beta funds for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), according to a press release Dec. 5.

The launch of the new products –– both pitched as an opportunity for investors to “capitalize” on the bear market –– aims to provide a “low-cost” and “liquid” means of capturing returns on both high-profile assets, which are currently trading 81 and 92 percent respectively below their all-time highs.

Bitwise CEO Hunter Horsley issued a statement accompanying the launch of the new funds, suggesting that investors now have “a unique opportunity to enter the market at prices many thought we’d never see again.” He continued:

“Though an ETF has not yet been approved, investors and advisors like the fund format because it’s professionally managed and simplifies access to best-in-class custody, trading, reporting, and tax preparation, and allows for the safe capture of events like hard forks and airdrops.”

As per the press release, the funds will not charge premiums, exit fees, impose lockups, nor charge extra expenses “outside the stated management fee.” Investors’ holdings will reportedly be kept in cold storage wallets held by an unnamed “institutional third-party custodian,” and Bitwise says it will provide clients with K-1 tax documents each year.

Matt Hougan, global head of research for Bitwise, has contextualized the launch of the new funds as being driven by “significant inbound demand” spurred by part “positive developments on the horizon.” These, he outlined, include “the forthcoming “launch of the Bakkt bitcoin futures exchange from ICE, the launch of Fidelity Digital Assets, and the continued movement of institutional investors like Yale University and Stanford University into the crypto space.”

As reported this summer, Bitwise has also filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC) to launch a regulated multi-cryptocurrency exchange-traded fund (ETF), which has been designed to include ten cryptocurrencies. If approved, the ETF would track the Bitwise HOLD 10 Private Index Fund that was founded last November.

On December 4, seven EU countries led by Malta and France have established a group called the “Mediterranean seven” to encourage and promote the usage of blockchain technology.

In the months to come, the seven countries that include France, Italy, Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain, will work to implement the blockchain in education, transport, mobility, shipping, Land Registry, customers, company registry, and healthcare.

The declaration obtained by FT read:

“This can result not only in the enhancement of e-government services but also increased transparency and reduced administrative burdens, better customs collection and better access to public information.”

Will This Affect Crypto in Any Way?

Malta, the home of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has mostly been forward-thinking and open-minded in approaching digital asset and blockchain regulation.

Its flexible and practical regulatory frameworks have led major cryptocurrency-related businesses to migrate to the region throughout the past 11 months.

The involvement of Malta in the initiative could result in a positive effect on the European cryptocurrency sector as a whole, as it indirectly demonstrates the approval of the other six countries in the declaration of Malta’s efforts in facilitating the growth of the local cryptocurrency market.

The formation of the Mediterranean seven follows the call of the G20, a forum of government officials that represent 20 of the largest economies in the world, to monitor and regulate cryptocurrencies as an asset class and the market surrounding it.

Malta’s innovation minister Silvio Schembri, who has played a vital role in transforming Malta to the “Blockchain Island,” said:

“Malta is the first world legislator to offer a regulatory environment for all blockchain technology. We are not only interested in cryptocurrencies.”

The blockchain is the base technology of cryptocurrencies but open blockchain protocols cannot be run without incentive systems, which are cryptocurrencies. The two cannot operate without one another and if a blockchain network operates without a native asset, it can only do so if its structure is centralized.

As the group explores the potential of the blockchain and begins integrating it into various areas of the European economy, native digital assets could naturally come around and consequently, the European nations could integrate more practical regulatory frameworks pertaining to the asset class.

Already, France has approved an initial coin offering (ICO) regulation in September to become Europe’s first ICO hub.

At the time, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the government hopes the newly established legal framework for ICOs will attract investors from all around the world.

Europe’s Struggle

Despite the efforts of several European nations like the U.K. and Malta, Europe has struggled to compete against the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Switzerland for several years.

Most of the global market’s cryptocurrency exchange volume is heavily concentrated in three countries, the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, and the majority of blockchain-related businesses have relocated to Japan and Singapore in the past year.

