The price of bitcoin hit yet another all-time high this week when the market managed to reach $4,190 on August 13 as SegWit has been locked in and will soon come into effect. However, that was not the only driver of the cryptocurrency’s price. The Bitcoin ecosystem is showing clear signs of maturing, with the cryptoasset not only into a viable alternative asset class, but also underpinning a new industry.
Bitcoin’s trading volumes have jumped so far in August and the number of bitcoin transactions have doubled from August 1 to August 14, returning to the pre-fork level around 260,000 per day. While some of this volume can be attributed to bitcoin holders selling their “free” bitcoin cash (BCH) tokens, there is also new money flowing into bitcoin now that the split that threatened bitcoin’s existence has passed with little to no damage to the digital currency or its network.
Furthermore, the Bitcoin ecosystem is expanding as seen by Coinbase’s recent $100 million cash injection in the form of a Series D funding that now values Coinbase at around $1.6 billion. This makes Coinbase the first bitcoin startup unicorn and is a big step towards fully legitimizing bitcoin and cryptocurrency as an asset class. Also, Fidelity expanded on their offering to let customers view their holdings on Coinbase, after initially rolling out the tracking service for bitcoin in May. GBTC is trading at a substantial premium to bitcoin, approval for an ETF looks to be on the horizon and big players in the financial space are starting to take bitcoin seriously.
The Bittrex exchange has been one of the main benefactors as well as driving forces behind the boost in altcoin trading as it has now become the second largest exchange in terms of traded volume for digital tokens, which is also indicative of the progress of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Bittrex is most known for being one of the first large exchanges to list new altcoins (especially ICO tokens) and capitalized on the Bitcoin blockchain fork by capturing a big share of bitcoin cash’s (BCH) trading volumes just after the split, as well as adequately handling the split. Improved confidence, as well as moves away from Poloniex by many traders due to several ‘red flags,’ has propelled Bittrex to the forefront as a leading cryptocurrency exchange. Further, the popular trading website TradingView.com recently added trading pairs for the exchange, further increasing the visibility of bitcoin (and cryptoassets) to established traders and investors.
While bitcoin is soaring, altcoins are not lagging behind by much. The price of ethereum shot back up through the $300 mark amidst geopolitical turmoil in Korea and the cryptocurrency of China-based smart contract platform NEO (formerly known as Antshares) has shot into the top ten cryptocurrencies by market share, as well as into the top five of CoinGecko’s weighted rankings, rallying from $15 to $52.
This week’s review is compiled from contributions by Alex Lielacher, Nigel Dollentas, Jamie Holmes, Joseph Young, and Michael Scott.
On August 9, the highly-anticipated Segregated Witness (SegWit) protocol upgrade to the Bitcoin blockchain was officially locked in on block 479,707. While there is still a two-week waiting period before SegWit will be fully activated, the lock-in means that all bitcoin mining operations have to implement this update now or else they will have to give up their bitcoin mining income going forward. The two-week waiting period gives Bitcoin participants the time to upgrade their systems to the new software and will be finished around August 22.
The move of the Bitcoin community to implement SegWit, which also led to the hard fork that created the new altcoin bitcoin cash was welcome by the majority of the community as well as investors who witnessed the price of bitcoin rally to new all-time highs.
Since August 9, tensions between North Korea and the US have intensified, with South Korean traders piling money into the cryptocurrency of the second largest blockchain network, Ethereum. ETH-USD breached the $300 handle and now finds support at this psychological level; we provide an outlook for the cryptocurrency going forward.
While markets across the world have shown increased volatility in response to the war of words, cryptocurrencies have remained fairly stable, incubated from any threat of a war on the Korean peninsula. The drama started on August 9, when a US report was released claiming that the North Koreans had developed a minature nuclear weapon.
Two Australian Senators from different political parties teamed up on August 8 to speak at the country’s parliament in Canberra about the promise of blockchain technology, and urged the Reserve Bank of Australia to consider a Bitcoin-esque currency.
Liberal senator Jane Hume and Sam Dastyari, a Senator from the Labor party, have pushed forward blockchain adoption ‘Down Under’ with the formation of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain group. The motivation for the group is best explained by Dastyari, who stated that when he first raised the topic of bitcoin in the Senate, one of his colleagues came to him and said: ‘I don’t get what the issue is, don’t they just melt all the coin bits they don’t use?’ The Australian Parliamentary Friends on Blockchain group will provide a much-needed forum for all things related to digital currency.
In a move viewed as highly questionable within some cryptocurrency and libertarian circles, non-profit media group WikiLeaks, founded in 2006 by Australian computer programmer Julian Assange announced that it is now accepting donations via the privacy-centric cryptocurrency zcash.
WikiLeaks recently revealed on Twitter its intent to utilize this new payment option. Zcash becomes the third cryptocurrency the organization is accepting for donations, along with bitcoin and litecoin. Exactly one week later on August 13, the organization announced it would be accepting Monero, another privacy-focused cryptocurrency.
WikiLeaks has been accepting cryptocurrencies for donations since 2011. This move was in direct reaction to efforts on the part of banking institutions to thwart the nonprofit’s revenue streams. All of this was part of a larger attempt to squelch WikiLeaks repute as a public disseminator of classified information and secrets. As a result, WikiLeaks, in an effort to do a end-around government controls, now utilizes a funding model that is primarily cryptocurrency based.
A group of elementary students, including eight-year-old computer prodigy Seth Yee, at the Wooranna Park Primary School in Australia work on programming ‘WoorannaCoin’ under the guidance of former network engineer Kieran Nolan, which teaches them methods of developing software behind Bitcoin, including the blockchain.
The family of Yee permanently relocated from Singapore to the Dandenong North suburb in Melbourne, Australia, to provide a better ecosystem for Seth, who has proven his talents in coding and software development over the past few months.
The emergence of young minds and developers who are exposed to the blockchain at an early age, including Seth, will allow the Bitcoin ecosystem and blockchain-based projects to evolve exponentially.
Microsoft announced on August 10 a new technology looking to speed up blockchain-based systems and make them more private at the same time on the enterprise level.
Blockchains have always been very good at maintaining data integrity due to every participant in a network having their own copy of the ledger to verify all transactions, but this made it difficult for large businesses with strict privacy requirements to adopt the technology.
The system is called Coco Framework, which stands for Confidential Consortium. Coco will be made ready and open source by 2018 Microsoft is claiming. Coco would make it to where companies could control who was able to see what was on the network, without slowing it down. Microsoft is planning to offer Coco for free, in hopes that customers of the framework will use their cloud services as well.