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Elon Musk’s tweets send Vietnamese crypto investors into spiral of anxiety

By Dat Nguyen   May 23, 2021 | 05:36 pm PT
Elon Musk’s tweets send Vietnamese crypto investors into spiral of anxiety
An illustration of Bitcoin. Photo by Shutterstock/By REDPIXEL.PL.
Elon Musk’s recent tweets have partly contributed to sending Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies tumbling, and Vietnamese investors into losses and diminishing their hope in the future of digital currencies.

Thien Tuan from the northern town of Mong Cai has seen his VND30 million ($1,300) investment in several cryptocurrencies depreciate by nearly 40 percent in the last few days.

The 28-year-old had entered the crypto market in early April with no prior investment experience. Half of his savings is now in XRP, which has fallen 36 percent since mid-April, and Dogecoin, which has lost half its value in two weeks.

He says: "Some of my friends have advised me to exit the market and look for other reliable assets like gold. I’m worried my losses will rise to 80-90 percent in the coming weeks."

On several Facebook groups of which he is a member, hundreds of people are expressing similar concerns about Bitcoin, Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies after their prices plunged due to the remarks made by Musk and other reasons.

In March, Musk had announced that customers could buy Tesla cars using bitcoin, but on May 13 he said in a tweet the company had suspended the plan. Bitcoin lost 12 percent almost immediately.

In another Twitter comment on May 17 Musk seemed to imply Tesla could sell its Bitcoin holdings, which sent the cryptocurrency down another 8 percent.

The world’s most popular coin has lost 47 percent from its peak in mid-April, while other cryptocurrencies too are down by double digits.

Other factors that contributed to the falls are China further cracking down on digital currencies and Binance Holdings, the largest cryptocurrency exchange, being investigated by U.S. authorities for money laundering and tax offenses.

Tran Cuong, 22, of Hanoi invested $700 in Bitcoin and Dogecoin, and says "I have lost nearly $500 due to Elon Musk’s tweets."

The sharp falls have raised concerns among coin miners in Vietnam.

Viet Hung of the southern province of Dong Nai only started mining a month ago and was expecting to recoup his investment by the end of the year.

"Now that the market has plunged, I don’t know whether to continue mining or sell the equipment and cut my losses," he says.

Minh Huy, a seller of mining rigs in HCMC, says many prospective buyers have suspended purchase plans to watch how the market moves before making a final decision.

Some of these deals are potentially worth billions of dong (VND1 billion = $43,500).

"The plunging market not only hurts investors but also hardware suppliers," Huy says.

Hoang Bao of Hanoi, who has years of experience in coin mining, says he has yet to see people sell off equipment, but feared that if prices keep falling the market could soon turn "chaotic."

"The worst-case scenario is that rigs will be left to gather dust like last time, but this time it will be on a much bigger scale," he says, referring to the 2018 Bitcoin selloff.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not recognized as a legitimate means of payment in Vietnam. The State Bank of Vietnam has warned that owning, trading and using cryptocurrencies are risky and not protected by law.

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