The World Bank Launches Blockchain Lab to End World Poverty

The world’s biggest international financial institution that provides financial and technical assistance has launched a blockchain lab aimed at improving life in developing nations.

Established in 1944, the World Bank Group is located in Washington, D.C., with more than 10,000 employees worldwide in over 120 countries.

With more than one billion people living in poverty worldwide in addition to inequality rising in many developing nations, the World Bank set itself two goals to be reached by 2030:

  1. End extreme poverty by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.90 a day to no more than 3 percent; and
  1. Promote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40 percent for every country.

Speaking at George Washington University, in 2013, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank Group President, said that extreme poverty was ‘the defining moral issue of our time. As a result, it was imperative that the bank takes bold steps and not be afraid of taking ‘smart risks’ that would support projects that could potentially change a country or region.

So much so, that the World Bank has now turned its attention to the blockchain to pilot projects that could improve social outcomes and governance in developing nations.

In a report from CoinDesk, Denis Robitaille, vice president and chief information officer of the World Bank’s technology division, explained that the blockchain lab would work with its technology and non-profit partners to develop solutions that could be utilised. This could mean that blockchain use cases will soon be seen among the bank’s more than 80 client countries.

It is envisaged that through the distributed ledger technology, eliminating poverty and improving people’s way of life will be achieved. Not only that, but as the blockchain is an immutable ledger, it is hoped that the technology will help nations to be more trustful with institutions again.

Blockchain Risks

And yet, while there are certainly benefits from the technology, there are risks to also take into account. Namely, energy and environmental consumption issues.

Randeep Sudan, a digital strategy and government analytics advisor at the World Bank, noted the high amount of electricity needed for bitcoin mining and that any plans with the blockchain should be taken cautiously.

Sudan said:

“These are hugely energy intensive efforts. Obviously, one would have to think about the implications as far as energy consumption as we pursue this technology.”

The UN and the Blockchain

The World Bank joins the likes of the United Nations which is also looking into the potential that the blockchain could have on the planet.

Just recently, it was reported that the UN was considering the technology as a way to monitor and fight climate change. At a meeting in May, experts at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, explained that the distributed ledger could ‘play a major role in tackling climate change.’

Alexandre Gellert Paris, associate programme officer at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said:

“As countries, regions, cities and businesses work to rapidly implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement, they need to make use of all innovative and cutting-edge technologies available. Blockchain could contribute to greater stakeholder involvement, transparency and engagement and help bring trust and further innovative solutions in the fight against climate change, leading to enhanced climate actions.”

Even though the blockchain is being employed in many use cases, support from the UN indicates the impact it is having and how it could be used to monitor carbon asset transactions and clean energy trading in the future.

As climate change continues to impact our lives with debates circulating it continuing to divide people’s opinion, the blockchain could be the ideal solution.

Of course, before it can reach this stage, more research will need to be undertaken in a technology that is, essentially, still developing.

Humanitarian Aid Calls for the Blockchain

Similar to the World Bank, the UN has also set itself several goals that it aims to reach by 2030. Setting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN hopes to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all within the next 13 years. One of which is its Zero Hunger goal.

With such a mammoth task ahead of it, the UN is going to need all the help and assistance it can get if it wants to meet its goals by 2030.

What better way to do this, then, then by using an innovative technology designed to make the tracking and tracing of things easy?

At the end of May, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it had completed its trial that sent money directly to 10,000 Syrian refugees. The success of the trial indicated the impact the technology can have and the significant number of people is can help. By providing digital currency-based vouchers, the refugees were then able to redeem them at markets involved in the trial.

With the completion of the trial the WFP is planning to extend the number of refugees it can reach to 100,000 by August 2017. By the end of the year, the agency hopes to reach the entire Jordanian population.

While these are just a few use cases of the blockchain within major agencies, they highlight the growth the technology is making and how it’s not simply being used within finance anymore.

A lot can happen in the next 13 years and many improvements and advancements can be achieved. It is hoped that within that time, the World Bank and the UN are able to meet their goals, which will improve the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Even though the blockchain is still in the early stages of its development, it is already showing that it has the potential to transform our day-to-day lives. Many organisations just need to be brave and bold enough to research it, which could end up helping to feed millions, cut carbon emissions and protect our planet for future generations to enjoy.

Where we’ll be in 13 years is anyone’s guess, but hopefully we’ll be far better off than what we are now and that goals set have been reached.

Featured image from Flickr via Sean Ellis.

Artist’s Impression of Bitcoin Paper Bills Illustrates a Beautiful Currency

Bitcoin as we know it doesn’t exist in a paper form, which is one of the reasons why it’s so popular, but there are many who may have wondered what bitcoin paper bills would look like if it was in circulation.

Well now, we can have some idea of what they may look like.

In a project called Block Bills, Los Angeles-based artist Matthias Dörfelt has created visual representations of bitcoin paper bills by choosing, at random, 64 blocks on the bitcoin blockchain, by picking each of the block’s unique hash, which helps to identify it.

Each bitcoin paper bill has been designed to colourfully represent different fundamentals linked to the digital currency.

In the top right-hand corner, there is a number that represents the transfer volume, which replaces the typical denoting figure that is seen on fiat currencies. Furthermore, where a signature from the treasurer in any given country is found, there is the name Satoshi, the inventor of bitcoin, which is handwritten by Dörfelt.

Numbers along the bottom right represent the timestamp when the bitcoin was mined while the dots on the left indicate a history of all the transactions. Not only that, but the colours of each bitcoin paper bill represents a different volume: the lighter the bill, the lower the volume while a darker colour indicates a high volume.

Lastly, each bill has in its centre a blurred image that could represent a human being. The idea here, according to the artist, was to produce the visual representation of privacy and anonymity that bitcoin delivers.

He said:

“In some way, the project is a loose data visualisation, but I mainly wanted to make the bills be interesting on their own as artworks.”

While the creation of the bitcoin paper bills may have only been for artistic reasons, it does help present the digital currency in a different light. Not only that, but it makes it more accessible to people and gives bitcoin more weight that makes it easier to understand.

For many people, if there is something in existence that we can’t physically hold, the idea around it might not seem real, but thanks to Dörfelt it now can be.

Art and the Blockchain

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that artists have embraced the technology world in their work. By doing so, they make it accessible to people in their day-to-day lives.

Last September, Berlin-based New Zealand artist Simon Denny, reimagined traditional finance and how alternative futures could exist across different sectors worldwide through the blockchain technology.

Focusing on three blockchain companies: Digital Asset Holdings LLC, 21 Inc. and Ethereum, Denny used full-length, cut-out images of them, placing them among larger-than-life special editions of the board game ‘Risk’ and Pokémon cartoons. By doing so, the artist was trying to imagine what the three companies believe needs to be achieved for a new world order.

