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Data: CoinDesk; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Bitcoin prices tumbled sharply Tuesday, falling to the lowest levels since early December — briefly dipping below $10,000 by one measure — after a report that China and South Korea are escalating their crackdown on the cryptocurrency, per Coindesk. Losses spread to several other digital currencies in early morning trading.

Why it matters: Cryptocurrencies have experienced a volatile start to 2018 after rising to new heights last year. The tightening of regulations reveals the cautious approach countries are taking to the growing cryptocurrency craze.

By the numbers: Bitcoin broke through the $13,000 and $12,000 marks Tuesday morning, tumbling as low as just under $10,000 before recovering slightly, per Coindesk. It's currently priced at $10,680.58.

  • Notable: Bitcoin was valued at around $1,000 at the beginning of 2017. In December, it broke $20,000.

Details of government crackdown:

  • The People's Bank of China Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng said in an internal memo, obtained by Reuters, that Chinese authorities "should ban centralized trading of virtual currencies as well as individuals and businesses that provide related services."
  • Bloomberg also reported Monday that China is targeting online platforms and mobile apps that offer exchange-like services.
  • South Korea is also expected to make a decision on a proposed ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, reports CNBC.

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