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Bitcoin bounces back, surges to record high

Aug 09,2017
The saga of the bitcoin split has taken an unlikely turn this week as the world’s top cryptocurrency has recovered from a brief drop in value to reach a record high while the price of its derivative bitcoin cash has tanked.

On Tuesday, a week after a long-running dispute in the bitcoin community led the currency to split into two, the price of bitcoin surged to $3,456.24 during midday trading, according to Coin Market Cap, a provider of data on cryptocurrencies.

Earlier on Monday, Coordinated Universal Time, bitcoin ended trading at $3,378.94, a record-high closing price since the birth of the digital currency five years ago.

Before the bitcoin split, known in the industry as the SegWit activation, on Aug. 1, many analysts speculated that the chaos created in the market might deal a blow to bitcoin’s value, with some projecting that fewer people would invest in cryptocurrencies.

In fact, the price of bitcoin did experience a dip, though it was short-lived and not as dramatic as expected. Its price went from around $2,900 on the day of the split to as low as $2,668 the next day.

But since then, bitcoin has been on a roll, maintaining a rate above $3,000 since Aug. 5 in defiance of naysayers. One of the reasons it’s managed to stay afloat: about 30,000 vendors and retailers across the world accept bitcoin as a means of payment.

The price of bitcoin’s spin-off, bitcoin cash, on the other hand, has fallen precipitously after briefly reaching a peak of $756.93 the day after the split. On Monday, it closed at $319.69. Although bitcoin cash was briefly ranked third among digital currencies in terms of market capitalization, it now stands at fourth after bitcoin, ethereum and ripple.

Bithumb, Korea’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform, began allowing bitcoin cash exchange on Saturday, and though the currency was popular on opening day, its trade volume has been less than moderate afterward. In the 24 hours between 4 p.m. Monday and 4 p.m. Tuesday, ethereum topped the Korean platform’s trade volume with near $198 million. Bitcoin was next with $134 million, while bitcoin cash exchange stood at a mere $25 million.

Bithumb is the largest ethereum exchange in the world, according to Coin Market Cap, and about 20 percent of global trade of ethereum takes place in Korea.

“The overall prices of digital currencies across the market seem to be on an upward trend lately,” a local cryptocurrency trader said. “These currencies [bitcoin and ethereum] are volatile, but I think for now, they have the potential to rise further as more people will jump on the bandwagon due to the ongoing rally.”


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]


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