Crypto Weekly: Celsius freeze, hot mess

STORY: This is Crypto Weekly, with your top stories on alternative currencies... bitcoin's plunged again, but some people are still making money off the turmoil.

Bitcoin dropped to 18-month lows on Monday, sinking around 15%. That took the total value of crypto markets to below $1 trillion for the first time since January last year.

The tumble came after crypto lender Celsius said it was freezing withdrawals, citing “extreme” market conditions.

Reuters cryptocurrency correspondent Tom Wilson:

“Celsius Network is one of the largest cryptocurrency lenders, and crypto investors already on edge about rising inflation and the risk of higher interest rates are worried that the failure of Celsius, if that does happen, will spread more widely into the cryptocurrency market”.

One group of people is enjoying the turmoil.

Arbitrageurs make money by exploiting price differences between different countries and exchanges.

With volatile prices, and thousands of trading platforms, crypto lends itself to what's known as “arb trading”.

One London-based fund told Reuters it made big gains even as bitcoin tumbled.

A report from consultants PwC says such strategies now make up about a third of all active crypto hedge funds.

Crypto-linked stocks are faring less well.

Software firm MicroStrategy has built up a vast bitcoin holding.

This week saw its shares plunge by a quarter, making investors fear it might have to raise more collateral or sell some of its stash.

Prominent exchange Coinbase Global tumbled too, and said Tuesday that it would shed 1,100 jobs - or almost a fifth of its workforce.