By focusing on the blockchain within the art world it could suggest that the distributed ledger has achieved a new level of status higher than bitcoin. Saying that, though, the blockchain can often come across as a complicated subject matter, but when explored through art it can turn something difficult into something understandable in easy ways.

In the report, Denny said that it was important to get people outside of finance and technology interested in the blockchain and the potential it can provide people in their lives:

“I think that work that is being done by blockchain visionary companies right now has the potential to change some of the most fundamental societal building blocks from which our world is built. Money, sovereignty, trust: These are the things which are potentially at stake here, and are being reimagined by very smart, very active people.”

With the blockchain gaining such status and believed to have more potential than bitcoin, it could be that we see more blockchain-based art exhibits in the near future.

Bitcoin Paper Bills

If, however, there were bitcoin banknotes in existence, what could this do to its value?

One of the reasons that the digital currency is so popular is because it is a decentralised currency where no central government has control over it. Thought up in the days of the 2008 financial crisis, there is no one person in complete control as to how bitcoin should be governed.

As such its value has increased exponentially with millions of people of the opinion that bitcoin could eventually become a mainstream currency that replaces fiat transactions.

So, if bitcoin paper bills were in circulation, would they increase or decrease the value of it? After all, someone would have to be in control of the number of banknotes in existence, which would require a continued supply to keep up with demand.

Sure, this could potentially push the value of the currency up, but the main reason behind bitcoin is so that the public aren’t putting their complete trust into one person. What if the circulating of the bills came to a halt? What then?

People would be angry that they had trusted and believed in something and we would just revert back to how it was before: distrust with the monetary system, believing that those in charge are simply pocketing the profits and getting away with it.

The world has been, and in some cases continues to be, there, so it’s unlikely that they will want a repeat of an old show.

So while the idea of bitcoin paper bills may seem like an idea, it’s only a fanciful one that won’t happen any time soon. For now, we can simply enjoy the benefits that the digital currency is providing millions of people around the world and how it is changing our ideas as to how we pay for things.

Technology is changing and it seems that the bitcoin community is intent on having the digital currency lead the way for major changes that we might not think possible now, but could become very real in the not-so-distant future.

Featured image from Flickr via tiendientu vietnam.

Canadian Luxury Home Listed for Sale in Bitcoin on Beijing Craigslist

A luxury seven-bedroom, six-bathroom house for sale in Canada has been listed on the Beijing Craigslist website for an eye-watering 1,075 bitcoins.

The property advert, which was listed in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam at 1756 Hampton Dr. Located near the 18th hole of the Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club, the advertisement has since been deleted by the author. However, according to the Tri-City News, a British Columbia-based news outlet, the advert, which went live over a month ago, featured photos of the home in addition to a write-up on its features.

Even though there was no information regarding the property’s owner, the home was listed through Vallee Real Estate Group by agent Eric Vallee, while the brokerage for the property was listed as Keller Williams Black Diamond.

Naturally, such a house posting was bound to receive some attention, given the fact that bitcoin was listed for its price.

Upon reaching out to Vallee, the Tri-City News were informed that he was out of the office, but that another employee by the name of Val Petrov would be handling any inquiries. Petrov, however, refused to discuss the matter when asked about the listing.

He said:

“I have no comment.”

As of 26 June, 1,075 bitcoins equates to around $2.7 million. Interestingly, this price for the house is far higher than its listing on REW.ca, a real estate listing website, where its price is at $2.05 million.

Not the First Time

This, however, is not the first time that a luxury property has been listed for sale with its asking price in bitcoin in Coquitlam.

Last month, a 5,000-sq ft., five-bedroom, five-bathroom home on Firdale Street near Mundy Park was being advertised on the Hong Kong and Vancouver Craigslist real estate pages for 2,099 bitcoins. At the time that amounted to C$5.2 million.

Yet, while the postings had either been removed by the author or flagged for removal, it was still being listed on other sites, such as the Sutton Centre Realty page, where it was listed for a lesser price of $2.6 million.

Such a listing was unlikely to go unnoticed. However, with more questions than answers it appeared that someone would have to come forward and explain the situation.

Mario Figliola, the realtor who has the property listing, said the Hong Kong advert was a joke.

He explained:

“I didn’t post that ad. I have found out who the ad was posted by.”

Figliola added that he had spoken to a friend claiming that he was having trouble selling the house since the introduction of the foreign-buyer tax the previous summer.

“He said, ‘I will find you a buyer’ and he posted an ad. It’s not the best thing to do. He is a comical kind of person. He was trying to make a joke.”

In Canada, regulations stipulate that during a real estate transaction bitcoin can’t be held in trust as it sits outside the regulatory guidelines applied to government institutions and banks. As such Figliola is clear when he states that he would not conduct such a large transaction with bitcoin.

He said:

“It’s funny money. It is not real.”

Any Canadian real estate sales that are conducted in bitcoin potentially risk running afoul the Financial Transaction and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) reporting requirements. This is turn brings the legality of the house listings into question.

Naturally, such news then begs the question: is the latest house listing with a price in bitcoin a joke too?

Are the sellers simply having difficulties selling the house and want a bit of media attention to get some interest in it?

If regulations in Canada require a deal to be conducted in Canadian dollars, it seems unlikely that this is a legit posting that should be taken at face value. Not only that, but the posting is no longer available on the Beijing Craigslist website, which raises further questions behind the posting.

House Sales Stall in Canada

Another reason why these properties have been listed in bitcoin could be down to the fact that the housing market in Vancouver has stalled. It’s claimed that money flowing through the city’s house market has dropped by 42.1 percent.

This is partly the result of foreign buyers who are now experiencing more difficulty in buying property in the nation after a 15 percent property tax was added.

Furthermore, Chinese investors, who are keen property owners, can only convert up to US$50,000 per person, per year.

As such real estate in Canada is not what it once was, which could be why some estate agents are employing different tactics to attract people to luxury homes.

Payment in Bitcoin

For now, it seems that paying for a property in Canada in bitcoin is not going to happen.

However, given the digital currency’s popularity, which is seeing an influx of foreign investors and its increasing value, it’s not hard to see why bitcoin was the chosen currency.

On the other hand, it’s also easy to see how some viewers of the property may have simply written it off, thinking the posting was merely a scam.

While people get scammed out of something in their day-to-day lives, when that occurs it doesn’t usually make news headlines or attract quite a buzz around it. If bitcoin is mentioned then it becomes a different story.

Of course, getting scammed out of bitcoin does take place too. This was the case with a Maryland man who wanted to buy a 1955 Chevrolet for $3,000 after seeing an advert for it. And how was the man supposed to pay? In bitcoin.

Unfortunately, while the Vietnam veteran paid more than the $3,000 for a car he had been searching for in the digital currency, he soon discovered that he had been scammed after he failed to receive his purchase.

