Bitcoin has had a wild 2015. The last three years have been exciting, but for very different reasons. 2013 was the breakout year. 2014 was a humbling experience, with the critics and naysayers having a ball. The bitcoin struck back in 2015, looking to have the last laugh on a skeptical global mainstream market. Let’s sum up what 2015 was for the world’s foremost digital currency, as we head into what should be another action-packed year for Bitcoin.
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1. Bitcoin is “The Honey Badger of Money”
After a 2014 that represented a significant fall from grace for bitcoin’s currency, 2015 proved Bitcoin is incredibly resilient, if nothing else. In a market that quantifies value only in dollars, a specious measure for a decentralized online fully-digital global currency, things could have ended far worse. Bitcoin values dropped well under $200 in mid-January but came back to fight even harder to regain lost value ever since.
Mainstream critics are noticeably silent ever since Bitcoin’s value has doubled, and has even shown signs of stability, not volatility. Successful investors buy when values are low and go long, but novice investors are now jumping onboard. Better late than never.
2. China controls Bitcoin more than The West wants to believe
Western culture has a nasty habit of thinking they are the center of the universe. This is not totally unfounded, and even when it relates to Bitcoin, as virtually 100% of activity in Bitcoin’s infancy was American-made. Yet, ever since 2013, the Red Dragon of China has awakened, and Bitcoin’s heart and soul have moved to the Far East. Around 80% of the trading in Bitcoin takes place in China, and bitcoin trading activity in Chinese exchanges is exploding as we speak. We’re talking hundreds of percent YTY increases. Chinese capital controls are moving people to start using new forms of money, like Bitcoin, to preserve their wealth.
So if you are in California, and don’t know that Bitcoin prices are exploding, don’t look at the East Coast for answers, but look across your western shore. That’s where the waves are being made.
3. Major countries will ban Bitcoin out of fear and to protect their weak currencies
Russia has been resolute in its hardening stance against Bitcoin. Russia's currency had a rough 2014 as well, dropping about half of its value, scaring the Kremlin. Governments don’t like to look in the mirror when their economy weakens. It’s always someone else's fault, so checking Bitcoin was the main course of action by Russia’s financial leadership. New regs against using Bitcoin can lead to fines and even jail time. Considering how tight Russia and China are, this is a future situation to watch in 2016. Freedom and individual prosperity are four-letter words in their national totalitarian regimes, and since Bitcoin embodies such ideals, it has no real way to protect itself from governments looking for an easy target.
4. The elites of Wall Street really like Bitcoin’s blockchain technology
The 2015 spin is that Wall Street wants the blockchain, not Bitcoin, but this itself is a major victory for the protocol, which was labeled a joke not two years earlier. Major banks and corporations can’t seem to beat Bitcoin’s blockchain, so they are looking to join it, at least in their own versions of it.
Even after a year where Bitcoin values dropped almost 90%, VC investment in the industry has doubled. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and Bitcoin transactions and funding continue to rise steadily. Can the “banksters" copy a better mouse trap? Maybe they’ll have something that really works well in 2-3 years, but Bitcoin is working just fine right now, and more people are starting to see that every day.
5. Some of Bitcoin’s biggest corporations have cracked under market pressure
Major Bitcoin leaders like BitReserve (now Uphold) and BitPay have taken shots at Bitcoin as a digital currency in 2015. Uphold, as part of their rebranding away from solely handling Bitcoin transactions, is justifying their pivot, thusly:
“I don’t think bitcoin is going to be anywhere near as important as people say it is today,” said Uphold’s CEO Anthony Watson to Business Insider.
BitPay has stumbled all year long, with a rash of layoffs, and an email scam scandal that cost the company millions in Bitcoins. BitPay’s CEO Stephen Pair said at MoneyConf in June, “We keep adding merchants, we’re up to over 60,000 now, but they’re selling to the same pool of Bitcoin early adopters.”
Meanwhile, companies like Coinbase are having no problems with their business plan, as they have had their best year ever, building a domestic exchange, while holding millions of Bitcoin wallets. Maybe bitcoin isn’t the problem here?
In any event, Bitcoin has proven in 2015 that it is just a cutting-edge technology, protocol, and payment system. Blaming bitcoin’s currency for your business, or national fiat currency’s problem, is laughable. It’s what you do with Bitcoin that counts. In 2015, we learned that tough times don’t last, but bitcoins do.