Bitcoin sell-off picks up pace as 'horror show' continues

Bitcoin plunged towards $8,000 on Friday as the bubble which had inflated the cryptocurrency's price to nearly $20,000 last year continued its deflation.

Bitcoin was trading 7% lower at $8,486 (around £6,000), according to Coindesk data, a dramatic fall from its December highs of nearly $20,000 (£14,465).

Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex, described the decline as a "horror show", and pointed to reports that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission is investigating whether market manipulation was at play in the cryptocurrency's rise.

"The cryptocurrency has had a horror show week already, dragged lower by regulation changes in South Korea and news that Facebook is banning adverts for the product on its site.

"Already feeling delicate, then, Bitcoin was dealt another major blow this Friday, plunging 10.5% to $8,000 following reports that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission is investigating the cryptocurrency's ludicrous end of 2017 rise for signs of market manipulation," he said.

Along with South Korea, regulators in China, Russia and now India have expressed concern about Bitcoin.

Germany's Bundesbank has also called for global regulation of Bitcoin, while France's finance minister wants tougher rules for cryptocurrencies.

However, despite its dramatic collapse, Bitcoin remains significantly higher than its $900 position recorded in January 2017.

Earlier this month US billionaire Warren Buffett ruled out a foray into cryptocurrencies, warning that the Bitcoin boom will "come to a bad ending".

The chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway has joined the chorus of voices criticising the digital currency.

His comments came just a day after JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said he regretted calling Bitcoin a "fraud".