The bitcoin price surged to an intraday high on Monday after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a crucial comment during his surprise press conference on cryptocurrency regulation.
The flagship cryptocurrency, which traded down after Mnuchin referred to it as a “national security issue,” suddenly shot higher midway through a question-and-answer session when a reporter asked him what he believed was driving its mammoth price increase.
No, Mnuchin didn’t respond by explaining that cryptocurrency will supplant gold as the world’s favorite safe haven asset, and he didn’t pull any punches about its perceived association with illicit activities.
Crucially, though, he declined to allege that illicit activity was fueling bitcoin’s bull run, nor did he state that it was his duty to stop US residents from investing in cryptocurrency for speculative reasons.
Rather, he warned them to “be careful” and do their own research – fundamentally the same advice you’d expect from any level-headed crypto insider.
Crypto analyst Mati Greenspan extrapolated his comment a step further, stating that this means “Bitcoin trading on Wall Street is still on the table.”
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin made two more key distinctions that helped the market regain its footing.
First, he distinguished between Facebook’s Libra – a cryptocurrency launched by a consortium of private companies – and bitcoin.
Second, he appeared to carve out legal status for cryptocurrencies by admonishing the industry to submit to anti-money laundering regulations and warning that the government would target illicit use.
Some in the industry feared the White House might seek a total ban, particularly after President Trump dumped on bitcoin last week. Instead, Mnuchin more or less told crypto companies and users to obey the law.
Bitcoin continued to trend higher following the conclusion of Mnuchin’s press conference.
By 3:30 pm ET, BTC/USD had climbed as high as $10,943 on Bitstamp – less than a day after breaching the $10,000 level in a brutal sell-off.
The bitcoin price last traded at $10,897, which represents a 24-hour increase of 3.44% and translates into a roughly $194 billion market cap.
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