- Bitcoin resumed its slide on Tuesday, tumbling as low as $45,041.
- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called bitcoin “extremely inefficient” and warned about its use in illicit activity.
- After hitting $1 trillion in market value for the first time last week, bitcoin is now worth less than $900 billion.
Bitcoin’s price descended further on Tuesday as U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Tesla CEO Elon Musk weighed in on the cryptocurrency’s recent rally.
The world’s most valuable digital coin plunged 11% in 24 hours, sinking below $50,000 to trade around $48,080 at 11:30 a.m. ET, according to data from Coin Metrics. It had earlier fallen as much as 16% to hit an intraday low of $45,041.
Smaller digital tokens like ether and XRP also tumbled. Ether slipped 11% to $1,573, while XRP sank 17% to trade around 47 cents.
Yellen on Monday called bitcoin an “extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions” and warned about its use in illicit activity. She also sounded the alarm about bitcoin’s impact on the environment. The token’s wild surge has reminded some critics of the sheer level of electricity required to produce new coins.
Bitcoin isn’t controlled by any central authority. So-called miners run high-power machines that compete to solve complex math puzzles in order to make a transaction go through. Bitcoin’s network consumes more electricity than Pakistan, according to an online tool from researchers at Cambridge University.
Yellen also warned about the risks for retail investors buying bitcoin.
“It is a highly speculative asset and you know I think people should be aware it can be extremely volatile and I do worry about potential losses that investors can suffer,” the former Federal Reserve chair told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at a New York Times DealBook conference.