Apart from Malta and Switzerland, most of the Europe’s regional cryptocurrency markets remain significantly weak when compared to Asia and the U.S.

The Mediterranean seven could reignite the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem of Europe, if the regulators begin to provide a friendly environment for startups.

November will be a month to remember for bitcoin investors.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency ended November down 37 percent, its worst drop since April 2011 when the cryptocurrency fell about 39 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

Bitcoin hit a low of $3,878.66 Friday after starting November above the $6,300 mark. The digital currency is now down more than 70 percent since the start of 2018 and 80 percent from its all-time high hit late last year.

The market capitalization of all major cryptocurrencies took a $70 billion hit for the month, according to CoinMarketCap.com. XRP, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, dropped 18 percent in November while ether fell 43 percent in the same time period.

For bitcoin, this month’s price performance was a stark turnaround from its relatively stable October. The cryptocurrency traded near $6,400 without much volatility as global markets fell.

Michael Moro, CEO of Genesis Global Trading, said “it didn’t take much for the price to break down” after bitcoin failed to stay above the key support level of $5,850.

“It’s unclear if this is a ‘bottom’ or a brief period of consolidation before next move down, but buyers are still maintaining some cash on the sidelines in case it does go lower,” Moro said.

There was a spike in short interest in bitcoin as momentum traders piled on, he said. But still, Moro said Genesis is seeing a decent level of buy-side interest at the $4,000 level.

The CEO also pointed to a “messy” fork on the bitcoin cash network. That digital currency split into two versions: “Bitcoin ABC” or “Bitcoin SV,” short for “Satoshi’s Vision” in mid-November.

“While the split occurred on a different blockchain, there were still spill-over effects on other cryptos, including bitcoin,” Moro said.

Still, there were some bright spots for crypto bulls this month.

Digital currencies got the backing of a key figurehead on Wall Street — Jeff Sprecher, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and CEO of its parent company ICE. Despite headlines of cryptocurrencies flopping, Sprecher said they have a future in regulated markets.

The Intercontinental Exchange is backing a version of bitcoin futures through a start-up called Bakkt that goes live in January. Nasdaq and VanEck also confirmed they are planning to launch multiple cryptocurrency products, which include bitcoin futures in the first quarter of next year.

Regulators stepped up enforcement of initial coin offerings in November.

The Securities Exchange Commission announced its first civil penalties against founders who did not register new coin offerings, adding to its crackdown aimed at abuses and outright fraud in the growing digital industry. This week, the agency settled with pro boxer Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled, who the SEC said pumped up initial coin offerings without telling investors they were getting paid a promotional fee.

After siding with the bull on Tuesday and making its way to the CoinMarketCap’s top-10 list, Bitcoin SV [BSV] has fallen prey to the bear once again. After having grown 80% in the past seven days, on Wednesday, BSV started trading after falling 27% and had slipped to the ninth position.

On the other hand, the market that was covered in red on Tuesday, appears to be bullish on Wednesday. At the time of writing, BSV was trading at $92.87, after going down over 9% over the past 24 hours.

Source: CoinMarketGap

Source: CoinMarketGap

According to the CoinMarketCap, the coin was trading at $83.99, with a 24-hour trade volume of $2.62 billion. The maximum trading volume was registered by Upbit, a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, on the BSV/KRW trading pair. The second and third positions were held by Binance in the BCHSV/USDT and BCHSV/BTC trading pairs respectively.

Upbit registered a 24-hour trade volume of $79 million, while Binance registered a 24-hour trading volume of $67 million and $52 million on the BCHSV/USDT and BCHSV/BTC pairs respectively. Binance was followed by Bithumb, Coinsuper, and Gate.io.

The cryptocurrency had gained the brief momentum after Dr. Craig Wright, the Chief Scientist at nChain, aka Faketoshi, tweeted:

“On Friday, at Coingeek week, I will be announcing a game changing new tech we have for SV. Bitcoin as it was originally intended And, only SV”.

