Cryptocurrencies & Bitcoin

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were catapulted into the mainstream in 2017, as investor interest and media coverage were ignited by the sensational price gains generated since mid to late 2016.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were catapulted into the mainstream in 2017, as investor interest and media coverage were ignited by the sensational price gains generated since mid to late 2016.

Vast fortunes were made as bitcoins that had been worth just a few cents at the start of the decade rose exponentially in value to hit near $3000. In just a few years Bitcoin had grown to a market cap of over $40 billion.

Bitcoin’s genesis came back in the days of the cypherpunks, a group of activists committed to freedom, political change, and enhancing privacy through cryptography. Their vision for a decentralized, peer-to-peer electronic currency was enshrined in 2008 in a seminal white paper by the mysterious and perhaps mythical Satoshi Nakamoto: ‘Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System’.

Initially Bitcoin was regarded as just a means to transact on the web and became notorious for being the adopted currency of the dark web. But the technology behind it has come a long way since then.

Today, Bitcoin’s success has spawned over 1,000 other digital currencies, and now the focus is squarely on the development of the killer apps that will change not just finance but the way we live today.

At Real Vision we’ve documented the story of Bitcoin since our inception. We’re known for being at the vanguard of bringing cryptocurrencies into the mainstream, with regular contributors to the platform that include Dan Morehead, Tuur Demeester, Vinny Lingham, and Barry Silbert.

 

Bitcoin – and the blockchain behind it – are now accepted by many as instrumental in shaping our financial future. This shift means that many governments are now scrambling to keep up with Bitcoin from a regulatory point of view, because transactions are pseudo-anonymous.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s credentials as a store of value (confirmed by its vast price gains), have led to the creation of a vast army of ‘HODLers’ (‘Holding on for dear life’). It’s fair to say that for these people Bitcoin has been a rollercoaster ride of volatile market swings. These bumps have been exaggerated by protocol changes, battles between miners and developers over future scalability, and the general drive for acceptance and adoption, market by market, country by country.

Some argue that the real potential for financial revolution is in the blockchain that lies behind Bitcoin. This is essentially an immutable, distributed database that maintains an ever-expanding list of records.

Ethereum, which was developed in 2013 for the purpose of building decentralized applications, expanded rapidly in 2017 because of its potential in this area. Indeed, it quickly became the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Its advance was so momentous that market talk was dominated by the potential “flippening” (the day that Ethereum’s capitalization overtakes Bitcoin’s).

Of course Bitcoin’s distinct monetary properties and its inexorable rise have also hastened comparisons to gold – the one asset which has endured longer than any other and that has long been seen as the ultimate hedge against financial-market Armageddon. Some believe strongly that Bitcoin will ultimately assume that mantle and capture a significant part of gold’s market cap. Whether this expectation is fulfilled or not, it is becoming more widely accepted that there is a place in most portfolios for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.