After a Slow Start, Bitcoin Will Hit Its Prime in the Years to Come

A lot of things can change over the course of nine years. In the Bitcoin world, we have seen major changes as well. While there is still work to be done, these are still the early stages of cryptocurrency in general. Adoption will only increase moving forward, as the best has yet to come.

The Bitcoin Story so Far

It has become evident Bitcoin has seen some interesting changes. Things have evolved in an interesting direction compared to nine years ago. It is safe to say the currency has come a very long way since the initial release. What started out as a niche project has turned into the world’s leading cryptocurrency. Moreover, cryptocurrency is now a phenomenon which can’t be ignored any longer.

As of last year, banks finally started showing an interest in Bitcoin. With a few institutions venturing into the world of Bitcoin futures, the tone is set. Other institutions even publicly acknowledge Bitcoin is a threat to their business model. All of this further confirms the best is yet to come for the world’s leading cryptocurrency.

At the same time, some problems have remained. Bitcoin still lacks scaling, it’s not the most technologically-advanced solution, and it is losing traction among early adopter merchants. However, that doesn’t mean people will stop using Bitcoin as a payment method all of a sudden either. In fact, it seems now is a good time to stop thinking about Bitcoin as just an investment vehicle.

What Comes Next for BTC?

The big question is how this industry will evolve over the next nine years. Right now, there is so much focus on the Bitcoin price, people tend to miss out on the big picture. Over one in two Square merchants is willing to experiment with BTC payments. That is an extremely positive signal for the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.When the merchants pay attention to BTC as a currency again, big things will happen eventually.

Moreover, the world’s leading cryptocurrency is maturing in the technology department as well. Scaling is becoming less of an issue with SegWit adoption on the rise. Add the Lightning Network to this trend, and things will only get better from here on out. Additionally, Rootstock is nearing completion. This project will bring smart contract technology to the Bitcoin network.

Additionally, we see the public perception of this cryptocurrency change as well. Adults are becoming aware how BTC can be a part of everyday life without too many problems. The global and borderless nature of this currency has a lot of potential when used properly. The industry also continues to create jobs left, right, and center, which should not be overlooked either. This is still the early stage of development, and a lot of things will change in the years to come.

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Cryptocurrency thefts are nothing new these days. A lot of hackers have successfully attacked exchanges in the past The recent Coincheck exchange shows how easy it is and launder the money accordingly. It also highlights exchanges have work to do when it comes to fighting these problems.

Coincheck Hack Laundering Issues

It is safe to say laundering cryptocurrencies still poses a problem. Especially when dealing with large amounts, there are a fair few issues to take into account. The recent Coincheck hack, for example, shows how difficult this job can be. With $500m in stolen NEM to be cleaned up, there is a lot of work to be done. Doing so on the open market is pretty much impossible without raising red flags.

Most exchanges and the NEM Foundation keep close tabs on the stole funds. Doing so should effectively prevent the hackers from laundering the stolen funds accordingly. Even so, Nikkei reports how close to $80m worth of stolen NEM has been laundered through regular exchanges. That seems pretty much impossible, given all of the flagged addresses. Moreover, it is not mentioned with exchange has been used in this regard.

Converting NEM to BTC can only be done on a handful of exchanges right now. It seems more likely the funds were funneled through the darknet in many different ways. While the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has 100 officers on the case, very little progress has been made so far. The Coincheck hack still remains a mystery which goes by unsolved. Something will need to change in this regard sooner rather than later.

Cryptocurrency Theft Still Goes Unpunished

The bigger problem is how there have been dozens of exchange hacks in the past. Very few of those cases were ever solved. Coincheck’s incident is no different in this regard, as no suspects have been identified at this point in time. There are concerns North Korean hackers may be involved, but nothing has been confirmed at this point. This situation is unacceptable, as there is no improvement in sight as of right now.

Letting hackers go by unpunished is not the right way forward. Unfortunately, there are no real repercussions for thefts like these. While exchanges have flagged the stolen funds, it seems the hackers can still convert it to other cryptocurrencies without problems. Although no evidence has been provided by Nikkei or its “unnamed sources”, there is probably some truth to these claims. After all, tracking down cryptocurrency transactions still pretty difficult for most law enforcement agencies.

How all of this will play out, remains to be seen. The Coincheck hack needs to be resolved pretty soon. Affected customers will be reimbursed very soon as well. This will happen at nearly three times the current NEM price, which is rather interesting It seems the exchange will resume its trading activities in the near future as well. These are all positive developments, but people want to know who is responsible for this hack in the first place. Right now, it seems we will never know the truth, which is a big problem.

