Bitcoin drops below US$20,000 to lowest since December 2020

Bitcoin dropped below US$20,000 on Saturday (Jun 18) to its lowest level in 18 months, extending its slide as investors pull back from riskier assets amid rising interest rates.

The biggest cryptocurrency was down 7.1 per cent to US$18,993 at 9.06am GMT (5.06pm Singapore time), having earlier touched US$18,732, its lowest since December 2020.

It is down about 59 per cent this year, while rival cryptocurrency Ethereum-backed ether is down 73 per cent.

The digital currency sector has been pummelled this week after cryptocurrency lending company Celsius froze withdrawals and transfers between accounts.

The sector has also suffered losses after companies such as Coinbase Global, Gemini and Blockfi said they would lay off thousands of employees as investors ditch risky assets.