Bitcoin neared a price level on Tuesday that could force software firm MicroStrategy Inc to stake more tokens against a bitcoin-backed loan or trigger selling of some of its vast holdings, setting fragile cryptocurrency markets on edge.
MictroStrategy, an aggressive investor in bitcoin, said it borrowed $205 million from crypto bank Silvergate Capital in March, with the three-year loan mostly secured against some 19,466 bitcoins.
If the bitcoin price dropped below about $21,000 that would trigger a “margin call” or a demand for extra capital, MicroStrategy President Phong Le said in webcast in May.
Bitcoin fell below that level to $20,816.36 on Tuesday before steadying near $23,000. Typically a margin call is met by providing more capital or liquidating the loan’s collateral.
It was unclear if the price moves had any consequences for MicroStrategy, or if the firm already provided more bitcoin or cash to secure the loan. The company did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment outside business hours.
Silvergate did not immediately respond to a request for comment also emailed outside business hours.
MicroStrategy’s Le in May said the firm had 95,643 “unencumbered bitcoin” that it could use as extra collateral.
“We could contribute more bitcoin to the collateral package, so … we don’t get into a situation of a margin call,” he had said.
Nevertheless the situation – even if it does not result in MicroStrategy selling anything – was enough to keep the mood nervous in jittery cryptocurrency markets.
Bitcoin has fallen about 40% in six weeks. MicroStrategy shares fell 25% on Monday and Silvergate shares dropped 17% as fear of rising interest rates hit risky asset prices.
In March, MicroStrategy said it intended to use the loan’s proceeds to buy more bitcoin, among other purposes.
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook.)