The world's largest cryptocurrency fell 7.8% to $20,289, its lowest since December 2020. It has lost around 28% since Friday and more than half its value this year.

Iran PressSci & Tech: The digital currency sector has been pummelled this week after US crypto lender Celsius froze withdrawals and transfers between accounts, stoking fears of contagion in markets already shaken by the demise of the terraUSD and luna tokens last month.

Expectations of sharper US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes as inflation in the world's biggest economy soars have also heaped pressure on risky assets from cryptocurrencies to stocks. 

Celsius has hired restructuring lawyers and is looking for possible financing options from investors, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Celsius is also exploring strategic alternatives, including financial restructuring, it said.

Smaller cryptocurrencies, which tend to move with bitcoin, also fell. Ether, the second-largest token, fell as much as 12% to $1,045, a new 15-month low. 

The chaos in the crypto market has spread to other companies, with some exchanges slashing workforces.

Major U.S. exchange Coinbase Global Inc (COIN.O) said on Tuesday it would cut about 1,100 jobs or 18% of its workforce. Gemini, another US exchange, said it would cut 10% of its workforce this month. 


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Cryptocurrencies collapse in last 24 hrs