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Bad day for bitcoin as it falls below $15,000 – as Ripple dives

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What a difference a month makes. Having touched $20,000 in December, today bitcoin fell below $15,000 again, as fellow cryptocurrency Ripple lost a third of its value.

Bitcoin's almost 10 per cent fall, to just over $14,800, came a week before the first bitcoin futures were due to expire.

In December the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) both launched bitcoin futures contracts, causing the price to surge as high as $20,000 just before Christmas.

However, with the first contracts set to expire on 17 January, investors are expected to suffer heavy losses.

But despite the falls, Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets, suggested the launch of futures contracts may have had a stabilising effect on bitcoin.

"If you really think that bitcoin is nothing but a sham concept or a big bubble, then we should have seen massive short bets by now," he said.

"Either traders are actually scared to short bitcoin because of its popularity and its volatility or they are waiting on the sidelines.

"Since the launch of the bitcoin futures on the CBOE and the CME exchanges, one thing which we have not witnessed is the string of record highs for bitcoin."

Meanwhile Ripple, the cryptocurrency whose value has grown 35,000 per cent in the past year, crashed 29 per cent on the back of bitcoin's fall, dropping as low as $2.48.

Read more: What is Ripple? The cryptocurrency growing faster than bitcoin explained

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