Cryptocurrencies have shed almost $700 billion since January peak
The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies fell to around $138.6 billion, down more than 80 percent since its January peak. Bitcoin was seen trading at a price of $4,300, down over 4 percent on the day, and well below its all-time high of nearly $20,000 last year. Investors are rattled by news of a schism in bitcoin's most notable spin-off, bitcoin cash, as well as regulatory worries. The cryptocurrency market is facing an intense sell-off as investors are rattled by heightened talk of regulatory scrutiny and infighting over a schism in bitcoin's most notable spin-off, bitcoin cash.At around 1:50 p.m. London time (8:50 a.m. ET), the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies — which is worked out by multiplying prices by the number of tokens in circulation — had fallen to around $138.6 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.That marks cryptocurrencies' lowest level since September 2017, and a more than 80 percent decline — which translates to almost $700 billion — since the peak of over $830 billion their market value reached at the start of the year.Prices were hit with an initial downturn last week, ending months of relatively stable trading for the world's biggest and best-known digital asset, bitcoin — an unusual phenomenon for an asset known for its wild volatility.That move came on the back of news that bitcoin cash's blockchain — essentially a digital ledger with no central authority overseeing it — was set to be split into two, an event known as a "hard fork."Forks, which are essentially software upgrades, usually occur when there is a disagreement about how to scale a cryptocurrency to cope with a higher volume of trading, such as the August 2017 fork that led to the creation of bitcoin cash.