Bitcoin slumps below $16,000, triggering a freeze of futures trading

Just days after crossing the $US17,000 mark, bitcoin briefly slumped below $US16,000 per coin on Wednesday.

The spike in volatility caused futures contracts to temporarily cease trading on Cboe Global Markets’ exchange, which launched bitcoin futures on Sunday. The new product allows bitcoin bears to actively bet against the cryptocurrency.

Before Wednesday, the launch of futures trading had given bitcoin yet another boost, with the cryptocurrency climbing 6% since Sunday.

Bitcoin still has a stranglehold on the cryptocurrency market, with a total capitalisation of $US274.6 billion. Ethereum, it’s closest competitor, has a market cap of $US65.86 billion.

Other smaller coins have gotten a boost from bitcoin’s surge in popularity. Ripple, the fourth largest cryptocurrency, which is designed for bank transfers, has seen its value rise 49% over the past 24 hours and passed litecoin to take fourth place in cryptocurrency market cap.

Bitcoin is down about 4.78% on Wednesday, near $US16,450. It’s up 1,505% this year.

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