The world’s largest cryptocurrencies are struggling to stay in the green this week after a possible clampdown on exchanges by South Korean regulators sent the total market cap of all digital coins down by almost 25%.
Bitcoin, the largest and most well known cryptocurrency, is up 5% Friday. Second-place Ethereum is up 11%, and third-place Ripple’s XRP is up 7.80%.
But the past day’s gains may not be enough for the cryptocurrencies to finish this week in positive territory. Bitcoin and Ripple’s XRP are down 13% and 34%, respectively, over the last seven days.
Ethereum, on the other hand, is up 19% over the past week, putting it on track to be one of the few cryptocurrencies to finish this week with gains.
Bitcoin Cash, the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, could also finish the week in the green if it can hold on to its gains seen in the last day. The coin is up 5.42% in the past 24 hours, and is now barely above breaking even for the past seven days.
South Korean regulators put quite the chilling effect on cryptocurrencies this week. Reuters reports that the possible move to an outright ban of cryptocurrency trading exchanges in the country has divided its population between those who see the nascent technology as a means for upward mobility, and those who see it as a gateway to gambling, drugs and other illicit activities.
“The latest idea to ban it all seems to have come out of a fear that when the bubble bursts and things go wrong, it will be all on the government,” Yun Chang-hyun, an economics professor at University of Seoul, told the wire service.
Cryptocurrencies have been known to trade at hefty premiums on South Korean exchanges thanks to the country’s tight controls on capital. CoinMarketCap.com, one of the most heavily trafficked pricing data sites, caused an uproar earlier on Monday when it unexpectedly removed South Korean sources from its data, causing prices to show dramatic drops and inducing fearful sell-offs that further drove down prices