Even though bitcoin is being used for countless good things that are helping people access money in a timely manner, it is also being employed by criminals who want use a currency that makes it hard to trace.

Thankfully, it’s unlikely that such a large amount of money is ever going to be transacted through bitcoin for a house sale in Canada, keeping people’s money safe to a certain degree.

Featured image from Flickr via Dbilleaud.

India’s Government Report Expected in July, Bitcoin Ban Unlikely

An Indian intergovernmental committee tasked with looking into whether digital currencies such as bitcoin should be regulated is due to submit its report at the end of July.

Earlier in February, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a statement regarding its stance on bitcoin, stating that it would be the public’s responsibility for the risks they take when dealing with digital currencies.

The bank said:

“The Reserve Bank of India advises that it has not given any license/authorisation to any entity/company to operate such schemes or deal with bitcoin or any virtual currency. As such, any user, holder, investor, trader, etc. dealing with virtual currencies will be doing so at their own risk.”

As a result, in April the government established an interdisciplinary committee to examine the existing frameworks regarding digital currencies which have ‘been a cause of concern.’

Back in 2013, the RBI voiced its concern on digital currencies cautioning those who hold the currency to be aware of the risks they are exposed to.

This was followed up by a call from Kirit Somaiya, a member of the Indian Parliament who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing party in India, declaring that bitcoin should be made illegal.

Yet, despite this, a petition from within the Indian bitcoin community is urging politicians and lawmakers to deem digital currencies as legal, claiming that they provide the country with opportunities for innovation and development.

According to the petition, which is due to be delivered to Arun Jaitley, India’s Finance Minister, Dr Urjit R Patel, the Governor of the RBI and Shri S Selvakumar, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, it could save India US$7 billion by employing cryptocurrencies for inward remittances at the same time as providing the poorest Indians financial inclusion at low costs.

Before the release of the report next month, the Committee is tasked with:

  • Determining the current position of virtual currencies in India and worldwide;
  • Looking into existing global regulation and legal frameworks surrounding virtual currencies;
  • Putting forward measures that will deal with customer protection, money laundering, etc. when dealing with virtual currencies; and
  • Delving into any other matter regarding virtual currencies that may be relevant.

In addition to discussing with government ministries and the bitcoin community in India, the Committee has also taken into account public opinion in the country.

In May, India’s Ministry of Finance opened a government portal where the public could submit their comments on the market. The public had until the 31 May to submit their thoughts on where they believed the market could head.

More specifically, the government sought answers to the following:

  • A) Whether Virtual Currencies (VCs) should be banned, regulated or observed?
  • B) In case VCs are suggested to be regulated:

 

  •  i) What measures should be taken to ensure consumer protection?
  • ii) What measures should be taken to promote orderly development of VCs?
  • iii) What appropriate institution(s) should monitor/regulate the VCs?

 

  • C) In case VCs are not suggested to be regulated:

 

  • i) What should be the effective self-regulatory mechanism?
  • ii) What measures should be adopted to ensure consumer protection in this scenario?

Public results have found that around 80 percent are supportive of digital currencies while 10 percent have decided to remain neutral. Furthermore, it seems that a ban on virtual currencies is unlikely to take place, according to an unnamed senior government official.

In a report from MoneyControl, the official said that the Committee is looking at several options regarding the legality of bitcoin, but that it is continually watching the market.

“We may monitor these currencies for some time and then see how it progresses. It can then be concluded if at all there is a need for a regulator.”

However, the official added that the chances of legalising the digital currency is ‘very bleak,’ but that banning them wouldn’t be an easy task. Namely because knowing who is using the currency or operating it, is not known.

Bitcoin Grows in India

Even though the currency isn’t regulated in India, its use among its citizens is rising.

According to the World Bank, there are two billion adults without access to traditional financial services, making it hard for them to access money.

Digital currencies, however, are proving a viable way of accessing money. Not only that, but India, which is reported to have the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, is predicted to have 1.4 billion phone subscriptions by 2021.

With a smartphone costing as low as $25 to $30 it’s easy to see why the affordable smartphone arena is growing in India.

Connecting bitcoin and smartphones seems to be a win-win situation for both areas. With a younger generation constantly glued to their phones and more in tune to technological progress, it seems this could help to boost their growth. Not only that, but it’s reported that there is an increasing demand for digital currencies among the 18-35 age range.

Keeping Tabs on Companies

However, even though bitcoin is gaining in popularity among India’s citizens, the Indian government is still maintaining a close eye on companies that deal with the cryptocurrency.

With a currency that is not regulated nor is it banned in the country, officials want to make sure that the public are not being taken advantage of.

Of course, when a national currency crisis takes place, which is what happened last November when India’s government wiped out around 86 percent of the national currency overnight, it’s understandable that people will turn their attention to other assets to get by on. In a bid to crackdown on black money, the country’s Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes were removed from circulation. As such, bitcoin became the currency of choice presenting many with an alternative option to cash.

A Favourable Outcome?

It seems that so far India is more in favour of digital currencies and is likely to continue supporting them in the long run.

Not only that, but since the country’s demonetisation steps have already been put into place to help push a digital agenda. At the moment, cash represents around 78 percent of transactions in India, but it’s thought that this number will reduce to 50 percent by 2020.

While a lot can still happen between now and then, pushing the digital agenda will help to change how people pay for things and the way they do so.

Featured image from Flickr via Maciej Dakowicz.

Is the PBoC’s Regulation Crackdown Cooling Bitcoin Fever in China?

A surge of interest in bitcoin has seen its price reach new heights, yet the excitement of the digital currency market in China has been watered down due to the nations government who wants to control bitcoin.

According to a salesperson at Huobi, one of the ‘Big Three’ digital currency exchanges in China, the platform is receiving fewer phone calls for inquiries.

“This is because withdrawals are controlled by regulations.”

Sending money out of the country through bitcoin was easy for people to undertake. However, such a procedure for the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) was frustrating as its keen to keep the yuan from weakening.

As a result, in January 2017, the PBoC undertook on-sight inspections at China’s biggest digital currency exchanges known as the ‘Big Three’ in Shanghai and Beijing: OKCoin, BTCC and Huobi.

At the time, the Shanghai branch of the PBoC, said in a public statement that:

“The People’s Bank of China Shanghai HQ, the Shanghai Municipal Finance Office and other units formed a joint inspection team to carry out site inspections on Bitcoin China, focusing on checking whether it was operating beyond its business scope, whether it was engaging in unlicensed forex, payment, financing and other related businesses; whether it engaged in market manipulation; implementing anti-money laundering, financial security risks and so on.”

A separate notice was issued by the Beijing branch of the PBoC, which issued a similar statement.

BTCC revealed on social platform Weibo that it had met up with the PBoC and that it was ‘cooperating with regulatory departments.’

