Moses Francis has had a heart-breaking Wednesday. Looking at his Binance app, every graph is red. He holds four coins – Tron, Doge, Litecoin and Ripple. They have been bleeding value all day.

“I’ve been holding for over a year now. I’ve come across a lot of dips. But I haven’t encountered one as bad as this,” he says to TechCabal.

Francis is not alone. In Nigeria, thousands of users have felt burned on a day of massive slumps in value of virtually every notable cryptocurrency traded across the globe. ‘Bitcoin’, ‘Binance’, ‘Elon Musk’ and ‘Crypto’ are among top trends on Twitter.

Bitcoin is the hardest hit – the value has crashed as low as $32,000 from a previous high of $65,000 in mid April. But the wave has shaken BNB, Binance’s cryptocurrency, as well as Ethereum, the currency of the NFT world.

“I am feeling down. Anytime I open Binance, I feel as though I want to purge,” says Ogechukwu (he gave just his first name) who has held Bitcoin and Ethereum since 2017.

Many reacted to the crash by choosing to see the funny side. 

Bitnob, a Lagos-based cryptocurrency exchange, had a request for Risevest, a stock and real estate investment startup. 

Someone imagined the Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor must be feeling good about his crypto warnings earlier in the year. (‘Ponzi’ also became a top trend in Nigeria).

But the jokes do not mask the pain of the dip’s strokes. Victor Asemota, a Nigerian businessman and startup investor, lamented in a tweet

“I take it back. Crypto is now worse than equities. I have lost all my gains this year and the last in a few hours.”

Indeed Bitcoin has now lost all of the gains made since February 8, the day Tesla announced it would accept Bitcoin as a form of payment for its highly-demanded cars. In the three months since, BTC rose steadily.

That rising tide drove up the value of other currencies. The biggest beneficiary of the Elon Musk-fueled bull market was Dogecoin, whose value rose an incredible 12,000% between January and the first week of May. $1,000 (₦380,000) worth of Doge in January was worth $121,000 (₦46 million) just a few weeks ago.

But Musk has caused a different kind of turbulence, 49 days after that boom announcement.

At 11 pm on May 12, Musk tweeted ominously that Tesla will not be accepting Bitcoin for car payments. The reason given was that because Bitcoin takes a lot of energy to mine, it would be unfitting for a company that sells electric cars to directly encourage activities that potentially harm the environment.

And just like that, the Cryptoverse has been in a tailspin. 

Francis, a 21-year-old medical student, says more than half the value of his coins have vanished with Wednesday’s dip. He is taking it cheerfully, mustering some laughter on our call. He suspects some foul play has fueled the dip.

“This dip is because crypto whales have sold off en masse. After this dip, they will re-buy and make gains. I think this thing is planned.”

There is no evidence at the moment of a coordinated sell-off by BTC holders. Observers and long-time holders believe the cryptocurrency market is merely experiencing a correction, a tendency familiar with veteran stock market traders.

“The case for Bitcoin hasn’t changed,” Eloho Omame, co-founder of FirstCheck Africa, a Nigerian startup investment firm, told TechCabal.

“Crypto markets were always volatile. So honestly it’s not fun, but it’s not unexpected. Long term, I’m bullish. So it doesn’t really matter what happens today.”

That feeling – that this dip is not abnormal or catastrophic – has helped keep heads cool even as crypto exchange apps continue to look bloody. Despite the crash in value, holders only lose when they sell off their assets at the current prices.

The second part of the Asemota tweet mentioned above projected strength: “Still buying the dip on margin though. Worst case, I lose everything. Best case, I can afford another condo.” (He explained his risk calculus in a follow-up tweet).

Other bruised holders like Francis are confident of a rebound. “The only thing I can do [is] HODL,” an acronym popular among crypto enthusiasts that could be interpreted as Hold On for Dear Life. 

Ogechukwu is also holding on, saying he is in the game for the long haul. “I won’t be selling. I know I will still grow but looking at the value still makes my stomach churn.”

While it is mainly a consumer affair, Dip Day affects crypto companies who facilitate trades. Binance experienced network congestion on Wednesday (I tried to sign up, unsuccessfully). ETH and ERC20 withdrawals were temporarily disabled for about an hour.

Tomiwa Lasebikan, co-founder of Buycoins, a Nigerian crypto exchange, is looking beyond the moment.

“What matters is my long term thesis and aggressively improving the tech so it’s tangibly accessible to as many people as possible around the world,” he told TechCabal. 

What does Musk, the unanimous hero and villain of this story so far, think of all this?

Which, in the crypto world, is another code for “HODL!”

Alexander Onukwue Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox