Bitcoin hovered around $49,000 on Monday, down 1.5 per cent on the day Image Credit: Shutterstock

Bitcoin tumbled almost 5 per cent on Monday, as traders nursed losses after a brutal prior day session in which the price of the world's largest digital asset at one point lost over one fifth of its value.

The rout sent Bitcoin's price and the amount invested in bitcoin futures back to where they were in early October, before a massive price surge that sent the token to an all-time high of $69,000 on November 10.

It was last down 3.9 per cent at $47,567.

"Our expectation is the rest of the fourth quarter will be a hard month; we aren't seeing the strength in bitcoin that we generally see after one of these crushing days, leverage markets have been completely reset, and open interest within leverage markets has completely reset," said Matt Dibb, chief operating officer of Stackfunds.

Crypto data platform Coinglass showed open interest - the total number of futures contracts held by market participants at the end of the trading day - across all exchanges was last at $16.5 billion compared with $23.5 billion on Thursday, and as much as $27 billion on November 10.

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Bitcoin tumbled almost 5 per cent on Monday

Traders said the weekend fall was connected with the broad move away from riskier assets in traditional markets over worries about the omicron variant of the new coronavirus, combined with lower trading liquidity.

"There's barely any liquidity on weekends so markets are slightly more vulnerable to shocks - that and a lot of demand coming from institutionals, and they're not trading over the weekend," said Joseph Edwards, head of research at crypto brokerage Enigma Securities in London.

As prices fell further, investors who had bought Bitcoin on margin saw exchanges close their positions, causing a cascade of selling. A range of retail-focused exchanges closed more than $2 billion of long bitcoin positions on Saturday, according to Coinglass.

Some exchanges allow traders to place bets 20 times or more the size of their investment, meaning a small move in the wrong direction can cause exchanges to liquidate clients' positions when their initial investment is gone.

Ben Caselin at Asia-based crypto exchange AAX said liquidity had become thin because of Bitcoin moved off exchanges to offline digital wallets.

Ether, the world's second-largest cryptocurrency, was also hit on Saturday, albeit less hard. It tumbled 5.5 per cent on Monday however to $3,965, versus its November 10 high of $4,868, though has gained on its larger rival.

On Sunday, one ether rose to as high as 0.086 Bitcoin , its highest since May 2018.

On Monday CME Group Inc will launch ether mini futures, which they hope will let traders better manage the risk of trading the coin.