Bitcoin

In order to comply with the anti-money laundering (AML) and other requirements, all three exchanges announced that they would be suspending their withdrawal services and would only resume once they had received regulatory approval.

It was initially believed that the withdrawal freeze would only last one month; however, it continued through to March and only ended at the beginning on June, signalling the end of China’s freeze. News of digital currency exchanges resuming their services helped to bump the price of bitcoin back up to around $2,400.

However, while bitcoin trading volumes are gradually improving in China since the withdrawal restrictions, the PBoC still has a keen interest in digital currencies. So much so, that it’s expected to release a new set of regulations regarding them in due course. As a result, the Chinese bitcoin market remains on edge with no idea as to how these new rules will impact the currency.

Trading Turns to Japan

Unlike China, though, Japan has changed its stance of digital currencies such as bitcoin and now regards it as a legal form of payment for goods and services.

On 1 April, the Japanese government passed a law that had been drafted in December 2016, bringing bitcoin exchanges under AML and know-your-customer (KYC) rules, while listing bitcoin as a payment method.

The debate circulating the regulation of digital currencies such as bitcoin come in the wake of the collapse of Mt. Gox, the now-defunct digital currency exchange. In 2014, the digital market was left shattered after it was alleged that the Tokyo-based platform had lost $350 million or 744,4000 bitcoins. Mark Karpeles, CEO of Mt. Gox, was later arrested on allegations that he had manipulated volume on the-then leading bitcoin exchange prior to its demise. He is currently under investigation as to his involvement in the platform’s collapse and the remaining missing money.

Now that the law has been put into effect, it means that capital requirements are in place for the digital currency exchanges to protect users from any further mishaps. Not only that, but the exchanges are also required to undertake employee training programs and to submit yearly audits.

Such a turnaround of events has seen trading volumes in Japan rise. In May, trading of bitcoin in Japanese yen rose by 31 percent.

Furthermore, this acceptance of bitcoin has meant that retailers are working toward accepting it as a form of payment for customers.

Appearing to lead the way is Japanese low-cost airline Peach Aviation Ltd., who have announced that they will be accepting bitcoin as a form of payment by the end of the year to customers who want to purchase flight tickets. Japan’s leading online travel agent Evolable Asia has also teamed up with BITPoint Japan, the company behind Peach Aviation Ltd., to get 1,400 hotels and inns around the country to start accepting bitcoin by the summer of 2017.

Such a move is likely to produce a chain reaction, which is already being reported. So much so, that by the end of the year, it’s believed that there will be around 300,000 Japanese retailers accepting bitcoin for goods and services.

For a country that hasn’t had the best experience with bitcoin in the past, this news highlights how far the currency has come and the belief that countless individuals appear to have in it.

Many, however, continue to question bitcoin’s usage to pay for things considering it remains such a volatile asset and the transaction fees involved to transfer bitcoins. Despite this, though, the digital currency market remains popular with bitcoin leading the way. As such people appear embracive of the currency, which can be seen in Japan.

China to Follow?

It remains to be seen whether China will change its position on digital currencies and provide favourable regulations that will boost bitcoins price and restart the surge of interest within the country.

At the moment, the market is on tenterhooks as it remains unclear as to what direction the PBoC will take.

Yet, if China’s position on bitcoin regulations proves favourable, could it help to push the market cap of all digital currencies to one trillion dollars?

Bruce Fenton, a blockchain economic advisor, recently made this announcement on social media. According to him, in three years the market cap value of the entire crypto market will be valued at one trillion dollars.

Bitcoin

According to Coin Market Cap, it’s currently worth over $112 billion and is likely to continue rising as more interest and investment gets pushed into the market. It remains to be seen whether the one trillion mark is reached within three years or sooner than that.

Featured image from Flickr via worldwide finance.

Bestselling Author and Currency Expert Thinks Bitcoin Is In A Bubble Too

Claims that bitcoin is in a bubble are frequent statements that the digital currency community are used to hearing, and now someone new has jumped on board adding their voice to the mill.

Jim Rickards, bestselling author and currency expert, believes that bitcoin is in a bubble.

Why, though, does he think this?

The Currency Wars author said that even though people are investing in bitcoin amidst recent lows with the U.S. dollar, it didn’t mean that investors were losing confidence in it.

He explained:

“If you were losing confidence in the dollar then gold would be going up and it’s not, so it looks like a bubble.”

Rickards, who doesn’t own any bitcoin and is sticking with money, gold and silver, did offer one piece of advice:

“I don’t own any bitcoin, but for those who have a preference for bitcoin, good luck.”

Bitcoin’s Value Rises, Then Drops

During the first half of 2017, the price of bitcoin has produced numerous record all-time highs, tripling its value since the beginning of the year. Its most recent was on the 11 June when it broke the $3,000 barrier for the first time, reaching $3,041.

However, since then digital currencies across the market have fallen. Bitcoin dropped nearly 20 percent on 15 June when it was trading at a low of around $2,200 whereas ethereum, second to bitcoin, had fallen from over $400 to trade at $344.

Naturally, with such a bloodbath taking place within a market that still remains highly volatile, it’s understandable for people to claim that bitcoin is in a bubble and is unlikely to become a viable asset for people to use.

Many, however, state that such price corrections are normal after reaching new highs.

As can be seen from this article from ZeroHedge, it provides an overview of bitcoin’s recent price projections with a look toward what it can produce in the future and possible fallbacks too. This in turn means that the currency could deliver further price increases.

Previous price milestones at $100, $1,000 and, more recently, $3,000 have been reached. All of which then saw subsequent price corrections before bitcoin was able to climb further still to reach a new high.

Will bitcoin reach the projected $10,000 mark? Who knows, but regardless of what the digital currency does or doesn’t achieve, there will be plenty of people claiming that bitcoin is in a bubble.

Why Did Bitcoin’s Price Drop?

It’s believed that the recent price drop in bitcoin is down to the fact that investors are concerned by Chinese miner Bitmain’s plan to initiate a hard fork of bitcoin if a code to upgrade the network is activated this summer.

It’s no secret that bitcoin has issues with its scaling abilities. So much so, that the community is split as to what potential solution would provide the answer to fixing it.

According to Reuters, a hard fork under Bitmain could see the creation of a new bitcoin blockchain, which would produce a new bitcoin currency away from the original one.

As a result, Greg Dwyer, business development manager at digital currency trading platform BitMEX, said that people are worried.

He explained:

“Traders are concerned with what a fork could do to their holdings and most likely now converting to fiat until some clarity about the scaling debate comes to light.”

The solutions that are currently circulating to solve bitcoin’s scaling issues are Bitcoin Unlimited (BU), Segregated Witness (SegWit) and User-Activated Soft Fork (UASF). However, Bitmain has continually spoken against SegWit and UASF, with the founder of Bitmain, Jihan Wu, putting his full support behind BU.

