This year was immense for Bitcoin, and all fields related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. This was the year where the terms "Bitcoin" and "cryptocurrency" became ubiquitous, and were thrust to the forefront of everything from politics to mainstream media, and about everything in between. What's more, you know you've really made it when the Scrabble and Merriam-Webster Dictionary officially add you to their dictionaries!; does Bitcoin count as a proper noun? We all recall that the turn of the year began with excitement from the old-coiners, finally seeing their dream of a global currency begin to come to fruition and gaining mass-adoption. Nipping at the heels of the old-coiners were hungry new-coiners, not wanting to miss out on the unprecedented, monumental growth in value of this thing called Bitcoin. When easy opportunities to "cash in" and "score big" present themselves, so do bad actors, with less than wholesome intentions, so on went the faucet, pouring countless other tokens and 'currencies' into the crypto-market, and we saw ourselves a bit of a crypto-bubble beginning to form. All the way up to the beginning of 2018, there was nothing but growth, green on our market charts, and constant news of 'big things happening with bitcoin, ether, alt-coins and blockchain'. It all seemed unsustainable and just too good to be true, and for most, it was.
January, the time when most no-coiners decided to jump into the Bitcoin game, saw prices fall quickly, down around 50%. The idea of what Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies actually are, how they function and what drives their success was lost on most new investors. In all likeliness, greed is what drove most to late-2017 and early 2018 investing, often doing so with more than one could afford to lose. With unrealistic expectations and irresponsible investing having taken place, major sell-offs were occuring and a major bursting price bubble was sure to make many, well, a bit salty to say the least. Oh ye faithful old-coiners, who quickly became revered by friends and family for their early discovery of Bitcoin, were now facing resentment, and impossible-to-answer questions about, "why is it going down?", "should I sell", "why'd I believe you and buy into this Bitcoin business, you drink Keystone"...oh, what fun. Needless to say, the mass sell-offs, from those unwilling to treat Bitcoin as a true investment, or believe in its superior abilities, had begun, and the FUD-gates were open.
Traditional investors, entrepreneurs and political figures were quick to dismiss, and revel in the tumbling market, not shy to condescend and chortle all the way. Bitcoin, like Pete Davidson, got dumped hard by the hot chick, and the spotlight was fleeting; its status as a Zach Morris, was fast becoming more of a Meg Griffin, in the eyes of the fearful public. Though February brought in promise, from Arizona proposing a bill to accept Bitcoin for income tax payments, Bitcoin and Ether becoming the fastest growing source for charitable donations, the negativity, despair and misinformation proved too much for most to stay bullish on the outlook of Bitcoin, and the FUD persisted.
The proliferation of alt-coins/ICO (Initial Coin Offering)s, saw pie-in-the-sky promises of massive gains, or even being "the new Bitcoin", and threw a wrench in the works for gaining trust from the public. ICOs are tokenized assets of a business, similar to how stocks function, and allow for companies to do a great deal of fundraising, with little to no regulatory oversight. Many ICOs came and went; some outright failed, some were literal scams, and others did not fully deliver on the utility they had promised. With all of this hullabaloo, credit card providers, like Citigroup, JPMorgan/Chase and Bank of America, began disallowing the use of their credit cards to purchase Bitcoin or other cryptos from exchanges, regarding the volatility and risk related to the crypto markets. Following suit, social media (Facebook, Twitter) and search engines like Google and Yahoo, banned all ads with any relation to Bitcoin or cryptos, from their platforms. Yet, big things were still happening, despite all the push-back; Grayscale listed their Bitcoin trust (GBTC) on the Nasdaq exchange, and Japan's Chubu Electric Power Co. and Nayuta (an IoT company) began testing the use of the Lightning Network as a payment processor for charging electric vehicles.
The middle part of the year saw more amazing developments, the Lightning Network continued making major developments, demonstrating how business and customer transactions could be instant and cheap. Major expansions of companies, like Bitmain, were creating new jobs around the world, and Jack Dorsey successfully (in beta) hybridized Square's Cash Card to functionally spend both fiat and crypto; what progress! However, yet again, the FUD kept a rollin', all year long. Next to bash Bitcoin came from Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. Buffett, a widely respected financial "genius", held nothing back when commenting about his disdain and lack of confidence in Bitcoin, telling all to steer clear. Munger went further to call it "rat poison squared", yeesh, what a blow. And again, more new-coin-ship-jumpers opted out. Still, old-coiners remained stoic, continuing to remind the 'chicken littles' that the sky is not falling, and 'we've seen this before'. Remember, Bitcoin had already been declared "DEAD" over 200 times before the start of 2018.
Winding down to the end of the year, it seemed as though everyone but the old-coiners and developers had had it, they'd all but abandoned their hope for Bitcoin, and Bitcoin was still seeing continual bearish movement on the market. Companies like Expedia, Microsoft, and even Reddit (et tu?) abandoned their acceptance of Bitcoin for their services; it seemed, at least on the surface, that Bitcoin was becoming some forsaken pariah to institutions. This was not the case however. Long-supportive companies, like Overstock.com, reported that they preferred accepting Bitcoin and Ether, over credit cards. Overstock.com board member, Jonathan Johnson had this to say:
“We pay a processing fee for credit cards, and we employ about 40 people in our fraud department. That’s a cost of doing business with credit cards. When we take cryptocurrency, we have a very small transaction fee with Coinbase, much smaller than our credit card processing fee, and we have no fraud prevention department. It’s like a cash transaction. For us, that is a much cheaper way of doing business.”
