Today, on October 31st, 2018 — a date that many decentralists have been clamoring for — Bitcoin, the world’s first internet-connected autonomous network, has officially reached the youthful age of 10. While Bitcoin has been lauded as a resounding success in recent years, initially, as covered in this series’ previous edition, “Bitcoin Turns 10: A Blast To The Past,” Satoshi had trouble jump starting his brainchild.
However, as Bitcoin began to garner support from the fringes of the internet in 2010, it became apparent that the concept of decentralized technologies was sticking, and across the world at that. And since then, this industry has only been on a perpetual uptrend, as blockchain technologies, the Bitcoin Network included, have continued to see adoption, maturation, and development at an unbridled rate.
2018’s Bitcoin Bear Market Is A Time To “BUIDL,” Not “HODL”
BTC made its first step into 2018 near the peak of its largest bubble to-date, nearing $20,000 on the back of widespread speculative interest from retail and institutional investors across the globe.
While BTC began a strong correctional phase in early-January, facilitating a (temporary) monumental surge in the market dominance of altcoins, many claimed that the world’s first crypto asset was still poised to be on the up-and-up, with a handful of industry commentators doubling down on their sky-high predictions.
Fundstrat Global Advisor’s Tom Lee, for one, claimed that BTC was slated to reach and surpass $25,000 by 2018’s end, referencing a number of quantitative factors to back his forecast.
Lee wasn’t alone in his cries for BTC to “moon,” with Tim Draper, the Bitcoin Foundation’s Bobby Lee, and a number of other well-respected cryptocurrency fanatics all claiming that BTC will surpass its $19,500 all-time high in due time.
As it stands, however, the foremost cryptocurrency is way off the mark, with BTC currently finding itself range-bound under $7,000, but above the $6,000 price level, indicating that “speculmania” has subsided, for now anyway.
Still, as pointed out by diehard pundits, while crypto asset values have tanked, now isn’t the time to shy away from crypto. In fact, some optimists have issued call-to-arms, enticing their fans and followers to further their involvement in the nascent cryptosphere, even if prices may be off-putting for even the most seasoned investors. Just two weeks ago, Binance’s Changpeng Zhao took to Twitter to write:
“Blockchain/crypto is not going away. Then take a 5-10 year horizon, and think about where we will be. BUIDL/HODL to that!”
In context, what Zhao seems to be touching on is the fact that prices don’t accurately reflect the development of the underlying infrastructure and base-layer applications that will support BTC over the long-haul. Litecoin’s Charlie Lee has also tangoed with this form of sentiment in the past, claiming:
“[Now,] with prices currently depressed, it’s a good time for people to sit down and have their head down and actually working to get stuff done.”
In the past few months alone, in terms of technological developments, Bitcoin has seen a rapidly growing Lightning Network, an uptick in adoption for Segwit-enabled addresses, and Blockstream’s recent release of the Liquid Network, which aims to accelerate BTC transactions and to introduce a digital asset issuance system on Bitcoin’s blockchain. While these three technological improvements are inherently unique, at their core, the Lightning Network, Liquid Network, and Segwit protocols have only been activated to better the user experience.
Although Bitcoin’s technological advancements are already something to be touted, this ecosystem’s institutional sub-sector has arguably seen a larger growth cycle.
In the past year, America’s foremost institutions, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs have all expressed interest in eventually offering Bitcoin-centric investment vehicles, solutions or platforms, which may bring crypto assets and blockchain technologies to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of wide-eyed investors.
Just recently, marking one of the biggest institutional forays into crypto to-date, Boston-based Fidelity Investments established the fittingly-named Fidelity Digital Asset Services (FDAS), a new entity solely focused on offering products that pertain to digital assets, like BTC and Ether. FDAS, which is headed by Tom Jessop, is aiming to offer top-notch cryptocurrency custody and trade execution for Fidelity’ 13,000 institutional clients.
TD Ameritrade has also entered the cryptocurrency realm, announcing in early-October that it had invested an undisclosed sum into ErisX, an up and coming crypto-focused platform that has already been backed by DRW, Virtu Financial, and CBOE Global Markets. Eventually, if regulators give ErisX a stamp of approval, the platform intends to unveil spot trading and physically-delivered futures support for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
Last but not least, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) joined hands with Microsoft, Starbucks, Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital, and a dozen other forward-thinking corporations to launch Bakkt, which intends to introduce a physically-backed BTC futures contract by December 12th, which is still pending approval from the U.S. Commodities Trade Futures Commission (CFTC). Following its futures launch, Bakkt intends to broaden its horizons by establishing a “scalable on-ramp for institutional, merchant and consumer participation in digital assets by promoting greater efficiency, security, and utility.”
It would be remiss to note that the aforementioned developments are just the tip of the “positive crypto news iceberg.” So make no mistake, despite the dismal performance of BTC in recent months, this industry is far from dead in the water.
“Institutions Are An Interim Step” — Global Bitcoin Adoption Next
While the arrival of institutions is currently welcomed and encouraged, it is important to note that Bitcoin’s raison d’être was to disassociate the global financial ecosystem with centralized intermediaries, as made apparent by the anti-establishment message that Satoshi embedded in Bitcoin’s Genesis Block. Speaking with CNBC Africa’s Ran NeuNer, who hosts the network’s “Crypto Trader” show, American venture capitalist Tim Draper touched on this theme.
Keeping with the narrative that Bitcoin, along with many other crypto assets aren’t (or shouldn’t be) inherently linked to centralized/traditionalistic institutions, San Francisco-based Draper noted:
“[Bitcoin] is free and open and honest. It’s an honest currency and so people are going to want to use it in that way. I think that these [institutional platforms] are interim steps or bridges towards a world where we are watching borders dissolve and the world opening up.”
Let his words sink in for a second… While it would be wrong to automatically discount an institution’s foray into crypto, as it stands, many speculators and optimists in this industry have clung to institutional news like their lives, or investments, in this case, were dependent on it. But like what was aforementioned, Satoshi Nakamoto’s concept for Bitcoin was born out of a strong aversion to centralized systems, and everything (and everyone) that they still stand for today.
So eventually, consumers will need to find a way to disassociate themselves with the powers that be. To be frank, the road to global disinter-mediation isn’t going to be easy, but, it is far from impossible.
Many fail to recall that a majority of Bitcoin’s first decade of growth was solely catalyzed by retail investors and the immense power that consumers hold, so who’s to say that it won’t happen again… right?
And in spite the cries that Bitcoin’s dominance is on the verge of plummeting to relative obscurity, it is clear that the “OG” cryptocurrency still holds value today, even in a market where buzzwords, like “smart contracts”, “transactions per second”, “immutability”, are thrown around like salt on McDonald’s fries. Speaking on Cheddar’s “The Crypto Craze” show, Stephen Pair, CEO of BitPay, expressed his sentiment that Bitcoin is here to stay, noting:
“Bitcoin is still our #1 blockchain [here at BitPay]… [Even] with all the innovation going around alternative blockchains, we remain bullish on Bitcoin, as it is the most stable and most well-understood system that people can use.”
In short, while Bitcoin’s long-term fate has yet to be fully defined, the crypto asset and its supportive ecosystem isn’t going anywhere, and in fact, may eventually grow to replace traditionalistic systems, which are already on their way out.
Happy Birthday, Bitcoin!
Previously: Bitcoin Turns Ten: A Blast To The Past Featured Image from Shutterstock