- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In a stunning burst of volatility, the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin has seen its market price seesaw from a record high of $7,720 to as low as $5,620 just in a week.

Over the past month, Bitcoin’s value has jumped 70 percent, an increase which even its boosters have admitted is an “exceptionally wild ride” which “is not for the faint of heart.”

Analysts are struggling to explain the shadowy internet currency’s turbulence with regulators, banks and fund managers voicing concerns that the fluctuations show obvious signs of a bubble. Some analysts argue the surge in value is connected to a massive spike in trading volume over the past month.

Now worth an overall market value of roughly $110 billion, the Bitcoin market has become too large for Wall Street, to ignore with signs more investors are wiling to take a risk.

In a letter last month to its clients, Bank of America Merrill Lynch urged investors to reconsider Bitcoin, stating that “cryptocurrencies present a $1.6 billion opportunity for Wall Street.”

But other top Wall Street players remain deeply skeptical, fearing Bitcoin’s popularity is because it is seen as a vehicle used primarily for illicit and criminal activity.

Larry Fink, head of BlackRock, the giant New York investment management firm, recently claimed Biton’s volatility was evidence of “how much money laundering is being done in the world.” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has called bitcoin a “fraud.”

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said bitcoin use on the illegal markets has raised red flags in Washington. He told Yahoo Finance that he’s discussing Bitcoin regulations with other a host of other countries to assure the currency is not used for “illicit transfers of funds.”

“We want to make sure that you don’t have the ‘Dark Web’ funded in Bitcoins,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “And that’s something that is a concern of ours today.”

The SEC and IRS have said their experts are also watching Bitcoin price volatility with growing concern. The IRS has recently pursued Bitcoin tax cheats.

Some link the latest Bitcoin price swings to a Nov. 8 cancellation to an upgrade of the technological backbone that supports Bitcoin, known as blockchain. The upgrade would have created another offshoot currency.

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