CheapAir.com also made some major moves regarding their preferred payment platform. Having previously used the controversial BitPay to process Bitcoin payments, they decided to remove themselves from BitPay's limiting and pricey BIP70 protocol, opting for the more highly-regarded, open-sourced and free, BTC Pay. Despite the mass-media's sentiments and uninformed opinions from the public, Bitcoin had plenty of support, and was doing things in the background, as it had been all along, before all the public scrutiny.
For some, a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel seemed to exist in the form of gaining government regulation, and an improvement to the volatility and trust related to crypto-markets and exchanges. Leading the march toward this 'light' have been the potential approval by the SEC for proposed Bitcoin ETF (exchange traded funds)s. With failed attempts from the likes of Gemini exchange's Winklevoss twins, and the continual SEC postponement of the more robust, VanEck/SolidX ETF proposal, faith in the legitimacy of Bitcoin was further dwindling for the fence-sitters. Recognizing the potential negative effects of the SEC's unwillingness to approve an ETF, SEC commissioner, Hester Pierce, made a public statement of dissent, in regard to the commission's majority decision. She expressed:
“More generally, the Commission’s interpretation and application of the statutory standard sends a strong signal that innovation is unwelcome in our markets, a signal that may have effects far beyond the fate of bitcoin ETPs [ETFs].”
February 16 will prove to be final deadline for an official SEC determination for VanEck/SolidX. Though there are skeptics, many believe that the addition of pro-crypto, Elad Roisman, to the commision, points to some legitimized optimism towards SEC approval of the ETF. It is a commonly shared belief by bulls that being regulated by the SEC will instill greater confidence from larger institutional investors, and further launch Bitcoin to the proverbial moon.
Others point to the exciting launch of Bakkt, powered by the likes of ICE (Intercontinental Exchange) (you know, the parent company of the NYSE!), Starbucks and Microsoft. Bakkts is planning to use it's far-reaching and interdisciplinary assets by, "building an open, seamless global network to enable you to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets simply, safely and efficiently." Originally planning to launch in December of this year, Bakkt is now aiming to green light operations by January of 2019, and big things are expected to come from the cooperation of such powerful entities. It has been stated that Starbucks will likely be the initial arm for exploring Bitcoin acceptance in the retail sector, ICE will be handling physically-delivered Bitcoin futures and Microsoft, presumably, spearheading technological applications.
Now, 10 years old, and growing at a rate that may entice the likes of Francis Ford Coppola to cast Robin Williams in the lead role of "Bitcoin", the growing pains are still being felt by all involved parties. The end of this year saw Bitcoin reach a price bottom which had not been seen since August 2017, proving the final nail in the coffin for many remaining hemming and hawing potential investors. Bitcoin again, for the 336th time, had been declared dead. Put your bagpipes down, because despite the FUD, and seemingly fatal news we see in mainstream media, there is still a great deal of life, as there always has been.
The resiliency of Bitcoin, and the tech which both drives its development and facilitates its utility, have remained. Bitcoin is not a company, it cannot file for Chapter 11, and it can not be sold away, or go out of business. As the clichés have stated countless times, Bitcoin is owned by you, and is without borders, and is trustless, and is fungible, and is secure, and is powerful, and is scalable, and is practical and, well, despite all the mortal declarations, Bitcoin just IS, and will continue to BE. It's living and breathing, it's growing, changing and adapting, and its applicability is ever evolving. Revolutionary, complex and utterly new is Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. These implemented ideas seek to offer improved alternatives, and essentially strike up a coup, to a broken system, controlled by many powerful governments and special interests. It would be ridiculous and unfair to assume that the paradigm shift would occur overnight, or even in 10 short years.
For those who choose not to care, or are not exposed to what's happening behind the curtain, we understand, you're not ready to love this free-spirited muse yet; that love is not for the faint of heart or the thin of skin. For those of us steadfast, excited, motivated and fascinated by what we know is happening behind the curtain, our adoration is strong, undaunted and unlike anything we've experienced in this most recent generation. We know and love Bitcoin for all its ups and downs, and for keeping us on our toes, and making us think hard and often, and reminding us that we can't totally predict what will happen from day to day, but we're committed, we're ride or die. Bitcoin tests us; our faith, our grasp, and our trust that big things are developing, much of which we can see. 2018 was a trying year, and many of us have been through a lot on this love rollercoaster, but we are passionate about it, we're part of something pure and integral and we're proud to be part of such a thing.
We can't wait to see where we end up in this coming 2019, we can't predict anything specific, but we can guarantee that it's going to be another cathartic and wild experience. Thank you Bitcoin for just BEING, and in the words of Fat Boy Slim, I leave you with:
We've come a long long way together
Through the hard times and the good
I have to celebrate you baby
I have to praise you like I should
Happy Holidays and have a wonderful New Year, from all of us at Coin Ninja. We hope you'll ride the rollercoaster with us and follow us on our own journey to build a better world with Bitcoin.