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Bitcoin plummets, hitting lowest point of the year

The cryptocurrency was worth more $17,000 last December. On Thursday, it fell below $5,500.

Blockchain Life 2018 forum in St Petersburg, Russia

Bitcoin souvenir coins.

Getty Images

Bitcoin's value has plunged since Tuesday.

On Thursday morning, bitcoin fell as low as $5,244 before recovering. It now hovers around $5,500. On Tuesday afternoon, it was valued at $6,300. This marks a new low for the year, according to CoinDesk's data

Last December, it topped $17,000.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, with no printed bills or coins involved. It runs on the decentralized blockchain system that no government, institution or authority controls. The value of the digital currency is determined by what people will pay for it, similar to the stock market.

While bitcoin, ethereum and other digital currencies have gained some mainstream attention, they're not widely used for actual purchases. They've instead turned into investment vehicles or stores of wealth.

Cryptocurrency has also become a frequent vehicle for scams. Earlier this month, scammers briefly hacked the Twitter accounts of Target and Google's G Suite to promote a fake cryptocurrency giveaway. In the past, bitcoin scammers have tried to impersonate billionaire Elon Musk after hijacking a verified Twitter account.