Ether has lost over 30% of its value in the last month alone. Can the plan for an Ethereum futures market bring it the good news it clearly needs? Photo:

Crypto-currency markets have had a rough ride in 2018. From an all-time high market capitalization of more than $830 billion in January they have dumped 77% to a new 2018 low of just below $190 billion on Tuesday.

Crypto pundits will say that this volatility is normal for the nascent markets, but $630 billion is a lot of money to leave any industry in such a short space of time. Bitcoin has traditionally dominated the rise and fall of the overall crypto market, but this week’s crash has been led by Ethereum.

Ethereum’s ETH token has ditched 17% on the day to trade at its lowest level since September 2017, around $265. Over the past week Ethereum has slid 35% and since a July high of a touch over $500 it is down almost 50%. According to crypto analytics website, Ethereum reached an all-time high of just over $1,400 in January. Since then it has been crashed a whopping 80% to its current levels, a more severe loss than Bitcoin’s 70% decline since its December high of $20,000.

Ethereum is the second largest crypto-currency after Bitcoin. As opposed to a store of value it serves as a platform for smart contracts and decentralized applications, dApps. For this reason it has been the platform of choice for hundreds of blockchain projects and initial coin offerings (ICOs) over the past year. ICOs would use Ether as their preferred currency for raising funds for the project, and this drove up the price of the token in late 2017 and early 2018. Investors would buy ETH to participate in ICOs and demand soared.

In a Bloomberg report it was surmised that ICO projects are now selling off their Ethereum stash to cover expenses as the crypto market continues to fall. Crypto-currency hedge fund manager Biswa Das elaborated that “these startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market,” before adding: “It was fine last year, but right now the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure.”

With general crypto market woes intensifying, the bears are selling off digital tokens at a faster rate resulting in losses of over 20% in the past 24 hours alone for many of them. The longer term prospects for Ethereum are far more promising as it is still the platform of choice for over 90% of blockchain startups. The year 2018, however, has turned into the annus horribilis for all digital currencies, and the crypto winter is not over yet.

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