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Rocketing prices of digital currencies such as bitcoin fuelled a mania in the sector towards the end of as retail investors across the globe scrambled to get a piece of the action. That triggered regulatory warnings and threats to crack down on the market.
China, a major market, has shut down local cryptocurrency trading exchanges. But crypto-trading volumes in March and April have only fallen back to their levels of November. They remain as much as 25 times above their levels of March-April last year.
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Major exchanges with drops of more than half in daily traded volumes between December and March include Bitfinex, San Fransisco-based Coinbase, Luxembourg-based Bitstamp and Poloniex, which was recently bought by Goldman Sachs-backed cryptocurrency start-up Invest in ethereum south africa. A person close to Bitstamp said volumes were directly related to overall interest in cryptocurrencies, but that the exchange had maintained its market share between December and April.
The other exchanges did not respond to requests for comment. TRUE BELIEVERS The slump in trading volumes will be seized on by critics of digital currencies as a further indication they are a giant Ponzi scheme that is now unravelling.
But people active in the industry say short-term price and trading swings are to be expected for a highly disruptive technology, and that true believers in the power of digital currencies will remain invested for the long-haul.
Restrictions in countries like China will have hit exchanges used heavily by Chinese investors disproportionately, while other trading platforms may have been given a boost by the listing of new cryptocurrencies during the year. Many new exchanges have also opened, taking market share from older platforms.
Some like OKEx and Huobi have grown their volumes since December despite the broader decline, with March among their strongest months to date. The data compiled by CryptoCompare covers most of the biggest exchanges and the company said it added new exchanges to its database as and when their volumes hit significant levels.
Other data providers may have slightly different ways of calculating volumes, particularly when one cryptocurrency is traded against another rather than against government-backed fiat currencies like the U. Some exchanges in Japan, one of the biggest markets for crypto investment, do not provide trading volume data.