Bitcoin Buying Could Be Curbed This Weekend If Trading Goes Wild

Retail investing platform eToro Ltd. is fielding so much demand for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that it warned customers they may encounter “possible limitations” filling orders.

“The unprecedented demand for crypto, coupled with limited liquidity, presents challenges to our ability to support BUY orders over the weekend,” the Israeli-British company said in an email to customers. “In light of this, it may be necessary for us to place limitations on crypto BUY orders over the weekend.”

The notice underscores how platforms are struggling to manage the surging volatility in the crypto market as Bitcoin skyrocketed to an all-time high of more than $40,000 last week. The digital coin has since dropped to around $35,500, but investors’ appetite for digital currencies is not waning. Unlike stocks, they trade 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and volume has surged on weekends when investors have more free time to play the market.

“It is our effort to give clients advance notice that there may be restrictions,” an eToro spokeswoman said Wednesday. “We obviously hope we will not have to implement any of these but the crypto markets are incredibly volatile at the moment and the weekends present the greatest challenges.”

If eToro implements the curbs, the limitations may set a temporary maximum exposure per crypto-asset for each client, and temporarily prevent customers from placing new buy orders, according to the email. Last week, the company halted the ability of investors in Europe from trading cryptocurrencies on margin in response to soaring risks in the market.

Even eToro, a 13-year-old firm with 17 million users that’s steeped in the roller-coaster ways of Bitcoin, didn’t expect this level of action in the market. In just the last 11 days, eToro has opened 380,000 new accounts, and its crypto-trading volume is running 25 times higher than the same period in 2020. In December, it launched a promotion in the U.S. that gave $500 to clients who opened new crypto accounts of at least $5,000.

— With assistance by Brandon Kochkodin

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