Wu, who is founder of Antpool, which has around 16.6 percent of the network’s global hashrate share, announced in March 2017, that:

“We will switch our entire pool to Bitcoin Unlimited. We can’t tell how the hard fork will play out. We will only know by the time we get there.”

According to Coin.Dance, BU currently has around 41 percent support while SegWit is trailing behind at nearly 31 percent.

Yet, it’s clear that a solution needs to be reached. If bitcoin is to grow and, potentially, increase its value then it needs to solve its scaling issues. In May, it was reported that there were over 220,000 unconfirmed bitcoin transactions waiting to be included on the blockchain.

That number has since fallen to just over 36,000; however, it’s a clear indication that something needs to be done. It’s guaranteed that not everyone will be happy with the results, but at least something will be done where the community can move on from.

Bitcoin Is Not a Viable Asset

That’s according to Morgan Stanley.

The leading global financial services firm has said that digital currencies like bitcoin won’t become a viable currency in the future. Seeing them as more of an investment rather than a payment option, the firm thinks that using bitcoin is a ‘more inconvenient way to pay’ for things instead of using a debit or credit card.

It said:

“Most regulators and investors view cryptocurrencies more as assets than actual currencies. Their values are too volatile and too hard to actually use for payment for most to consider them currencies. Our conversations with some merchants indicate that, while cryptocurrencies might actually be attractive for them to operate their businesses, they find that cryptocurrencies are far too volatile to be used.”

Yet, despite this thinking, there are already plenty of merchants who are expected to implement bitcoin into their payment options before the end of 2017. Japanese sellers are witnessing an increase in the use of the digital currency and are keen not to miss out on potential opportunities in the market. As a result, it’s expected that around 300,000 merchants will introduce bitcoin as a form of payment by the end of the year.

For them, the claim that bitcoin is in a bubble doesn’t appear to ring true. As with anything that goes up, it must come down too, but that, inevitably, also means that it will go back up again. So it seems that’s the case with bitcoin.

Featured image from Flickr via Oleg B.

Venezuelans Turn to Digital Currencies Amid Increasing Political Crisis

A rising number of Venezuelans are turning to digital currencies such as bitcoin as the country continues to battle a political, economic and social crisis.

In February 2017, inflation in the country is reported to have soared to 741 percent year-on-year. In December 2016, inflation rose by 800 percent, reaching an all-time high.

In comparison, consumer prices in the U.S. increased by 2.4 percent in March. The last time the country recorded an all-time high was during the 1920s when inflation was recorded at 23.70 percent, according to Business Insider.

With Venezuelan citizens calling for the removal of President Nicolas Maduro, a worthless bolivar, low savings and the country struggling to provide basic necessities for its citizens, they are turning their attention to digital currencies such as bitcoin.

According to Ryan Taylor, chief executive office of Dash Core, it makes sense for people to be involved in a volatile digital currency that is rising in price rather than a volatile currency that is falling in value.

He added:

“We’re seeing huge demand in Venezuela through inquiries in our support line, as more and more people join our forums and chat rooms, even on how-to YouTube videos that have popped up.”

LocalBitcoins.com, an online exchange, which gives users the option to change their local currencies into bitcoin, noted that the bitcoin trading volume in Venezuela had increased to $1.3 million. This figure is around twice the amount that was recorded two months ago.

Still a Small Market

Yet, while there is certainly an increasing number of people who are turning their attention to digital currencies to function in their day-to-day lives, the market only seems to be touching a small percentage of people.

As Bloomberg reports, in 2015, only 62 percent of the population had access to an Internet connection while those living below the poverty line was recorded at more than 80 percent.

However, it is in countries that are experiencing a national currency crisis that the adoption of digital currencies may be at its strongest. According to a report from the London School of Economics, it found that based on its Bitcoin Market Potential Index (BMPI), Argentina and Venezuela were the two countries that were most likely to adopt bitcoin. This was based on technology penetration, inflation and financial repression.

Taylor said:

“It’s in these locations where the incentives to go into digital currencies is the strongest. We’re seeing a lot of growth in the region.”

Value of Digital Currencies Drop

As the saying goes: what goes up must come down.

And that’s certainly the case with the crypto market at present. Bitcoin is probably experiencing the worst drop in its price after reaching the $3,000 mark earlier in June.

As of the 15 June, the price of the digital currency is trading around $2,300, dropping nearly 25 percent in value. As a consequence, its market cap value has fallen and is now worth $37 billion.

However, it isn’t just bitcoin that has seen its price going into the red. So did other well-established digital currencies such as ethereum, which had a price drop from over $400 to $344. With bitcoin’s market value dropping to below $40 billion, ethereum is slowly catching up with its value just shy of $30 billion. Zcash, the 12th largest digital currency is, however, in the green with its prices rising to just under $400, pushing its market cap value up to over $500 million.

Still a Viable Alternative?

Yet, one can’t help questioning whether digital currencies are still a viable option for people to invest in. Even though bitcoin’s price has tripled in price since the beginning of the year, before dropping in value, it still remains a highly volatile asset to invest in.

Not only that, but many critics of the digital currency have spoken out claiming that the price of it is in a bubble. Other naysayers of the digital currency include Mike Hearn, a well-known bitcoin developer, who published a post on Medium last January claiming that bitcoin had failed.

Hearn states:

“It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked ‘systemically important institutions’ and ‘too big to fail’ has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people.”

Furthermore, Taavet Hinrikus, CEO at TransferWise, a cross-border money transfer firm, said in April 2016 that bitcoin was like a ‘gold rush’ and that ‘real people’ weren’t using the currency.

If that’s true then why is the currency making a difference in people’s day-to-day lives around the world?

While the early days of using digital currencies such as bitcoin may have been difficult, it is now becoming easier with more and more merchants accepting the cryptocurrency as a form of payment.

India is one country that is seeing an increase in the use of digital currencies. Last November, the country’s demonetisation saw the government wipe out around 86 percent of the nation’s national currency overnight. As such, the country’s citizens needed an alternative way for them to pay for things. Bitcoin became the ideal alternative, which has seen an increase among the 18-35 age range.

Additionally, since Japan changed its regulations regarding bitcoin in April 2017 and its use as a payment option, merchants are now accepting it as a form of payment.

In a bid to keep up with the demand that the currency is presenting it’s expected that by the end of 2017 there will be as many as 300,000 stores in Japan offering the digital currency as a payment option. One Japanese company that is making plans to include bitcoin is low-cost Japanese airline Peach Aviation Ltd., who have announced that it is to start accepting the digital currency for flights at the end of the year.

Digital currencies may still have a long way to go before they become mainstream, but despite their volatility and their unregulated nature they are making steady headway.