Calvin Ayre, the founder of Ayre group and a key player in the crypto market, had earlier stated that BSV’s return was in the form of an “original Bitcoin” and the future of BSV.

He said that BSV has better technology and stated:

“It is a superior technology, head and shoulders above any other chain, and this has been proven when we mined a 64 MB block on the BSV chain last week. No other crypto platform is even close to scaling this much, and this is only the beginning of BSV’s scaling road map.”

Between 600,000 and 800,000 bitcoin miners have shut down since mid-November amid declines in price and hashrate across the network, according to the third-largest mining pool.

In an interview with CoinDesk, Mao Shixing, founder of F2pool, said his firm’s estimate takes into account the total network hashrate drop and the average hash power of older mining machines that are having a hard time generating profits.

According to data from blockchain.info, the bitcoin network’s entire hashrate, which captures the aggregated computing power on the world’s first blockchain, has dropped from around 47 million tera hashes per second (TH/s) on Nov. 10 to 41 million on Nov. 24 – an almost 13 percent decline.

Mao explained most miners that may have halted operations are likely those using older models, such as the Antminer T9+ made by Bitmain and AvalonMiner 741 by Canaan Creative. These miners have an average hash power of around 10 TH/s and are estimated to be losing money right now, according to F2pool’s miner revenue index.

In fact, the bitcoin hashrate on F2pool, which now accounts for about 11.4 percent of the total network, has also seen a decline of over 10 percent in recent weeks, Mao said.

“It’s hard to calculate a precise number of miners connected to us that had unplugged. But we saw over tens of thousands of them [shut down] in the past several days based on conversations we had with larger farms that we are in regular contact with,” he said, adding:

“This is what’s happening among miners in China.”

On Nov. 20, Mao shared via his Weibo social media account a photo of a man packing computer gear into boxes, with the caption “shutting down is not an option, now have to sell by the kilos.”

The post was widely taken to mean even mining equipment of recent vintage was being sold off by the kilogram in China, but Mao told CoinDesk he was half-kidding when he wrote it, explaining:

“Those miners being sold by the kilos are even older and obsolete models that aren’t usable anymore. So people are selling to recycle [them] like copper instead of for further mining purposes.”

Winter Is Coming

Stepping back, Mao said there are multiple factors that contributed to the shakeout among miners, including the recent market decline that followed the bitcoin cash hard fork on Nov. 15; an increase in electricity costs in China; and the fact that Chinese manufacturers are still racing to upgrade their products, making older machines increasingly uncompetitive.

“All these factors are overlapping right now which led to this recent phenomenon,” Mao said.

As the winter comes in China, hydropower plants are experiencing a dry season when electricity costs have doubled from what they would have been in the summer when water was abundant.

During the summer, Mao said, electricity costs in China’s mountainous Southwestern region, where lots of mining farms reside, could go below 0.2 yuan, or $0.029, per 1 KW/h. But at this time of the year, that is going up to above 0.3 yuan ($0.043).

While other fossil fuel power stations, for instance in China’s Xinjiang province, may generate electricity at a steadier rate, the overall costs are still at least about 0.28 yuan ($0.04) per 1KW/h, Mao said.

As bitcoin’s price recently tanked to a 13-month low below $4,000, mining farms that have been using machines made in 2016 and 2017 with lower productivity just can’t break even, Mao added.

To be sure, the fact that mining farms have unplugged does not necessarily mean they are out of the game completely.

“Bitcoin mining is always a dynamically adjusted process,” Mao said, meaning when the hashrate drops, so does the mining difficulty. The latest data shows the bitcoin mining difficulty has already declined slightly by 5 percent within the past a few days.

This dynamically adjusted process could give those who haven’t thrown in the towel an incentive to stick around, Mao said, concluding:

“The change of bitcoin’s mining difficulty normally has a lag of about 14 days [following hashrate change]. After this wave of shutdowns, those players who opted to stay in may have a better life.”