Whenever the topic of Bitcoin regulation comes up, things often deteriorate rather quickly. That situation is no different where House Financial Services subcommittee meetings are concerned. Their most recent get-together raised a lot of questions and showed there is a massive bias toward cryptocurrencies.

The Subcommittee Hearing’s Purpose

On paper, the recent meeting of the House Financial Services subcommittee had positive intentions. The goal is to get an overview of the cryptocurrency landscape. based on that information, regulatory measures may be introduced in the future. Unfortunately, the members of this subcommittee are rather divided on cryptocurrencies altogether. It seems there is a very strong bias toward this form of money, which is not entirely surprising.

Representative Brad Sherman of California is convinced cryptocurrencies are a “crock”. He is not a fan of how people can make a lot of money from buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies. At the same time, most stock market traders make good money by sitting at home in their pajamas as well. It seems the bias against cryptocurrencies is mainly because it is cryptocurrency. An unregulated form of money that makes people millions is a thorn in the side of Sherman.

Airing these concerns during a subcommittee hearing is always positive, though. Everyone’s opinion matters when these groups get together. However, Sherman is not a big fan of the ICO business model either. In his opinion, ICOs are a “lie to the public” and a way to disguise unregulated IPOs. Again, this shows there is some need for regulation of sort sorts, albeit that is much easier said than done.

Regulation is Coming Eventually

Even though the bashing of Bitcoin is clearly visible, the regulatory discussions are far from over. Instead, we will see further subcommittee meetings to discuss the regulatory aspect of the “crypto craze”. Protecting investors is one of the main objects of this subcommittee. Things will move along rather slowly, though .The lack of understanding cryptocurrencies is a problem which is difficult to solve.

It seems a study on the ICO market will be published rather soon. Whether or not that study will be as biased as this subcommittee’s meeting, remains unknown. It is evident a ruleset needs to be put in place for both ICOs and the cryptocurrency at some point. What those rules will entail exactly, has yet to be determined. Once the report is published,  the subcommittee will “move in” to establish some new guidelines.

Luckily, not everyone is as biased to cryptocurrencies. Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota is in favor of a hands-off approach, for the time being. Finding the balance between regulation and innovation is not all that easy. A mixed bag of responses from this House Financial Services subcommittee, with conflicting interests as well. All of this seems to indicate a unified regulation of cryptocurrency and ICOs is still far away.

Depending on whom you pose the question to, Bitcoin will either rebound or meet its demise. As of right now, some analysts are convinced the Bitcoin price will drop well below $5,000 pretty soon. If Market Securities Dubai’s Paul Day is to be believed, we will hit $2,800 in the not so distant future.

The Bitcoin Price Decline So Far

Anyone who has paid attention to Bitcoin this year may have noticed a peculiar trend. After hitting nearly $20,000 in late 2017, that same Bitcoin is now worth just over $8,200. Such a price trend is not uncommon in the world of cryptocurrency, though. The Bitcoin price goes through a bearish cycle virtually every year. Each time this happens, the value retraces from an all-time high by up to 90%. Right now, we are looking at a 53% decline with little improvement in sight.

Despite this negative trend, some speculators remain optimistic. John McAfee is a permabull when it comes to the Bitcoin price. His prediction of a value of $500,000 in the next two years still holds true to this date. Whether or not such a price goal is even remotely possible, is a different matter altogether. It will depend on merchant adoption, payment integrations, and new regulatory measures being deployed all over the world.

Speaking of regulation, things remain uncertain in this regard. South Korea still keeps an open mind, which is good to see. Additionally, we see India contemplating regulation of cryptocurrencies, yet no one knows how things will play out. In the US, cryptocurrency remains largely unregulated as well. The European Central Bank has no intention of intervening in this regard, which is rather interesting. A mixed bag of regulatory measures, as one would come to expect at this point.

The Bearish Bitcoin Price Outlook

Despite there being no real reason for it, the Bitcoin price is still struggling for traction. Bloomberg analysts are concerned this may only be the beginning “of the end”. More specifically, a prediction is made which puts the Bitcoin price at $2,800 in the very near future. This trend is known as a “death cross”, although it remains to be seen how things will play out.

According to the analysts, the chart trend paints a worrisome outlook. The “bubble” of 2017 has triggered a massive sell-off, although this trend could have materialized without such a big bull run last year as well. Market Securities Dubai’s Paul Day fears a  major Bitcoin price dip is looming just ahead. That is, assuming the current trends of 2018 will continue to repeat themselves in the coming weeks and months.

