Bitcoin fell as much as 11 percent to as low as $13,500 as of 2:02 p.m. in New York, erasing modest gains after the South Korean release, composite Bloomberg pricing shows. It’s now down 30 percent from the record $19,511 it reached on Dec. 18.
Bitcoin’s plunge comes after futures contracts started trading on CME Group’s exchange, giving investors new ways to bet on the digital coin’s price moves. The news from South Korea unnerved traders because the country has been ground zero for a global surge in interest in bitcoin as its rally this year reached 1,600 percent, prompting the nation’s prime minister to worry over the impact on Korean youth.
While there’s no indication Asia’s No. 4 economy will shutter exchanges that have accounted by some measures for more than a fifth of global trading, the news is a warning as regulators express concerns about private digital currencies. South Korea will require real-name cryptocurrency transactions and impose a ban on the offering of virtual accounts by banks to crypto-exchanges, according to a statement from the Office for Government Policy Coordination.