The value of all cryptocurrency tokens in circulation has plummeted by £470 billion ($600 billion USD) since their dizzying peak at the start of the year, new figures have revealed.
Investors across the world rushed to put their money into digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple after their price began to surge in late 2017.
Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple (Pexels)
But as the cryptocurrency bubble burst their value has slumped by 75 percent, according to data from coinmarketcap.com, and the losses have left some investors in financial ruin.
The surge in crypto investment was largely driven by the well-known Bitcoin which received extensive media coverage in late 2017 as its value rocketed.
The boom attracted thousands of investors eager not to miss out on the next big thing and the cryptocurrency peaked at nearly $20,000 per coin in December 2017.
But today Bitcoin is trading at $6,490 – a huge gain on its January 2017 value of just $1,000 but far less than many investors paid.
Pete Roberts from Nottingham was one of thousands of people caught up in the cryptocurrency craze and invested his savings of £18,000 into several virtual currencies.
But eight months after investing, his digital holdings are worth just £3,100.
He told The New York Times: “I got too caught up in the fear of missing out and trying to make a quick buck.
“The losses have pretty much left me financially ruined.”
In East Asia, investors with little or no experience in cryptocurrency trading jumped in with both feet as exchanges opened stores in busy shopping streets to allow people to purchase digital tokens in person without the need to do it online.
Kim Hyon-jeong, a 45-year-old teacher who lives in Seoul, South Korea, invested 100 million won, or £70,000, into cryptocurrencies in autumn last year.
The mother-of-one used savings, an insurance policy and a £20,000 loan to foot the bill.
Today, her investments are down by about 90 percent.
Bitcoin Charts (CoinMarketCap)
She said: “I thought that cryptocurrencies would be the one and only breakthrough for ordinary hard-working people like us.
“I thought my family and I could escape hardship and live more comfortably but it turned out to be the other way around.”
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have had a difficult year as authorities around the world begin to regulate the sale and trade of tokens.
While the virtual currency is legal in the UK, United States and European Union, a series of countries have banned its use altogether.