This prediction does not take any of the positive Bitcoin developments into account, though. A lot of things are happening behind the scenes. All of those developments can have a positive impact on the Bitcoin price in the long run. Charting and technical analysis are valuable tools, but they only tell part of the story. For now, we have to wait and see where the Bitcoin price will head during the remainder of 2018.

The correlation between blockchain technology and video games is becoming more apparent.  Tron and BitGuild are now bringing in-game item ownership to distributed ledgers. This is a major development for the video gaming industry as a whole.

Revamping In-Game Ownership

Anyone who plays video games will know how “owning” virtual items is a double-edged sword  While it is possible to buy in-game objects with real money, selling them is often considered illegal. As such, the ownership of these items is rather one-sided. A big problem, considering players work hard to get these items and deserve to derive value from them. Right now, there is no convenient solution to achieve that goal.

BitGuild and Tron aim to change all of this in the near future. More specifically, they are working on a worldwide free content entertainment system. By using blockchain technology, they can prove item ownership and provide a new environment for financial transactions related to these digital assets. BitGuild will provide a limited-edition in-game asset set for the Tron community in the near future.

All of these assets can be purchased using Tron’s native TRX token. It is possible these assets will be made available on BitGuild’s virtual item exchange at a later date. Right now, that has not been officially confirmed just yet. The finer details of this plan have yet to be unveiled as we speak.

Will the Video Game Industry Embrace This Idea?

While building new digital assets for the gaming industry works, existing game developers may not look favorably upon this concept. Video gaming has become a multi-billion dollar industry. This includes the in-game items which players spend real-life money on. Recent games such as Star Wars: Battlefront II and Destiny 2 show the concept of loot-boxes is still viable. Despite growing backlash from gamers, this concept will not disappear anytime soon.

Additionally, there are other semi-similar blockchain ventures on the market already. BitGuild and Tron are doing things a bit differently, though. Rather than providing in-game services or currencies, this new platform will tokenize the products being offered. This gives players full control over their assets at all time. In this regard, this new venture is completely different from other blockchain projects in the space.

One thing to take note of is how this new venture seems to focus on new games altogether. There will be no real plan to bring this technology to existing video games as of right now.  Whether or not that will be a good thing, remains to be determined. Building this new “class” of games where everything is tokenized will take a lot of time. At the same time, it’s also an opportunity worth exploring.

Goldman Sachs has been a remarkable company when it comes to Bitcoin. While the bank has always been hesitant to embrace cryptocurrencies directly, their investment arm is a different matter. Circle, one of the companies funded by this bank, is now on a hiring spree. The cryptocurrency industry is creating 100 new jobs for this company alone.

The Circle Hiring Spree

It is evident cryptocurrency interest is still on the rise. Even major price drops cannot prevent people from being intrigued as to how it all works. As such, regular people and investors all want access to this new form of money. Circle is one of the go-to solutions in this regard. While initially a mobile payments platform, they expanded into cryptocurrency a little while ago.

This move is only further confirmed by the acquisition of a trading platform. Poloniex is one of the bigger cryptocurrency exchanges in the world today. However, their service has suffered from degraded performance and customer support delays. Circle wants to address those problems by hiring 100 new staffers around the globe.

For now, the company seems intent to focus on Asia. More specifically, South Korea, Japan, China, and Hong Kong are all regions of interest.  With the company having VC backing from Goldman Sachs, among others, this expansion is only the first step. It appears the company is intent on boosting global cryptocurrency use and adoption pretty quickly. That is much easier said than done, especially given the current market sentiment.

Circle Wants Bitcoin to Succeed

Although it seems as if Bitcoin directly competes with Circle’s original business model, the vision of CEO Jeremy Allaire is quite clear. In his opinion, every form of value will become a crypto token eventually. To ensure that can happen, existing cryptocurrencies need to pave the way and succeed. Right now, that process has hit a few roadblocks. Regulators are cracking down on this form of money left, right, and center.

At the same time, Circle may be the catalyst the industry has been waiting for. It is a household name in the financial sector as we speak. Their Pay, Invest, and Trade solutions are all of great interest to investors, consumers, and speculators. Adding cryptocurrency to this growing list of services seems to be a logical evolution.

For now, we have to wait and see how this new plan evolves. Circle has no intention to raise additional funds despite the recent acquisition of the Poloniex exchange. Instead, the company wants to remain profitable for the second year. Whether or not they can succeed in that mission largely depends on how the cryptocurrency markets evolve. Right now, it is not looking all that great in this regard. Anything can happen, though, and the year is far from over.

