Ether, the second-largest virtual currency, slumped 8.9% from its level at 5 p.m. New York time on Friday, according to Bloomberg composite pricing. Bitcoin lost 2.1%, while the market capitalization of digital assets tracked by CoinMarketCap.com shrank to $197 billion — down about $640 billion from its January peak.
Cryptocurrencies have declined for five of the past six weeks amid concern that a broader adoption of digital assets will take longer than some had anticipated. That worry was underscored over the weekend after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily suspended trading in two exchange-traded notes linked to cryptocurrencies and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin told Bloomberg that the days of explosive growth in the blockchain industry have likely come and gone.
A highly touted investment instrument that sought to appeal to U.S. public markets investors looking for cryptocurrency exposure has just seen a setback.
Announced on Sunday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued an order seeking to suspend the trading of the Bitcoin Tracker One and Ether Tracker One exchange-traded notes, issued by XBT Provider AB, a Swedish-based subsidiary of the U.K. firm CoinShares Holdings.
In the official order, the SEC cited a “confusion amongst market participants” based in the U.S. as to the nature of the financial instruments as the reason for the move.
The suspension is in effect as of 5:30 p.m. EDT today, and will last through 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 20. Further, trading on other, non-U.S. exchanges will not be interrupted during the suspension, the release suggested.
“The broker-dealer application materials submitted to enable the offer and sale of these financial products in the U.S., as well as certain trading websites, characterize them as ‘Exchange Traded Funds.’ Other public sources characterize the instruments as ‘Exchange Traded Notes.’ By contrast, the issuer characterizes them in its offering materials as ‘non-equity linked certificates,'” the release reads.