While 2018 will be largely defined as the steep price drop from all time highs from this time last year, it's easy to overlook the significant developments that have taken place this year that will ultimately carry forward the cryptocurrency movement in the coming months and years. In this post, we take a look at the top 10 developments in the calendar year 2018 in the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency space that will propel innovation, adoption, and ultimately price in 2019 and beyond.
10). 10 Year Anniversary of Bitcoin.Org
August represented the 10 year anniversary of Bitcoin.org's registration and provides a much needed perspective of just how much growth and price volatility the space has seen and grown through over a decade. Bitcoin's code has seen over 4,400 commits from 245 contributors from all over the world. In addition to this, over 1000 translators have helped to make Bitcoin.org the site display natively to visitors by default in their own languages — now 27 different languages and growing.
9). Square's Cash App Growth as Number 1 Bitcoin App
With a simple interface and an already established userbase of millenials, Cash App was primed to launch and capture Bitcoin buying market share at the start of the year. Recent data shows that the company has fulfilled that promise, becoming the number 1 free finance app in both the iOS and Play Stores in December. Square's CEO, Jack Dorsey, says the mission is simple: "Bitcoin, for us, is not stopping at buying and selling. We do believe that this is a transformational technology for our industry, and we want to learn as quickly as possible."
8). Robinhood Adds Fee Free Crypto Buying and Selling
Robinhood adds fee free crypto trading In January of 2018, Robinhood announced a state rollout plan to offer fee free buying and selling of Bitcoin and Ethereum to it's over 3M active users on the platform. The initiative was part of Robinhood's stated mission to "democratize the financial system," according to co-founder Vlad Tenev
7). Lightning Network 10,000% Growth
At the end of 2017, transaction speed and cost was under the microscope. The Bitcoin network was not handling the exponential increase in volume it saw in conjunction with the wild run up in price in December. Fast forward almost a year later, and the scaling problems with Bitcoin have been improved significantly through the advancement of the lightning network. Lightning Network is growing at a solid pace as it sees a rise of 197 percent in its capacity close to reaching $2 million BTC at $1,808,407 as of the end of November. And in early December, the number of open channels has also continued to rise, breaking 16,500, while nodes have increased to 4300+. In January of this year, the network had an estimated 50 nodes.
6). Mt. Gox Resolution Begins
The Mt. Gox drama is still unfolding, as just this week it was revealed that embattled Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès is facing up to 10 years in prison from Japanese officials for using customer funds for his own personal use. And while the story will continue to play out beyond this year for Mt. Gox, 2018 was a critical year because the steps to resolution finally started to unfold in 2018. It was a huge cloud hanging over the head of the crypto space that up until this year was left unaddressed. The Mt. Gox resolution was a key growing pain that the crypto market had to eventually face. While the court ordered selling of huge volumes of Bitcoin as part of the judgement no doubt had a role to play in some of the earlier price dips this year, being able to move forward without the ongoing uncertainty is a big development for the crypto space going forward.
5). ICO Bubble Burst
[caption id="attachment_2526" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The Security Exchange Commission has deemed most ICOs as securities[/caption] Recent SEC regulations categorizing ICOs as another form of security has seemingly killed the concept of Initial Coin Offerings as a way for companies to raise funding from anyone and everyone in a reckless fashion. Similar to Mt. Gox above, the ICO mania and subsequent collapse was a cost the crypto space had to pay sooner or later, and many are glad that the bubble burst on ICOs now in 2018 so the space could move forward in a more credible fashion. While few ICO projects were legit, most were not as notable hedge fund manager and Bitcoin bull Mike Novogratz recently said “The ICO market is pretty much dead right now,” said Novogratz during an interview with Bloomberg. “There was a lot of fraud, and there was a lot of hype, and people lost money.”
4). The SEC Declares Bitcoin and Ethereum are NOT securities
While the ICOs being deemed securities was important, Bitcoin and Ethereum were deemed not securities and the key characteristic cited was decentralization by the SEC. William Hinman, head of the Division of Corporation Finance at the SEC, said that bitcoin is not a security because it is decentralized: there is no central party whose efforts are a key determining factor in the enterprise. In addition, ether is also not a security because the ethereum network is also decentralized. This was a major question mark heading into 2018, as declaring Bitcoin and Ethereum as securities would have been very problematic to the ecosystem and investors alike.
3). Ohio Accepts Bitcoin and Crypto for Taxes
While other states like Georgia and Arizona hinted that they would accept crypto for tax payments earlier in the year, Ohio was actually the first state to make it official in November. This was met with great response from both the crypto and blockchain supporting communities and will undoubtedly create a precedent for other states to soon follow.
2). Thousands of new businesses, industries, and towns now Accepting Bitcoin in 2018
While individual businesses continue to grow in accepting crypto for payment, as they have in past years, 2018 saw acceptance start happening in larger grouped entities all around the world. Entire towns and airports in Australia now proudly take crypto at all of their places of business. A Canadian jewelry enterprise with 28 stores now takes Bitcoin at all of them. A Hungarian Online Takeaway Ordering Service for 1,500+ Restaurants Now Accepts Bitcoin Payments. The accelerated adoption of crypto as a payment method in 2018, while largely drown out by headlines centered around price, will most certainly create momentum for the utility of crypto going forward - a key to the long term value proposition of crypto.
1). Bitcoin Futures Launch Approved by New York Stock Exchange Parent Company ICE
In October, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), announced the launch date for Bitcoin (BTC) futures on its platform Bakkt. Bakkt is a platform for trading, storing, and spending digital assets that was established earlier this year by global exchange operator ICE. In December of last year, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Operations Exchange (CBOE) launched Bitcoin futures but what makes Bakkt so significant is the partnership opportunities aligned with the initiative. The launch of Bakkt was originally slated for fall of 2018 but got pushed to early 2019. Bakkt will work with companies that include BCG, Starbucks, Microsoft and others, to create an open ecosystem that supports growing needs in the ~$270 billion digital asset marketplace. In other words, in 2019 you will be able to use cryptocurrency to buy Startbucks.