Banks are slowly changing their opinion on cryptocurrencies. A few institutions still prefer to restrict access to this new form of money altogether. Barclays, on the other hand, has entered a partnership with Coinbase. As such, the popular cryptocurrency exchange now has a UK bank account which opens up a lot of new opportunities.

Barclays and Coinbase Team Up

People who have kept an eye on the cryptocurrency may have noticed there’s a lack of GBP support. Most non-UK exchanges seemingly prefer not to deal with GBP as we speak. It seems Coinbase is taking the completely opposite approach in this regard. By partnering with Barclays, the company becomes the first major partner for a UK bank.

The goal of this partnership is straightforward. Coinbase wants to make Bitcoin more accessible to British customers. With British lenders distancing themselves from Bitcoin in the past, this is a major milestone for the cryptocurrency industry. There is another benefit to this new partnership as well, though. Coinbase now also has an e-money license in the United Kingdom. As such, they can now benefit from the Faster Payments Scheme.

Making it easier and faster to deposit and withdraw money to and from Coinbase is always a positive change. Until now, UK users had to rely on an Estonian bank for these transactions. It is far from an ideal solution. With Barclays now on board, all of those problems have become a thing of the past. For now, the Faster Payments Scheme support will only roll out to a select group of users. Eventually, this feature will become accessible to all users across the UK.

The Purpose of the e-Money License

The biggest part of this new deal is how Coinbase now has an eMoney license. Coinbase can effectively issue e-money and offer payment services within the United Kingdom. Moreover, customer funds deposited to the exchange are separate from the company’s operational funds. This is a big step forward for the company and its users as a whole.

Even if the exchange were to halt its operations, customer funds will still remain accessible. This is not the same a shaving customer funds protected by a regulator, but it is a big step in the right direction. This new feature will certainly attract a lot of positive attention in the UK and even Europe. With the exchange meeting strict rules enforced by the FCA, the exchange is now legitimized even more.

How all of this will affect the company, remains to be seen. More specifically, the exchange has seen major growth prior to this announcement. With UK Bitcoin enthusiasts soon able to benefit from an optimal service, interesting things are bound to happen. Considering how Coinbase is the first exchange to incorporate the Faster Payments Scheme, they have a competitive edge over other UK-based exchanges.

The cryptocurrency industry continues to fight an uphill battle on all fronts. Facebook officially banned ICO advertisements earlier this year. Google is now doing the same, but they are removing any advertisements related to cryptocurrency in general. This is a rather worrisome development that may hurt cryptocurrency’s chances of success in the long run.

A Rather Harsh Action by Google

The new decision by Google comes at a rather interesting time. In June of 2018, cryptocurrency-related advertisements will no longer be allowed on the platform. That is quite worrisome, as it virtually nullifies any promotion attempts related to Bitcoin and altcoins. It seems Google mainly wants to weed out ICOs, trading advice, and so forth.

Even legitimate companies will no longer be able to serve ads through Google. That is not a positive development by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of smaller cryptocurrency companies will struggle because of this missed opportunity. With Facebook also cracking down on cryptocurrencies, it has become evident these centralized technology giants will try to oppose this new form of money.

Whether or not other companies will follow this example, remains to be seen. Cryptocurrency interest is at an all-time high as we speak. Despite falling prices, the general public still wants information regarding Bitcoin and altcoins. If Google can’t help them out, people will flock to other solutions in this regard. This decision also highlights the need for decentralized ad networks.

What Comes Next for Cryptocurrency Advertising?

It is evident Google faces a lot of advertisements violating its policies. At the same time, targeting the cryptocurrency industry doesn’t appear to be the right course of action either. Removing reported ads is a system that simply works well. At the same time, advertising is the main source of revenue for Google parent company Alphabet. Removing anything potentially “dangerous” or “malicious” from their ecosystem makes a lot of sense.

For cryptocurrency companies, the news will be a big blow. At the same time, every closed door means another opportunity will come around. How this will affect the industry, remains to be determined. This advertising industry may remain off-limits until we see actual cryptocurrency regulation. Even then, companies such as Google may keep their foot down and not allow any ads related to this new form of money.

This news comes at a time during which Google Ventures invests in Currencycloud. This company is a global payments platform built on smart technology mainly focused on cross-border payments. It is rather uncanny how Alphabet cracks down on cryptocurrency advertisements, yet still invests in companies exploring this business model.

