Image: A cryptocurrency mining computer is seen in front of bitcoin logo during the annual Computex computer exhibition in Taipei

INTERNATIONAL - Bitcoin dropped to the lowest level this year as pressure mounts on the embryonic digital-currency sector, with global central bankers raising questions of viability and government regulators increasing scrutiny.

The biggest virtual currency fell as much as 5.1% to $5,832.68 on Sunday, piercing the previous low of the year of $5,920.72 that was set on Feb. 6, according Bitstamp prices.

That bought its decline from the record high of almost $20,000 reached in December to 70%.

On Friday, Japan’s Financial Services Agency ordered six of the country’s biggest crypto-trading venues to improve measures to prevent money laundering.

The companies must submit their plans by July 23.

New pressure in Japan, one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions, demonstrated the market’s fragility to regulatory moves in the absence of much positive news.

Peer-to-peer money also came under fresh pressure in recent weeks after two South Korean exchanges said they were hacked. That raised fresh concerns about the security of investor holdings.

India’s central bank gave commercial lenders until early July to stop providing services with any company dealing with digital coins, in an order that’s reportedly being challenged in courts.

Bitcoin pared its slide on Sunday and was down 3.7% to $5,918 as of 8:57 a.m. in New York. Bitstamp is one of the major price sources for cryptocurrencies, which have no unified quotation system and can vary substantially among countries.

Bloomberg’s composite pricing, which includes Bitstamp and other sources, showed Bitcoin closed on Friday at $6,070.19.

In Africa, Paxful, a global peer-to-peer cryptocurrency marketplace, said that virtual currency is popular in Africa. 

According to the company, African consumers account for over R500 million transactions per month on the platform. 

Notably, half of these consumers are under 30 years old. 

Of these consumers, 70% have a tertiary qualification or are studying toward a post-school qualification. 65% are male while 35% are female.

READ ALSO: 70% of bitcoin owners in SA are under 30 years old

READ ALSO: TIPS: Watch out for these Bitcoin scams

TOP STORY: Ed Sheeran tickets will cost you as little as R395

- BLOOMBERG, BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE