Bitcoin Prices Climb Back Above $15,000 Mark After Steep Decline

Bitcoin prices climbed back above the $15,000 mark Saturday following a steep decline Friday when the cryptocurrency shed about a third of its value.

Bitcoin, which is known to be extremely volatile, sank below $11,000 at one point Friday, according to data from CoinDesk.com.

Prices had approached $20,000 as recently as a week ago.

A visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, on Dec. 07, 2017 in London. (Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, on Dec. 07, 2017 in London. (Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Amid the turbulence Friday, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase, said buys and sells might be “temporarily offline” due to high traffic.

The price dip came on the back of a few days of bad news for bitcoin, which has still soared by more than 1,000 percent since the start of the year.

On Thursday, a bitcoin spinoff called bitcoin cash was suspended from Coinbase after possible insider trading.

Meanwhile, the U.S. markets regulator halted trading in a red-hot bitcoin stock.

Earlier in the week, a South Korea-based virtual currency exchange was forced to close its doors after falling victim to two attacks by hackers in the space of a few months.

The incidents have raised questions about the reliability of cryptocurrency markets, which aren’t regulated by governments or central banks.

Friday’s plunge threatens to take the shine off what’s been an incredible year for bitcoin. This time last year the virtual currency was worth less than $1,000.

The rally has been driven partly by the expectation that more and more mainstream investors will begin trading it.

Earlier in December, two major U.S. financial exchanges launched trading in bitcoin futures, which will help give it more clout with big, institutional investors.

Bitcoin’s dizzying ascent has prompted a number of high-profile figures in finance and economics to sound the alarm, cautioning that the currency’s boom is simply a huge bubble.

Among them are outgoing Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who described virtual currencies as “highly speculative.”

However, Shane Chanel, an adviser at Australian investment firm ASR Wealth Advisers, thinks investors could start shifting their focus to virtual currencies other than bitcoin over the coming months.

“I feel the cryptocurrency madness is only beginning,” he said.