Honeysuckle White is giving family and friends gathering for Thanksgiving dinner this year the opportunity to talk turkey with a traceable blockchain code on more than 200,000 turkeys sold through 3,500 retailers around the U.S. The traceable turkeys, a limited supply of which is also available through internet retailer Amazon, offer consumers a high-tech connection to the farm where the centerpiece of the meal began its journey to the table.

The blockchain, which Honeysuckle White developed using Hyperledger’s Sawtooth platform, is intended to establish a “proven and trusted environment to build a transparent food chain, integrating farmers and producers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers,” according to a company release.

With more than 70 independent farms participating in Honeysuckle’s traceable turkey program, Cargill, the Minnesota-based agricultural giant owner of Honeysuckle, hopes to establish a stronger connection with consumers. While incorporating a blockchain element to the supply-and-distribution chain means the development of a data-rich environment, Cargill’s current emphasis in using the technology centers on storytelling.

Putting turkeys on the blockchain marks a deeper dive into data development for companies utilizing the technology. “Most people don’t know what we mean by it,” Deb Bauler, CIO of Cargill’s Protein and Salt Division, told Bitcoin Magazine. Rather than maintain a focus solely on data, utilization of the blockchain also opens an opportunity around a brand’s narrative.

Through a text or entering the on-package code at the Honeysuckle White site, consumers trace their turkey to its specific family farm, including the state and county of the farms, and they can also view the history and see photos of the family farm. The code also includes messages from the farmers.

Down the road, the Honeysuckle blockchain could include an Internet of Things element. This could include things such as the temperature of the truck transporting the turkeys to retail outlets.

“It’s a unique value statement,” Bauler said.

Honeysuckle, based in Wichita, Kansas, began implementing its traceable turkey program last year with a pilot that included only four farms and 60,000 birds available for the holiday season. With the successful pilot, Honeysuckle’s expansion of the program addresses consumer demand for food source transparency. Kassie Long, Honeysuckle White’s brand manager, says the company’s promotion of the product includes social media and other forms of advertising.

Thanksgiving turkey buying typically begins on the first weekend in November. As the season progresses and Honeysuckle garners retailer and consumer feedback, the company gains the ability to perform a “robust analysis” of the program on a wider scale, Long says. Included here are things like taking note of the development and strengthening of brand loyalty through repeat customers.

Still, transparency in food choice is an aspect of consumer demand familiar to Honeysuckle. According to a company release, a November 2017 survey reported 88 percent of consumers “agree that brands need to be transparent in their food production.” According to the same survey, 80 percent of consumers agree “that at Thanksgiving, it is important for their turkey to be raised by a family farmer.”

For consumers, buying blockchain-tracked food seemingly provides a kind of psychological security around food safety issues. For Honeysuckle and other traceable food providers, the security triggers a stronger bottom line through increased sales. According to a reported 2015 study conducted with consumers in South Korea, traceable information translates to more sales and increased brand and product trust.

The Food Safety Magazine story cites the study’s co-author, Rajiv Kishore, as noting that when “the customer believes regulatory authorities are ensuring accurate production information, he or she is more likely to buy food that is tracked using traceability information, and even less likely to actual use the food traceability information.”

The crux of the observation jives with the consumer research conducted by the Honeysuckle team. That is, consumers’ rising awareness around food safety weighs favorably in their buying decision. However, customers also added the caveat that they weren’t necessarily inclined to act on blockchain tracking, Long said.

Darrell Fraser, one of the original pilot participants in the Honeysuckle White traceable turkey program, says the care involved in producing more than five flocks of turkeys each year remains the same. For him, adding the blockchain element to his yields has largely translated into pursuing a kind of vanity grocery shopping. The Texas-based farmer, who has raised turkey flocks for nearly 25 years, says he has yet to find a turkey in the grocery store with roots back to his farm.

“I’ve looked and looked and still haven’t found one,” he says.