Friday 3 January 2014

2013, the Rise and Rise of Bitcoin, is the bitcoin bubble growing too big to fail?

Bitcoin is an electronic digital currency which was introduced in 2009. Its a peer-to-peer payment system which has still not been fully accepted into the mainstream economy but is gaining ground in leaps and bounds everyday. It was started by developer Satoshi Nakamoto as the first cryptocurrency since it uses cryptography to control money as a means to purchase products and services. Peer-to-peer transactions take place through signing payment messages digitally with subsequent verification and timestamping. The machines where these bitcoins get signed are known as miners and they get rewarded with fees and new bitcoins pertaining to each transaction. In China, bitcoins cannot be exchanged for physical currency while in United States, bitcoin has seen widespread acceptance. Bitcoins like any other currency are prone to electronic theft but these risks can be mitigated through offline minting and storage of digital keys. Various vendors like Reddit and Virgin Galactic now accept bitcoins since merchant transaction fees are lower as compared to credit card processing fees.

2013, the Rise and Rise of Bitcoin, is the bitcoin bubble growing too big to fail?

2013 - The Incredible year for Bitcoins

2013 has seen a dramatic increase in bitcoin transactions as well as acceptance by many vendors. The year has seen a thriving price rise of bitcoins from a measly $13 to an astonishingly high $700 and above.

The following are month-to-month highlights for bitcoin's developing market through the year 2013:

- It gets noted by Bloomberg that the price of Bitcoin tripled in the year 2012.
- Bitpay and Butterfly Labs fund Bitcoin with $13000 to setup a booth at Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The Verge (www.theverge.com) puts up an article saying "The underground currency goes mainstream at the biggest tech show in the nation" here:
The Verge Bitcoin article
Price at start of January: $15
Price at end of January: $21.40

- Bitcoin's price hits its peak. Its value becomes even higher than what existed pre-2011 crash.
- Reddit allows users to buy gold from bitcoin currency.
- Kim Dotcom announces that it will accept bitcoins on its encrypted storage site called Mega.
Price at start of February: $20.60
Price at end of February: $33

- Bitcoin attains a billion dollar market cap.
- The U.S. Department of Treasury issues a statement telling exchangers to register with FinCEN before engaging in bitcoin transactions. A federal agency calls the Bitcoin legal sending Bitcoin believers into frenzy but banks deny working with Bitcoin businesses citing enhanced security regulation as the reason.
- Cyprus announces that it would seize parts of people's accounts to pay off rising debts. In response, Bitcoin rises with the speculation that people from Cyprus and other European countries would reach for bitcoin currency to safeguard their income from government regulations.
- Researchers at John Hopkins University bring to fore Zerocoin to make bitcoin transactions more anonymous and hidden from the entire network.
Price at start of March: $33.50
Price at end of March: $93

- Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, famous as villains in Facebook movie say they possess 1% of total bitcoins with themselves.
- Bitcoin start-ups start getting funded by major venture capitalists. The Winklevii gives BitInstant $1.5 million. BitInstant is a place to buy Bitcoin. OpenCoin, an open exchange for all forms of electronic currency lands $2 million through funding by venture capitalists again. Bitcoin wallent Coinbase will announce the following month that it receives $5 million.
- A journalist of repute, working with Slate announces that he made $152 through bitcoin exchange.
Price at start of April: $94
Price at end of April: $145

- In San Francisco, an insane individual decides to spend an entire week on Bitcoin only.
- Seattle-based Coinlab sues Japan-based Mt. Gox for $75 million in damages claiming breach of contract by the latter. Mt. Gox is supposed to be the world's largest Bitcoin exchange.
- The federal department seizes American bank accounts of Mt. Gox believing that Mt. Gox violates policies and operates without getting properly licensed with FinCEN.
- The Bitcoin 2013 conference sees participation of people from all walks of life. 
- The federal department brings down the curtain on Liberty Reserve. They say that the centralized online payment system was used to fund drug trading, child pornography and terrorism. Users of bitcoins see this as a warning.
- Mt. Gox announces that people doing bitcoin transactions would need to provide government id in order to comply with rules of federal department. This would reduce money laundering through Bitcoin.
- Speculations regarding the identity of Bitcoin developer Satoshi Nakamoto continue.
Price at start of May: $137
Price at end of May: $129

- Congress tax man GAO informs IRS to pay heed to and tax Bitcoin.
- Austin and Beccy Craig announce they will survive on Bitcoin alone for three months just before getting married in Utah.
- Bitcoin comes under the scanner of state regulatory authorities. In California, a cease-and-desist order is passed to the Bitcoin Foundation asking it to get licensed for exchanging money in the state. The Foundation denies it exchanges money.
- Bitcoins help buy a baby.
- A survey shows that 25% people know and have heard of Bitcoin.
Price at start of June: $129.50
Price at end of June: $95

