LONDON, June 13 (Reuters) – Bitcoin crashed Monday after US crypto-currency giant Celsius Network suspended withdrawals and transfers citing “extreme” conditions, in the latest sign of a slowdown in the financial markets hitting the cryptosphere.
Celsius’ move caused a slowdown in all cryptocurrencies, with prices falling below $ 1 trillion on Monday for the first time since January 2021, down by a 12% drop in the largest bitcoin token.
Following Celsius’ announcement, bitcoin has hit an 18-month decline in the $ 23,300. Ether token No.2 dropped by 18% to $ 1,176, the lowest since January 2021.
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Crypto markets have been declining over the past few weeks as rising interest rates and inflation encourage investors to discard risky assets in all financial markets.
Markets extended sales on Monday following US inflation data on Friday, which showed the worst price hikes since 1981, prompting investors to raise their bets on the rise of the Federal Reserve.
Cryptocurrencies were also rocked by the fall of terraUSD and luna tokens in May.
Bitcoin, which has grown in 2020 and 2021, has dropped by almost 50% so far this year.
“It ‘s still uncomfortable, and there is a risk of crypto-infection in general,” said Joseph Edwards, chief financial officer at fund management company Solrise Finance.
Celsius offers interest-bearing products to customers who invest in cryptocurrensets instead. Then we borrow cryptocurrencies to get a loan.
Celsius said on its website on Monday that customers who transfer their crypto to their site could earn an annual profit of up to 18.6%.
The website urges customers to “Earn higher money. Borrow less.”
In a blog post, the company said it had stopped the withdrawal of frozen funds, as well as transfers between accounts, “in order to consolidate funds and operations while taking steps to preserve and protect assets.”
“We are taking this step today to put Celsius in a better position to honor, over time, its withdrawal obligations,” said a New Jersey-based company.
Celsius’s Token, where crypto lenders and lenders on its platform can earn interest or pay interest, has dropped by about 97% in the last 12 months, from $ 7 to 20 cents, based on CoinGecko data.
Celsius chief executive Alex Mashinsky and Celsius did not immediately respond to Reuters’s comment requests.
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The growing interest in crypto lending has caused regulators to worry, especially in the United States, who are concerned about investor protection and systemic risks arising from unregulated lending products.
Celsius and crypto companies that provide services such as banks are “in the gray” of the regulations, Matthew Nyman told CMS law firm. “They are not subject to any specific law that requires disclosure” of their property.
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Celsius increased its $ 750 million investment last year to investors, including Canada’s second largest pension fund Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec. Celsius was estimated at $ 3.25 billion at the time.
As of May 17, Celsius had $ 11.8 billion in assets, its website said, had halved by more than half since October, and had processed $ 8.2 billion in loans.
Mashinsky, the CEO, was quoted in October last year as saying that Celsius owns more than $ 25 billion in assets.
Competitive crypto lender Nexo said on Monday he had promised to buy the remaining Celsius assets.
“We contacted Celsius on Sunday morning to discuss the acquisition of the mortgage loan portfolio. So far, Celsius has chosen not to participate,” said Nexo founder Antoni Trenchev.
Reported by Tom Wilson and Elizabeth Howcroft in London; additional reports of Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru and Alun John in Hong Kong; Edited by Bradley Perrett and Jane Merriman.