Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies are falling substantially on Thursday after India announced a crackdown on their trading and circulation.
The largest cryptocurrency, bitcoin, dropped over 12 percent below $9,000, the lowest level seen since November.
The Indian Finance Ministry on Thursday made bitcoin illegal and announced an upcoming ban. “The government does not consider cryptocurrencies as legal tender or coin and (will) take all measures to eliminate the use of crypto assets,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. India is one of the largest bitcoin markets, with a 10 percent share. Cryptocurrencies have not been regulated there, but the government started a de-facto crackdown on cryptos last December. Users have been facing troubles with deposits and withdrawals from bank accounts linked to digital money, and the Indian Income Tax Department raided bitcoin exchanges across the country, seeking to identify cryptocurrency traders. “After today’s announcement, people are getting scared,” said Anshul Vashist, Delhi-based support manager at the cryptocurrency exchange Coinsecure, as quoted by Bloomberg.
“We have seen some dumping of bitcoins.” Coinsecure has a volume of about 100 coins a day, he said. Bitcoin has now fallen more than 55 percent from the record value of $20,000 seen in December 2017. January was the worst month for the cryptocurrency since 2015. Ethereum, ripple, bitcoin cash, cardano, and other leading digital currencies plunged even more than bitcoin, losing as much as 20 percent of their value.