Update (May 2017): Bitcoin has recently reclaimed the $1000 price level and moved on to new price highs. As Bitcoin, blockchain technology, and altcoins such as Ethereum have surged to new levels of adoption, we revisit our original 2013 posts on Bitcoin and the rise of cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin has recently zoomed past the $200 mark and is approaching its all-time highs. What better time to update you on the developing virtual currencies trend and to offer you new price data and insight into this growing market?
Here are the latest Bitcoin charts using Mt. Gox data (denominated in US dollars) and BTC China (denominated in Chinese Yuan) via bitcoincharts.com. Note that prices are fast approaching the 2013 "pre-crash" highs.
Now that Bitcoin and virtual currencies are attracting more mainstream attention and investment (and increased public adoption), it's a great time to put this trend in context. So let's look to the infographs and interviews below to learn what's really fueling this trend.
We've already passed through 2 big waves of media-fueled hype around Bitcoin's boom-bust cycles, each accompanied by a chorus of "bubble" callers. We are now entering the third wave of attention in the last 3 years alone. For a graphical look, see the recent uptick in the Google Trends "Bitcoin" chart below.
By now, you should know that no actual Bitcoin bubble has taken place. We are seeing a (rather volatile) longer-term uptrend unfold. After all, have you ever known a bubble to bust and then recover and move on to new highs within a year's time? Incidentally, the spring 2013 "bubble" peak was almost 10 times the previous 2011 "bubble" price high.
Although much of the public still views virtual currencies as "worthless" abstractions, the early adopters have come to understand a few things that casual observers have not.
As Jeffrey Tucker points out in this April 2013 interview, Bitcoin is certainly not a Ponzi scheme - it doesn't depend on a charismatic huckster holding back money withdrawals and coaxing investors to add more money. It's not exactly a pyramid scheme, which requires an ever-growing user base to pass virtual coins on to some new group of suckers (although that point is debatable). What we're dealing with is an open-source digital currency with tightly defined rules for the expansion of future money supply. Compare that to modern fiat currencies which can be created at will, in huge amounts, by central bankers with just a few computer keystrokes.
In this latest Bitcoin interview, Jeffrey Tucker discusses virtual currencies and their role in bringing about a stateless society and greater liberty in our personal relationships and our trading relationships. At some point, Tucker theorizes, "the main point of government currencies will be just to pay your taxes." Very interesting "big picture" discussion on the growing adoption of virtual currencies and the future of commerce.
Disclosure: I own no virtual currencies at this time, but that can change at any point in the future (with or without blog updates noting it). In fact, I'd like to learn more about Bitcoin and its alternatives from a user standpoint in the future. As Jeffrey Tucker notes, those who have actually transacted in virtual currencies understand them best.
1. Bitcoin crosses $100: Encrypted currency at Apple II stage - Finance Trends.
2. How Bitcoins May Change the Global Economy - National Geographic.
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