Current worth of Bitcoin
Bitcoin was going to change the world until it wasn’t. But now it is again.
Oh sure, you’ve heard this before. Back in 2013, everyone was sure bitcoin was the next big thing. Then the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, imploded, and everyone was sure bitcoin was dead. Pundits tend to think that way: you’re It, or you’re not. The reality of it is a little different. Despite the travails of Mt. Gox—and the Silk Road, the online drug bazaar that relied so heavily on bitcoin—the digital currency never went away. Today, it’s thriving like never before. And some say this is the year it finally reaches the mainstream.
As a currency driven not by a central government but by a vast network of independent computers spread across the globe, bitcoin has been slowed by regulatory problems—particularly in the US. But these are easing, with regulators in New York leading the way. Ultimately, bitcoin can still provide a much cheaper and simpler way of moving money from place to place, particularly when you’re a consumer or business moving it across international borders or a retailer accepting payments from online buyers.
The price of bitcoin stands at $434, well below the high of $1, 216 it reached in late 2013. But it’s not the price that matters. What matters is whether people are using bitcoin, and more than ever, they are. Check out the graph below, which shows the number of daily bitcoin transactions. The usage has hit a record high, and in December, compared to the same time a year ago, the average number of daily transactions more than doubled.
A lot of this “usage” is mere speculation—people betting the price of bitcoin will rise. And as bitcoin watcher Tim Swanson explains, many transactions may simply be users shuffling the location of their funds for whatever reason. But according to Coinbase—the San Francisco outfit that runs the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, operates 2.8 million bitcoin wallets globally, and drives bitcoin payments for major retailers like Dell and Overstock.com—about 20 percent of the activity on its network now involves payments or uses as a currency. That may seem small, but it’s up significantly from previous years and continues to rise. “Things are going up and to the right, ” says Adam White, vice president of business development and strategy at Coinbase.