As some rival cryptocurrencies slid along with bitcoin, the total estimated value of the crypto market fell to as low as $440 billion, according to industry website Coinmarketcap, having neared $650 billion just a day earlier.
But other cryptocurrencies rose this week, with investors moving into cheaper digital coins, rather than cashing out of the sector.
Ethereum, the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market size, soared to almost $900 earlier in the week, from around $500 a week earlier. Ripple, the third-biggest, has more than quadrupled in price since Monday.
Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for retail FX broker Oanda in Singapore, said there had also been moves out of bitcoin into Bitcoin Cash, a clone of the original cryptocurrency. Oanda does not handle trading in bitcoin.
“Most of it is unsophisticated retail traders getting burned badly,” Innes said on bitcoin’s recent retreat.
While some say the launch by CME and its rival Cboe Global Markets of bitcoin futures over the last two weeks has given the digital currency some perceived legitimacy, many policymakers remain skeptical.
Bitcoin is known to go through wild swings. In November, it tumbled almost 30 percent in four days from $7,888 to $5,555. In September, it fell 40 percent from $4,979 to $2,972.