While trading prices within the market may be down, it’s expected that they will pick up again. Only time will tell how and when this will happen, but despite this, they are still a viable option for people, particularly the citizens of Venezuela who are living through political turmoil and a weak bolivar that doesn’t seen any end in sight.

Featured image from Flickr via ruurmo.

Google’s Director of Engineering Says He Won’t be Investing in Bitcoin

A man known for his ability to make uncanny predictions with future innovations has said that he won’t be putting money into bitcoin, stating that the digital currency won’t be the replacement for fiat currencies.

Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, made these comments at the Exponential Finance Summit, a New York City technology conference that was hosted by Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think tank.

Speaking in front of 700 senior executives and technologists, Kurzweil explained his concerns regarding the most popular digital currency on the market. According to him, bitcoin lacks the stability needed that gives a currency added value, which makes people more likely to trust it and use it.

He said:

“Ultimately, people need to have confidence in their currency and bitcoin in particular has not really demonstrated that. It’s had a good year, but a very rocky life before that.”

Because of the currency’s inability to remain stable he believes this undermines its value.

He adds:

“I wouldn’t put my money into it.”

Such comments are unlikely to go down well within the bitcoin community considering 2017 has proven to be a good year for it. On 11 June, it was reported that the digital currency had hit the $3,000 mark for the first time in its history after hovering between the $2,700 and $2,900 range the previous week.

Yet, while it finally reached a new all-time high, it didn’t stay up for long, once again highlighting that the currency remains a volatile asset.

On 12 June, bitcoin’s price dropped by around $300 in one hour from $2,980 to a low of $2,650, according to CoinDesk. The drop, however, was short-lived, with prices rebounding back to $2,900 30 minutes later on CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index (BPI).

This news further gives credence to Kurzweil’s thinking and the fact that the digital currency still has a long way to go before it can shed its volatility despite the fact that it is up 200 percent in 2017.

Other Critics of Bitcoin

With Kurzweil’s current thinking, he joins the ranks of fellow bitcoin critics such as Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffet who once claimed that the digital currency was ‘a mirage,’ and that people should stay away from it.

In a 2014 report from CNBC, Buffet is reported as saying that ‘the idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke in my view.’

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has spoken out in the past and said that ‘bitcoin is doomed.’ In 2015, Dimon is reported to have said:

“It’s just not going to happen … there is no government that is going to put up with it for long. It’s kind of cute now, a lot of senators and congressmen will say ‘I support Silicon Valley innovation,’ but there will be no currency that gets around government controls.”

More recently American billionaire and investor Mark Cuban took to Twitter to state that ‘bitcoin is in a bubble,’ after it achieved a record high of $2,900 on 6 June. This despite the fact that the digital currency is outperforming stock market benchmarks such as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

And yet, while bitcoin is continuing to make headway and is steadily increasing its price and market value, there will always be critics who will predict its downfall.

Blockchain Has More Potential Than Bitcoin

Of course, while Kurzweil remains weary on the cryptocurrency, he takes a keen interest in the currency’s distributed ledger, the blockchain.

For him, this is where change is likely to take place stating that it could be implemented by national governments, but that more people need to have increased confidence in it first.

He said that the blockchain provides the transparency to change the way countries mint their fiat currencies.

He said:

“Providing greater transparency, and blockchain does provide that, could be something adopted by leading currencies like the existing national currencies.”

Cuban also shares the view that it is the blockchain that will be more valuable in the future. One of his recent tweets reads:

“I think blockchain is very valuable and will be at the core of most transactions in the future. Healthcare, finance etc. all will use it.”

The Federal Reserve Bank has also spoken in the past about how the blockchain has more potential. The Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari is reported as saying that the blockchain could be adopted in the future compared to the digital currency.

Presenting a speech at the MN High Tech Association 2017 Spring Conference in May, Kashkari, said:

“I think sentiment has shifted in the markets. I would say I think conventional wisdom now is that blockchain and the underlying technology is probably more interesting and has more potential than maybe bitcoin does by itself.”

While the blockchain is still in the early stages of its development, it’s interesting to see that so much interest is being placed on it and the future changes it can make to delivering a more efficient and tamper-proof system.

Recently, the Dubai government announced that they have signed a new agreement with ObjectTech, a U.K.-based blockchain startup, to create digital passports for entry at Dubai International Airport. It’s hoped that by doing so, it will put an end to manual passport verification for seamless entry.

According to the agreement, ObjectTech will be working with Dubai’s Immigration and Visas Department to develop the world’s first ‘gate-less border,’ as it combines the abilities of biometric verification and the immutability of the blockchain technology.

This is just one example of how bitcoin’s distributed ledger is being employed in innovative ways that may not has seemed possible before.

Whether the blockchain will be adopted more in the future remains to be seen; however, bitcoin also remains a valuable source for people, particularly those who are disenfranchised and without access to traditional banking services.

While the digital currency may still be a volatile asset, it is a popular currency that many people are investing in. Its price will invariably go up just as it will also go down as different factors impact its price. Even though critics will remain, bitcoin continues to achieve new heights as it works at becoming the next big currency.

Featured image from Flickr via YEKRA_Stills2.

Romania’s Central Bank Warns Against the High Volatility of Bitcoin

Romania’s central bank has reportedly issued a new statement confirming its position remains the same regarding the digital currency bitcoin and has warned users from it.

In 2015, the Banca Naţională a României (BNR), the central bank of Romania, first warned the public about using bitcoin for payments due to its high volatility in an official notice; however, it also added that it would keep tracking the progress of the currency as it evolved.

Now, though, three years later, the central bank has reiterated its previous stance on the topic maintaining its reservations. This, despite the fact that bitcoin has nearly tripled its value since the beginning of 2017 and has attracted new investment from Asian, American and European markets. The currency recently achieved a new high at the beginning of June when it was trading at $2,911 for the first time.

In a report from Romanian business publication Profit.ro, documents sent to financial institutions roughly translate to state:

“[The] National Bank of Romania maintains its view previously communicated and continues to warn users of [the] virtual currency risks they face. Virtual currency has a very high volatility and a low security relative to the currencies issued by central banks and regulated transparent electronic currencies. Virtual currency holders have no guarantee that it will change in the future for goods and services or in legal tender.”

For further clarity on the issue, the bank also added that:

“Virtual currencies are not suitable for use as payment, but rather as a means of investment or speculation.”

This comment, essentially, closes any door on the future chance of the bank changing its views and relaxing its stance toward bitcoin payments.

The reason this is is because of possible links to terrorist financing due to the level of anonymity that digital currencies provide.

The bank further adds:

“The degree of anonymity on the holders of these coins has facilitated the use of such coins to finance terrorist activities in nature and is almost impossible to identify the parties involved in transactions in these currencies.”

Not only that, but the Bucharest-based bank believes that bitcoin’s scaling issues and the fact that the currency is based online makes it a risky source of payment.

