The bitcoin price lost some 15% in a shock sell-off on Tuesday, dragging down the wider bitcoin and crypto market and catching traders, who had hoped the hotly-anticipated Bakkt crypto platform launch would give bitcoin a boost, off-guard.
Now, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has revealed his libra cryptocurrency, which is largely credited with sparking bitcoin’s bull run earlier this year, may not launch in 2020, as previously expected.
“Obviously we want to move forward at some point soon [and] not have this take many years to roll out,” Zuckerberg told Nikkei Asian Review, a Japanese business newspaper. “But right now I’m really focused on making sure that we do this well.”
Facebook’s libra has run into opposition around the world as countries, including India, France and the U.S., warn it will undermine their national currencies, with U.S. president Donald Trump launching a blistering attack on libra, bitcoin, and crypto earlier this year.
Bitcoin traders and investors have closely-watched the development of Facebook’s libra, which has been adopted as something of a cryptocurrency regulatory bellwether and a tacit endorsement of bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology.
“A lot of people have had questions and concerns, and we’re committed to making sure that we work through all of those before moving forward,” Zuckerberg added.
The bitcoin price lost further ground yesterday, dropping some 5% and dipping below the psychological $8,000 per bitcoin mark.
Bitcoin cash, an offshoot of bitcoin itself, led the cryptocurrency market lower, recording losses for the day of over 5% and taking its weekly decline to almost 30%.
The bitcoin sell-off comes after a muted launch of the New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt crypto platform, which was unveiled last year boasting software giant Microsoft and coffee chain Starbucks among its partners.
Bakkt’s platform allows traders and institutional investors to swap so-called “physically” settled bitcoin futures contracts, meaning traders and investors are not able to sell more bitcoin than they actually have, but the total number traded came to just 72 by the end of its first day, compared to over 5,000 traded on the first day of CME’s cash-settled futures, launched at the peak of bitcoin-mania in December 2017.
“Bitcoin staged a brief recovery yesterday but is again below [$8,000], currently trading at $7,990,” Marcus Swanepoel, chief executive of bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Luno, said in a note to traders.
“Similar losses have been recorded by all the main altcoins. The loss of value is certainly as a result of the overall global market negativity, but the change in the structure of the market with the launch of the bitcoin futures on Bakkt is thought, by a number of traders, to have been a contributing factor.”
Facebook’s libra, considered by some to be a competitor to bitcoin, is being pitched as a global currency, with the social media giant aiming to bring as many countries on board as possible.
However, the primary target is developing countries where banking and access to finance is low.
Facebook and Zuckerberg, who launched the platform in 2004, are both still reeling from a string of data-sharing and privacy scandals that have plagued the company in recent years and led to questions around the power of some of Silicon Valley’s biggest internet companies.
“Part of the approach and how we’ve changed is that now when we do things that are going to be very sensitive for society, we want to have a period where we can go out and talk about them and consult with people and get feedback and work through the issues before rolling them out,” Zuckerberg said.
“And that’s a very different approach than what we might have taken five years ago. But I think it’s the right way for us to do this at the scale that we operate in.”
Follow me on Twitter.