As it continues to ascent in value, the Bitcoin has now officially broken above the $12,000 mark. The cryptocurrency reached this landmark record on December 6th 2017. Experts have now signaled alarm that this could result in a “correction.”
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. It is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. It was first created in 2008 by either an anonymous programmer or a group of programmers under a pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. Speculation is rife over the real identity of the person who created the system. It was in 2009 when “Nakamoto” released Bitcoin as an open source software. Given that it is a decentralized electronic currency, it cannot be controlled by any government. It is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world. Litecoin, Peercoin, Namecoin and Ripple are among the other cryptocurrencies available.
Bitcoin is a community-run system. It has often been referred to as the first “start-up currency”. And although critics argue that digital cash systems are volatile and speculative in nature and comes with a number of inherent risks, by the beginning of 2015, there were 100,000 merchants and vendors who accepted Bitcoins as payment. On the other hand, Bitcoins have been used in illegal trade online as well. One of the reasons why Bitcoins have become so popular is due to the fact that there is no middle man in this system. Transactions are made with no middle men and therefore, no need for a banking systems. The currency cannot be printed, and there are no transaction fees. Additionally, there is guaranteed security in the transactions as there is no need to give your real name.
In August 2017, it was announced that Bitcoin was being split into two. When the cryptocurrency’s power brokers could not unify behind a single solution, Bitcoin Cash was created. This split has been referred to as a ‘fork’.
Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is a means of crowdfunding through the use of cryptocurrency. Companies sell investors digital tokens in exchange for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins. According to a report from Financial Times, in 2017 software developers in Silicon Valley have been able to raise about $1.8 billion through the sale of new currencies. Some of the currencies that were used are Atoms, Basic Attention Tokens and Tezzies.
In 2017, the value of Bitcoins began to exponentially rise in the markets. The cryptocurrency reached $3,451.86 (£2,651) per coin during trade on August 7, 2017 and has continued to grow since. On October 20th, 2017, Bitcoin surged to a record high of more than $6,000. In January 2017, Bitcoin was valued at only $1,000.
Bitcoin broke above the $12,000 mark Wednesday morning Asia-time, as the cryptocurrency continued its march higher. Due to this spike, the cryptocurrency has a total market value of about $203 billion. It is now worth more than twice Goldman Sachs' market cap.
Experts’ opinions on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are deeply divided. In September 2017, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin "a fraud.” He also warned that the cryptocurrency bubble will likely burst. World leaders like Vladimir Putin have also spoken about the inherent dangers but have admitted that cryptocurrencies may be inevitable. China has recently called for a freeze on all ICOs. It also shut down all exchanges. However, it has also made significant investments in developing Blockchain technology.
Stephen Roach, Yale University senior fellow and the former Asia chairman and chief economist at investment bank Morgan Stanley has voiced his skepticism. He noted, “This is a toxic concept for investors. This is a dangerous speculative bubble by any shadow or stretch of the imagination. I've never seen a chart of a security where the price really has a vertical pattern to it. And bitcoin is the most vertical of any pattern I've ever seen in my career.”
Our assessment is that Bitcoin’s ascent in market value has been unprecedented in its scale in 2017. This has also caused concern among analysts, traditional banking systems and governments across the world. Even if there is a correction in the near future, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will continue to be adapted by the general public. This will pose a challenge for governments as they will have to draft policies to adequately monitor these forms of transactions.