“The use [of] virtual currency risks outweigh payment methods traditional in the sense that portability of virtual currency is based exclusively on the Internet and is limited only by the capacity of the computer network and infrastructure information related to that virtual currency.”

And yet, despite this particular stance from the country’s central bank, the use of bitcoin is reported to be on the rise within the country. According to data from Coin Dance, trading volumes at peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins increased during the month of May, even though the beginning of June has seen a slight drop. Whereas, local Romanian digital currency exchange CoinFlux revealed earlier this year that 100 million RON, around $24.5 million, worth of bitcoin, ether and litecoin had been traded on its exchange since the company started in December 2015.

In light of the heightened interest for bitcoin in Romania, in March, Bitcoin Romania, a bitcoin exchange and bitcoin ATM network operator, revealed that it was teaming up with local money transfer operator Smith & Smith to provide bitcoin purchases at 70 locations around the country. By doing so, it gives users the ability to withdraw or deposit cash for bitcoins.

Considering the central bank is keen to avert people from using digital currencies such as bitcoin, its popularity doesn’t seem to have been impacted.

It’s interesting to note, however, how much against the use of digital currencies Romania’s central bank is.

As noted above one of the factors it has against bitcoin is the fact that it can be used for illegal transactions. It goes without saying that so too can fiat money. Not only that, but the use of cash can often by more difficult to trace than any other form of currency given that it doesn’t tend to leave a trail behind. Yet, when it comes to persuading people against the use of bitcoin, the individuals doing the persuading often forget this small detail.

Russia’s Previous Stance on Bitcoin

Russia is one country that once shared the same view regarding bitcoin as something that couldn’t be trusted. So much so, that in March 2016 any management or executives of banks caught dealing with the digital currency faced a prison sentence of up to seven years while any everyday individual faced a lesser sentence of up to four years.

Now, though, it has softened its position on the currency and while it has legalised it, it has yet to regulate it. This is something that is currently being discussed which is drawing opinion. According to Russia’s central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina, she views Bitcoin as a digital asset instead of a currency.

While Russia are continually talking about bitcoin, it’s not clear as to where Russia is going with its proposed bitcoin regulation. It has, though, been projected that 2018 could be the year that Russia recognise digital currencies as the authorities work on enforcing rules against money laundering.

However, whatever both countries end up doing in the future is unlikely to impact the number of people using bitcoin for their day-to-day expenses. The fact remains that digital currencies are a popular and alternative option to fiat currencies and are likely to remain so.

Banks can say what they want to discourage people from using bitcoin, but at the end of the day demand for it is continuing, which is seeing its price rise. This is turn is creating further demand which is making banks sit up and take notice. They now fully realise that bitcoin has become a contender in the payment world and is demonstrating that it has real world value that everyday people are employing.

By giving people another payment option in life they know that they have a choice as to how they conduct their finances, which goes against what major financial institutions want.

Featured image from Flickr via MarculescuEugenIancuD5200Alaska

Russia Considers Regulating Bitcoin, but Doesn’t Class it As A Currency

As Russia’s Central Bank explores the ways in which it can regulate the digital currency Bitcoin, the bank’s governor has raised questions as to whether it can be classed as a currency.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Elvira Nabiullina, governor of the Russian Central Bank, stated that she views Bitcoin as a digital asset instead of a currency.

She said:

“We don’t consider that Bitcoin can be considered as a virtual currency. It’s more digital assets with the regulation of assets.”

However, the fact that the bank is even considering the regulation of Bitcoin is a marked difference from the country’s previous stance regarding the cryptocurrency.

In March 2016, a new amendment to the Criminal Code by the Ministry of Finance in Russia saw the regulator proposing a seven-year prison sentence for management and executives of banks and financial services firms for the use of Bitcoin. For everyday individuals caught using the digital currency, the proposed prison sentence was deemed less at four years.

However, despite the proposed new draft law, the following month saw the proposal by the Finance Ministry hit a delay. At the time, the deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseev stated that a number of corrections to the proposal were the cause of the holdup.

Now, though, in a turnaround of events, the central bank’s governor has revealed that the authority is ‘analyzing’ the possibility of regulating the digital currency and is looking at the internalisation of the digital currency into the country’s regulatory systems. While Nabiullina didn’t extend further on what the central bank was doing, she did add that the authority had some concerns about Bitcoin.

“We have some doubts, we don’t see some huge benefits from introducing digital assets in our economy.”

Yet, while the Russian Central Bank is weighing the pros and cons of Bitcoin as it works on the ways it can regulate it, there are some Russian companies that are due to embrace the currency as a form of payment.

Ulmart, which is the Russian version of Amazon, revealed in May that it was going to start accepting Bitcoin alongside the fiat ruble in September 2017. It was due to accept the digital currency earlier in February; however, the e-commerce giant experienced a setback after the central bank intervened, blocking the company from accepting Bitcoin.

In the PR, Brian Kean, Chief International Officer of Ulmart, said:

“Ulmart believes such initiatives as bitcoin can be part of the efforts to develop ‘smart’ economy and cities and will aim to play a major role in this process.”

Bitcoin’s Price Surge

The price of Bitcoin has grown exponentially during the first half of 2017. In May, the price of the currency jumped to a near $2,800 for the first time, after it recorded a price of $2,799.

However, while the price bubble finally burst at the end of May, pushing the currency’s value down to $2,300 and wiping around $4 billion of its market cap value, there is still a bullish attitude within the community. So much so, that several predictions have already come out indicating a positive future for the digital currency.

Last December, a Saxo Bank analyst predicted that the price of Bitcoin could reach $2,000 by 2017, which came true on the 21 May, 2017. That same analyst, Kay Van Petersen, has now predicted that the cryptocurrency could attain even greater heights and believes that in 10 years time, each Bitcoin could be worth around $100,000.

Not bad considering that Bitcoin was trading around $750 toward the end of 2016. Van Petersen, however, is not the only way to see a bright future for the digital currency.

Aurelien Menant, CEO of regulated digital currency exchange Gatecoin, has said:

“I would not be surprised to see the Bitcoin price doubling again to around $6,000 by the end of the year.”

While, Bobby Lee, CEO of BTCC, a major digital currency exchange has tweeted in the past, stating that the cryptocurrency could reach between $5,000-$11,000 by 2020 after the block halving reward.

Additionally, CNBC Daniel Masters, director of Global Advisors Bitcoin Investment Fund (GABI) has spoken out and said that the long-term investment in Bitcoin remains strong and that it has the potential to reach $4,000 within eight to 14 months.

These are just a few of the positive indications of where Bitcoin can go, which is seeing heightened interest in the currency around the world.

Japan Legalises Bitcoin

A boost in the price and value of Bitcoin can be attributed to the fact that in April the Japanese government made changes to its regulations, which now recognises Bitcoin as a form of payment. As a result, significant trading volumes are coming from Japan.

