By NATHANIEL POPPER and NELLIE BOWLESJAN. 17, 2018 SAN FRANCISCO — The air has been swiftly leaking out of the virtual currency bubble.

A decline in virtual currency prices that began before Christmas has picked up pace in recent days as concern has grown that governments could crack down on the new industry. The price of Bitcoin dipped below $10,000 on Wednesday, taking it to about half what it was at its peak last month.

Currently, the average price of one Bitcoin is about $11002, according to Blockchain.info, a news and data site. Other virtual currencies have been falling even faster.

Ripple, which was briefly second in value after Bitcoin, has lost more than two-thirds of its value from the high it hit early this month. The falling prices have been serious enough to prompt online posts with suicide hotlines for virtual currency investors in despair.

The declines are likely to be particularly painful for people who took out debt to buy virtual currencies at high prices. Even the lows hit on Wednesday are still well up — some 1,000 percent — from where Bitcoin began 2017. Read more from nytimes.com…

thumbnail courtesy of nytimes.com