Investing.com - Bitcoin held mostly steady on Friday but was on track for a weekly decline of almost 20% as increasing scrutiny from regulators around the world fueled concerns ranging from investor losses to strains on power systems.
The largest cryptocurrency by market cap managed to take a pause from sharp declines caused by movements in South Korea whose justice minister has been upping the pressure to impose an eventual ban on local exchanges for digital currencies.
Despite the scare, exacerbated by media outlets that went so far as to erroneously claim that South Korea had already implemented the ban, investors may find relief in the fact that, once a bill is drafted, any legislation for an outright ban of virtual coin trading would require a majority vote of the total 297 members of the National Assembly, a process that could take months or even year.
Regardless, Chinese officials calling for the closure of mining facilities have also hit Bitcoin but reports suggested that firms are considering a move to Canada to avoid a potential crackdown.
Also of note, U.S. scrutiny appeared set to increase as Bloomberg reported that Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo are set to testify to the Senate Banking Committee on risks tied to bitcoin and its counterparts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. According to the report, the committee intends to hold a hearing in early February.
All was not bleak in the cryptocurrency world however as Ripple continued to rally on Friday after the news that Moneygram (NASDAQ:MGI) will partner with the firm to test the startup's XRP token for international payments.
However, Friday’s gains of around 20% still left investors in Ripple, currently the third largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $117.7 billion, with a bad taste in their mouth as XRP is still sporting weekly losses of nearly 40%.
Ethereum, back in second place amid altcoins after Ripple’s selloff, was faring far better than its two closest rivals with weekly gains of nearly 17%. Ethereum has benefitted amid signs of growing demand for its platform as it nears its ‘Casper’ software update which aims to improve security and scalability on the network.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin Cash -the result of the “fork” from the world’s largest digital currency last year in a move that was designed to be able to process transactions more quickly at a lower cost- seemed relatively unfazed by the wild ride in cryptocurrencies this week. Despite tumbling nearly 15% on Thursday’s worry over a possible clampdown in South Korea, the Bitcoin offshoot recovered around 2% on Friday, bringing its weekly gains to just under 3%.
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