Bitcoin crashes to below $50,000 in sudden, sharp fall

Bitcoin's (BTC-USD) price crashed on Tuesday afternoon, falling below the $50,000 (£36,152) mark, on the same day that El Salvador began accepting the crypto as legal tender.

To mark the occasion, Twitter and Reddit users pledged to buy $30 worth of BTC on 7 September, dubbed 'bitcoin day'.

Some Reddit users even suggested that if all 3,316,862 community members were to buy $30 of bitcoin each on Thursday, $99,505,860 would be added to the cryptocurrency.

But bitcoin was down almost 10%, trading at $47,142. This has wiped hundreds of billions from the overall market, which was worth more than $2.35tn at the start of the day.

An employee wears a cap with the Bitcoin symbol at a barber shop in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. Photo: Salvador Melendez/AP
An employee wears a cap with the Bitcoin symbol at a barber shop in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. Photo: Salvador Melendez/AP

"The euphoria surrounding El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin has well and truly fizzled out with the losses accelerating as the day wore on," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

"This is after all a big gamble for the country’s payment system given that making transactions in the currency when the price is so volatile is highly risky. There is also concern that by becoming known as a Bitcoin haven, the country could attract the wrong kind of investment from criminal groups seeking anonymity."

She added that it was also likely that "a pump and dump scenario is partly playing out after there were calls on social media forums for fans to buy tranches of bitcoin to celebrate the bitcoin law in El Salvador. Some speculators cashing in on the previous sharp gain may have sparked further falls."

In recent times, bitcoin, which went as high as $63,000 in April, has been hit by concerns over the environmental impact of mining it, as well as regulatory crackdowns in countries including China and the UK.

It had only just managed to gain some momentum, going as high as $52,853 early Tuesday morning, before crashing by the evening.

"Bitcoin is hammered day but if you look at the price action more closely you can see that traders have actually bought the dip as the price has bounced near its 50-day simple moving average," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade, told Yahoo Finance UK. 

Bitcoin's price took a beating on Tuesday afternoon. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK
Bitcoin's price took a beating on Tuesday afternoon. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

"In other words, today, we have tested the early 40Ks price level and it seems like that this could be last big fires sale opportunity we may have this year."

Meanwhile, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continues to issue warnings to consumers about the risks of buying cryptocurrencies, because they are highly volatile and pose a high risk of consumer harm. 

Earlier this week it sent out a warning against buying into social media influencer ads promoting cryptoassets.