As of the time of writing, bitcoin has died 309 times. Yet, with every new obituary eulogizing the world’s number one cryptocurrency, bitcoin seems to gather a hidden strength, accumulating its forces for the next move.
Since its inception in 2009, bitcoin has had several significant downturns similar to, and in a few cases, worse than the current one. But, if we zoom out on the charts a smidge and remember that price doesn’t tell the whole story, then another — and more important — story begins to take shape.
Bitcoin’s parabolic rise to just a hair under $20,000 catapulted it into the public eye in a way that no crypto-speculator could have predicted. Major media outlets around the world such as CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal had around-the-clock coverage of bitcoin’s daily price swings as well as stories covering the lives of blockchain converts.
Yes, bitcoin fell — hard. But, what of the exposure? What of the new generation of developers brought into the fold, the exponential advances in the underlying technology, and what of the actual *adoption* of the currency itself? After investigating the answers to these questions, you just may find that bitcoin is in fact very much alive, and has never been more so.
Major financial players Goldman Sachs and J.P Morgan haven’t been shy about voicing their negative feelings toward bitcoin. Last year, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon famously called bitcoin a “fraud” and threatened to fire any employee “stupid” enough to trade it.
Similarly, Goldman Sachs previously opined that bitcoin was not a currency at all and that banks would never consider touching it due to its volatility.
Fast forward to 2018, and we have seen both institutions along with many others take a screeching U-turn on those views. Goldman Sachs opened the institutional floodgate in Q2 2018 with their announcement that they were making preparations toward opening a cryptocurrency trading desk with custodial options. It was an about-face seen ’round the world, and one that still resounds in the market today.
Since then, several other market-makers have come forward with imminent plans for bitcoin involvement. Nasdaq, Morgan Stanley, and the New York Stock Exchange all stepped into the light with various iterations of trading desks, digital asset exchanges, and custodial services.
Virgin Galactic, Expedia, Microsoft, Overstock, Shopify, CheapAir and Peach Airline are a few notable examples of companies who recognize bitcoin as a legitimate currency. With wider institutional and regulatory acceptance, the number of companies who view accepting bitcoin as payment is exponential.
While the largest financial institutions have rolled out the welcome mat to bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general, the public that drove last year’s bitcoin buying frenzy has been notably absent.
That is, until, you begin to ask around.
Gone are the days when the first attachment people made to bitcoin was the Silk Road and other darknet markets. Talk of terrorists using bitcoin has also subsided, thankfully. What caused this perspective shift amongst the populace?
Here we have two charts — one is bitcoin’s market capitalization, and the other is Google’s search analytics for “bitcoin” during the same period. As the web’s chatter about bitcoin grew, so did its price. Put another way — as the world became more *aware* of bitcoin, more started buying.
And so it went, though we all know how this particular buying spree ended up. Apart from the short-term losses incurred by those who heaped money aboard the moon-bound bitcoin rocket, the spread of cultural awareness surrounding our precious bitcoin has reached high saturation levels.
Nowadays, if you query a stranger on the street about bitcoin, it’s likely that you’ll hear about crashing prices and not illicit online purchases. In the popular psyche, bitcoin has gone from shady, strange internet money to a real tradable asset that everyone is losing money on.
A major sign of the times in this regard is the recent declaration that bitcoin is Sharia Law compliant. Islam, the world’s fastest growing religion, has a population approaching 2 billion. While bitcoin has yet to catch on in the Islamic world, one can speculate that it may only be a matter of time.
At this point, the groundwork for bitcoin’s next move is being laid. With wider cultural acceptance and ubiquity, perhaps the gap between “I’ve heard of bitcoin” and “I’m using it” will shorten.
Governments and Regulatory Bodies
Despite the shudders that terms like “regulatory bodies” inspire when uttered, they absolutely should not be ignored. Thankfully, in the eyes of regulators from around the world, the mantra that’s been embraced in regards to bitcoin is *do no harm*.
The *do no harm* attitude toward bitcoin gives it the breathing room it needs to flourish while governing bodies take the time to draw up full regulations that protect buyers from fraudulent activities and hackers.
Switzerland, Japan, and global regulatory institutions such as the IMF view bitcoin as legal tender. The USA, Australia, New Zealand, UK, India, Singapore, Russia, South Korea, and the EU have clouded perspectives regarding the legal standing of the currency itself, but view cryptocurrency exchanges with legal tenderness.
Other markets remain entirely untapped, with the entire African continent notably missing from regulatory considerations as well as most of Latin America.
Bitcoin: Alive and Well
Significant changes are taking shape under bitcoin’s hood as well. The Lightning Network, a second-layer scaling protocol designed to enable instant and cheap bitcoin transactions, was launched on a closed test-network earlier this year and is slated for release *soon*.
What does all of this mean for bitcoin? That much is anyone’s guess, although we can certainly rule one thing out: Bitcoin certainly isn’t dead, in fact, it’s very much alive — and, the future looks bright.