Bitcoin Steadies; Still Heads for Weekly Slump as Scrutiny Rises

Bitcoin steadied Friday after four days of losses for the largest cryptocurrency amid increasing scrutiny from regulators around the world with concerns ranging from investor losses to strains on power systems.

Bitcoin was little changed on the day, at $13,467 as of 1:27 p.m. Hong Kong time, reversing an earlier decline. It was down as much as 23 percent for the week at one point, on track for the deepest decrease since January 2015, according to Bloomberg composite pricing, and is now down about 20 percent. The token peaked in mid-December soon after the introduction of futures trading on regulated exchanges in Chicago.

Among the blows to cryptocurrencies this week was the South Korean justice minister’s reiteration of a proposal to ban local cryptocurrency exchanges, though the comments were later downplayed by a spokesman for the president. Meanwhile, bitcoin mining — the process needed to facilitate transactions — is set to becomemore expensive as China’s government cracks down on the industry, in part out of concerns about power use.

In the U.S., scrutiny is set to increase amid concerns about the potential use of cryptocurrencies for fraudulent purposes such as money laundering. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo are set totestify to the Senate Banking Committee on risks tied to bitcoin and its counterparts, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The committee intends to hold a hearing in early February, the person said.

See here for more stories about cryptocurrencies:
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