With Japanese companies now open to accepting the digital currency as a form of payment, companies such as Peach Aviation Ltd., will make it possible for customers to pay for their flights with the currency by the end of 2017. Peach, however, is just one of thousands of industries that are already, or are due to, accept the currency in light of the new law changes.

Russia’s Next Move?

It’s not yet clear as to where Russia is going with its proposed Bitcoin regulation. In a report from Bloomberg in April, Moiseev, said that in 2018 Russia could recognise digital currencies such as Bitcoin as the authorities work on enforcing rules against money laundering.

He said:

“The state needs to know who at every moment of time stands on both sides of the financial chain. If there’s a transaction, the people who facilitate it should understand from whom they bought and to whom they were selling, just like with bank operations.”

Even though Bitcoin isn’t regulated by any government, its use by criminals has meant that it is being scrutinised by many governments who believe it’s being used for money laundering purposes, which is hard for the authorities to track.

The recent WannaCry cyberattack, which targeted thousands of computers in hundreds of countries, further highlighted its use within the criminal world. Russia was one country targeted and is reported to have been the worst hit in what has become known as the most audacious global cyberattack to have taken place.

Naturally, it is because of this incidents that countries are keen to track Bitcoin payments to stem the flow of ill-gotten gains.

Such a move to regulate the currency in Russia may also play a role in pushing its price even higher.

As of 5 June, the price of Bitcoin is trading around $2,590.

Featured image from Flickr via Joseph Pole.

Saxo Bank Analyst Believes Bitcoin Could Reach $100,000 in 10 Years

An analyst who rightly predicted that Bitcoin would reach $2,000 in 2017 has gone on to predict greater things for the digital currency in the future, claiming that it can reach $100,000 in 10 years.

In December 2016, Denmark-based Saxo Bank released a report called Outrageous Predictions for 2017. At the time, the price of Bitcoin was trading around the $750 mark and seemed a long way from attaining anything what we’ve seen so far in the first half of 2017.

In the report, the bank made a number of forecasts on an array of things such as Brexit, stocks, banks and commodities around the world. It also mentioned Bitcoin. More specifically, Kay Van Petersen, a global macro strategist at Saxo Bank, predicted that under Trump’s presidency and his spending ‘binge,’ which would push the dollar sky high, emerging markets would be forced to seek alternatives.

This, in turn, produces an ideal environment for Bitcoin to test the $2,000 mark, he adds, which it did when it reached that price on the 21 May, 2017. It subsequently continued achieving new heights where it nearly attained $2,800 before falling back down to $2,300 on 30 May after a price correction saw its bubble burst.

Now, though, Van Petersen is back with new predictions and is looking ahead toward the long-term growth of the digital currency.

Bitcoin at $100,000?

Quoted in a report from CNBC, Van Petersen is reported as saying that in 10 years, ‘bitcoin’s market capitalization would be ten times the average daily volume, giving a figure of $1.75 trillion for the market cap.”

In 10 years time, there will be 17 million Bitcoin in circulation, which, when divided by $1.75 trillion, would equate to each Bitcoin being worth over $100,000.

Not a bad estimation considering how far the digital currency has come in its relatively short life span and the fact that it has achieved so much in the first part of 2017. With the price of Bitcoin steadily rising, it seems probable that Bitcoin could quite easily reach $100,000 in 10 years.

However, while Van Petersen states that his prediction is ‘conservative,’ he believes in the future of digital currencies.

“This is not a fad, cryptocurrencies are here to stay. There will emerge two to three main ones. Bitcoin will be one of those. And the reason is the first-mover advantage, the scale and the pioneering.”

It is hoped that improvements to Bitcoin scalability issues will put an end to the gridlock that many users are experiencing with their unconfirmed transactions. This is one problem with the currency that the community is struggling to resolve in a timely fashion.

On the 24 May, the Digital Currency Group (DCG), which represents 56 companies in 21 countries and makes up 83.28 percent of hashing power, $5.1 billion monthly on chain transaction and 20.5 million Bitcoin wallets, revealed that a scaling agreement had been reached for the activation of Bitcoin Core’s Segregated Witness (SegWit) and a 2MB hard fork implemented within six months.

The agreement also lowered the threshold for activation from the original 95 percent to 80 percent of the network’s mining power. The arrival of this news also pushed the price of the digital currency up to over $2,300 for the first time.

In an interview with CoinGeek, Massachusetts-based software developer Gavin Andresen, was hopeful that a solution will be reached to ensure Bitcoin’s future:

“I’m hopeful the agreement announced today (SegWit plus a 2MB blockchain increase) finally breaks the gridlock. I think everybody using the Bitcoin blockchain and all the companies that have to deal with customers that are using the Bitcoin blockchain see that network is near a breaking point.”

Room to Grow

When Bitcoin first came on the scene in 2009 there were only a few select people who truly understood what is was and what Satoshi Nakamoto was attempting to achieve with it.

Now, the digital currency is known all around the world, is accepted in many shops in various countries and is undertaken as a form of payment for countless day-to-day services. Not only that, but several people have undertaken round-the-world trips only using Bitcoin as a form of payment.

In such a short time, Bitcoin has managed to demonstrate it has real world value, but it also has plenty of room to grow and expand on what it’s doing at the moment. Van Petersen believes that, with time, these developments will appear.

“Volumes are going up, volatility is going down. A lot of people talk about the volatility, but if you are in Zimbabwe or Venezuela, this volatility is nothing. This is the interesting thing to me. I think in the West, a lot of people view it is as speculative, but emerging markets will get it, their needs will be different.”

Growing Risks for Investors?

Interestingly, while Van Petersen is predicting great things for the future price of Bitcoin, a report from the Nikkei, states that with soaring Bitcoin prices, investors face growing risks.

Unlike investments in assets such as stocks where price-earning ratios and other measures aid investors’ decisions, when it comes to digital currencies there is ‘almost no yardsticks for investment,’ the report states.

It’s not surprising that there have been comparisons to the Dutch tulip bubble in the 17th century, and yet, the buzz around the price of Bitcoin and where it’s heading hasn’t done anything to stem its flow.

It’s because of this that the digital currency community remains excited about the path that the currency is on and what it achieve in 10 years time. Within that time could we be using the currency more easily and freely in shops and how we undertake our day-to-day transactions? Will banks be less relied upon? And just as importantly, will we have reached a solution to the cryptocurrency’s scaling issues by then?

Who knows, but if Bitcoin is to reach $100,000 in the next decade, it would certainly be an exciting time for the digital currency community. So much so, that it may even be worthwhile holding some Bitcoin in a secure wallet to reap the rewards further down the line.

As of the 1 June, 2017, the price of Bitcoin is trading at $2,440.

Featured image from Flickr via tiendientu vietnam.