- The Winklevii seek SEC approval for a Bitcoin exchange traded fund. Their main hope is that it would allow Wall Street to put its money in the bitcoin exchange.
- Its reported that Thailand bans Bitcoin. However, the rumours seem to be overrated and not completely true.
- A Texas citizen is charged with running a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme by SEC.
- SatoshiDice, a Bitcoin gambling site is sold to an anonymous buyer for 126,315 bitcoins (approximately $11.4 million at that time)
Price at start of July: $97.50
Price at end of July: $110

- A University of Florida professor reports in Politico's front page that Bitcoin could become a haven for tax evaders
- Germany accepts Bitcoin and say they will impose tax regulations on it.
- All bitcoin miners and users are summoned to court by New York's state financial regulator. They also announce all digital currency companies would need to procure "Bitlicenses."
- Bitcoin crimes are reported at a few places. A flaw in Android OS causes Bitcoin thefts.
- The Bitcoin ticker XBT is seen on Bloomberg terminals meaning it was not long before traders would seek to trade bitcoins.
Price at start of August: $106
Price at end of August: $147

- SecondMarket, the place where Facebook and Twitter shares were traded before they went public announces it would let investors bet on Bitcoin.
- China becomes a hub for Bitcoin mining and trading. Lightspeed funds Shanghai-based exchange BTC China with $5 million. BTC China will become the largest exchange in the world in two months.
- A UK escort service says it will accept bitcoins.  
Price at start of September: $141
Price at end of Sptember: $144

- The feds take down online drug market Silk Road which used Bitcoins in abundance. FBI seizes 26,000 coins from the site and 144,000 coins ($20 million) from the creator of Silk Road, Dread Pirate Roberts. After falling briefly, Bitcoin prices recover soon as investors cheer to note that an illegal Bitcoin usage has been terminated.
- Baidu, considered to be China's Google starts accepting Bitcoins for its security services.
-  Cody Wilson, famous for 3-d gun printing says that Dark Wallet, willing to launch in 2014 is seeking crowd-funding through the website Indiegogo to conceal Bitcoin transactions.
- In Vancouver, the first Bitcoin ATM gets opened.
- The Bitcoin newlywed couple goes for a trip around the world and pays everything in Bitcoins.
Price at start of October: $144
Price at end of October: $209

- The Federal Reserve issues a primer quoting Bitcoin as a "Small Phenomenon but Growing."
- $1.2 million worth of bitcoins are stolen from wallet service Inputs.io
- The U.S. Senate holds Bitcoin hearings to ascertain policies, threats and guidelines. The FBI says it formed "Virtual Currency Emerging Threats Working Group" in 2012 which included most federal agencies but these agencies claim that Bitcoin is under control. After the closure of Liberty Reserve and fears of Bitcoin being termed illegal a few months earlier, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says Bitcoin holds long term promise. As a result Bitcoin soars and reaches $1000.
- Famous billionaire Richard Branson announces that people can use Bitcoins to pay for going to space.
- Roger Ver's prediction about Bitcoin outperforming gold soon goes wrong by two months and he loses a best of 1,000 bitcoins ($1 million), which he donates to a nonprofit organization.
- Hong Kong Bitcoin exchange falters and shuts down drowning $4 million worth of investors' funds.
- A UK tech guy mistakenly throws his hard drive containing 7,500 bitcoins into a garbage bin.
- Stockholm-based KnC Miner sells high-powered mining machines woth a staggering $8 million within 24 hours.
Price at start of November: $144
Price at end of November: $1220

- Andreesen Horowitz gives $25 million dollars to Coinbase to make it the highest venture-funded Bitcoin start-up.
- Bank of America puts a price target on Bitcoin.
- China stops trading of Bitcoin for real world money. With payment companies not allowed to trade Bitcoin for yuan, the prices fall sharply.
- $220 million worth of Bitcoin stolen from drug bazaar Sheep Marketplace.
- Overstock's CEO announces that his company will start accepting Bitcoin in 2014.
- Bitcoin is declared evil by Paul Krugman.
- By the end of the year, 42% people are aware of the existence of Bitcoin.
Price at start of December: $1200
Price at end of December: $730

That was the monthly wrap-up of Bitcoin developments in 2013. In all, it has been a fabulous year for Bitcoin barring minor hiccups. Due to the low transaction fees, companies are making money by exchanging this digital currency for real world dollars causing it to gain momentum all the time. Whether this Bitcoin bubble is going to continue or burst remains to be seen as we start this new year. 

comboupdates foresees a major shakeup in the value of Bitcoin in the coming months of 2014 due to the various actions being initiated by governments across the world.  The United States Federal Reserve is also expected to come out with clear cut policy guidelines in respect of various virtual currencies around the world in the month of May 2014.  So if you are holding or hoarding bitcoins, it may be proper to make hay while the sun is shining on Bitcoin!

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