The cryptocurrency ecosystem is always changing and evolving. Some of those changes are major surprises, yet often turn out in a positive manner. The decision by Binance to launch a new decentralized exchange came as a bit of a shock. At the same time, the company acknowledges their centralized infrastructure isn’t suitable to cope with the current demand.

Binance Surprises the World

No one will deny Binance has become one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Their user base has grown significantly over the past six months. As such, their infrastructure needs to be capable of handling this increased pressure. As of right now, it seems the exchange is almost reaching its limit in this regard. While no outages are expected, it is evident things need to be taken to a whole new level pretty soon.

Doing so is not all that easy these days. For Binance, the obvious solution is to embrace a decentralized business model altogether. It seems that is their current goal. A new project, known as Binance Chain, has been announced earlier today. It is a new public blockchain to transfer and trade digital assets. A decentralized exchange model can offer a lot of advantages, including removing the need for a third party to hold and trade funds.

It is evident this news comes at a rather opportune time. With cryptocurrency exchanges getting hacked quite regularly a centralized business model is a risk rather than a convenience. Solving that problem will take some out-of-the-box thinking. Decentralized exchanges such as Binance Chain are the future for cryptocurrency. We need to get rid of these central points of failure as soon as possible.

What we Know About Binance Chain

For the time being, a lot of information surrounding Binance Chain remains shrouded in mystery. There is no launch date, no list of supported currencies, and so forth. We do know Binance’s BNB Coin will be used as “gas” to power all of the Binance Chain transactions. BNB is the “transaction fee currency” of the decentralized exchange, which will be quite interesting to keep an eye on.

The decision to launch Binance Chain makes a lot of sense given the company’s recent issue. Last week, Binance was targeted by hackers and phishers. An official investigation regarding those attempts is being conducted as we speak. A bounty of $250,000 for any information on the hackers is also in place. With Binance Chain, such attempts are no longer a cause of concern. There is no centralized infrastructure and no custodian of funds.

For the time being, it will be interesting to see how Binance Chain unfolds. With the development of this project underway, its release seems imminent. Pinpointing an exact date is pure speculation at this point, though. With more and more entities focusing on decentralized exchanges, cryptocurrency is entering a new era altogether.

Cryptocurrency mining has become a very big industry as of late. Companies from all over the world are searching for lucrative areas to mine Bitcoin. Canada has proven to be a rather promising region in this regard. The Marathon Patent Group is the latest company to set up a Bitcoin mining operation in Canada.

Marathon Patent Group Sets up Shop

It is always interesting to see how companies approach Bitcoin mining. Specific requirements need to be met before such a venture can even become profitable. In this case, one needs efficient space, enough hardware, and accessible free or low cost electricity. Finding that latter “ingredient” can prove to be rather challenging these days. One country which has an abundance of electricity right now is Canada.

The Marathon Patent Group is seemingly convinced that the region holds the key to successfully mining Bitcoin. This company purchased 1,400 Bitmain ASIC miners in early February. One week later they announced the lease of space in a data center in Quebec. It didn’t take the company that long to get everything up and running, by the look of things. More specifically, they have started mining Bitcoin since late last night.

As of right now, the mining operation consumers 2.0 MW. With this amount of electricity, the Marathon Patent Group brings 19 petahash of Bitcoin mining power to the network. It is expected additional units will be deployed in the coming months. This further confirms the Marathon Patent Group has big plans when it comes to mining Bitcoin. A somewhat surprising decision, given the increasingly volatile Bitcoin price.

Major Bitcoin Mining Plans

With the plan to expand their operation, the Marathon Patent Group set an interesting precedent. If their plan can be executed, they will bring another 2,800 Bitmain ASIC miners online. That will make this mining operation one of the biggest ones around the world. More competition in the Bitcoin mining space can only be a good thing. Right now, these efforts are mainly centralized in China.

The big question is how this mining venture will pan out. Setting up such an operation requires a massive upfront investment. If the Bitcoin price continues to decline, achieving a return on investment may take a lot longer than anticipated. That is something Marathon Patent Group will need to take into account. Assuming things play out that way, their shareholders may not be too pleased with this mining operation in Canada.

Even so, we see a renewed interest in Canada’s renewable energy sources. The country has more electricity than is being used right now. Bitcoin mining operations are more than happy to benefit from this cheap electricity. At the same time, these mining ventures create new jobs along the way. It is a win-win situation for all parties involved. That is, as long as Bitcoin mining remains profitable in the country.