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Coinbase suspends bitcoin trading after prices sink

By Sara Shayanian
Coinbase suspends bitcoin trading after prices sink
The price of bitcoin dropped $4,600 on Thursday, prompting fears of a possible cryptocurrency market crash. File Photo by Carlos Amarillo/Shutterstock/UPI

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Coinbase, one of bitcoin's largest marketplaces, said Friday buying and selling of the volatile cryptocurrency has been disabled for the time being over fears of a crash.

"All buys and sells have been temporarily disabled. We are working on a fix and apologize for any inconvenience," Coinbase stated on its website.

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In another update, the marketplace said "due to today's high traffic, buys and sells may be temporarily offline. We're working on restoring full availability as soon as possible."

Coinbase's mobile application provides an easy method to purchase cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin.

RELATED Coinbase halts transactions amid probe into possible Bitcoin Cash insider trading

Wednesday, Coinbase annoucned it was investigating whether employees engaged in insider trading of bitcoin cash before the currency was introduced to the exchange.

"Given the price increase in the hours leading up the announcement, we will be conducting an investigation into this matter," Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said. "If we find evidence of any employee or contractor violating our policies - -- directly or indirectly - -- I will not hesitate to terminate the employee immediately and take appropriate legal action."

The announcement comes after bitcoin, the world's biggest cryptocurrency, traded 18 percent lower on Coindbase nearing $12,800.

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Earlier, at its lowest point, bitcoin was down as much as 45 percent Friday from its recent high of nearly $20,000.

Ron William, founder and principle market strategist at RW Market Advisory, said the price drop is "very normal," but could lead to other markets feeling the heat if the downward trend continues.

"Price is extremely irrational," William told CNBC. "And now it is looking -- if we continue lower --that this could be a broader contagion story for the other markets."

RELATED Bitcoin reaches $11K before dropping 18 percent

There doesn't seem to be a catalyst for the decrease. However, prices started to plunge once one of the founders of bitcoin.com announced he would sell his stake in the company.

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