After a three-week long downtrend, Ethereum’s price has taken a 39% hit from $473 on 27thJuly bringing it to a 9-month record low. Despite peaking at $323 earlier on in the day, late afternoon sell-offs began driving the price down again breaking through the $300 psychological level at 16:45 UTC+1. The asset fraternized with this level for almost an hour, briefly recovering to $303, only to break bearish again and drop below $290; a price not seen since 10th November 2017.
It is likely that investor confidence may have been tested upon hitting this $300 psychological level, with panicked intraday traders pre-empting this failed support and withdrawing in to other currencies.
Recent speculation around the potential manipulation of the Ethereum network may have added to the community exodus, after congestion from an alleged unknown spammer was reported last week. Later reports suggested the smart contract, which at peak times consumed 34.4% of gas and increased gas prices by 12x the normal rate, was not of malicious nature and was in fact from Chinese lotteries running on Blockchain. Malicious or not, this is not the first time Ethereum has had significant delays and subsequent gas price increases from congestion issues; with each event circulating rumours of supposed spam attacks.
The initial ambiguity in what causes these types of heightened congestions highlights a major vulnerability in the network and creates uncertainty among Ethereum users; denoted by a clear price drop succeeding each incident as investor belief is shaken. The new Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, Casper, cannot come quick enough for many, as the new protocol hopes to deliver increased network throughput capabilities.
Despite this, Ethereum’s regression is still well in tune with the current bear market. All but two of the top ten cryptocurrencies have seen a significant drop in the past 7 days, with a mean group average decline of 18.55%. With the whole market falling, a percentage majority of trades out of Ethereum have been moving back in to pegged value assets such as Tether and USD, as investors appear to be seeking the relative security of stable coins and bearish sentiment continues.