Bitcoin has done what few thought was possible. It has crossed the $20,000 mark, and with a market cap of over $300 billion, it has already surpassed several popular names, including Tesla, Twenty-First Century Fox, Starbucks, Costco, Adobe, Paypal, Nvidia, Comcast, Cisco and Intel.
How did it happen? Despite the criticism, the cynicism, the government crackdowns, the hacks and thefts – Bitcoin took 2017 by storm. Starting at around $1,000, it managed to burst into five figures late November, and it took less than a month for it to double in value.
We can attribute it to market frenzy, fear of missing out, people flocking towards Bitcoin’s ideology – a store of value world governments can’t control, the influx of institutional investment or the validation of Bitcoin as a new asset class. Whatever the reason may be, Bitcoin, and as a result the whole crypto space, has ushered a paradigm shift, and years down the road, people will point at 2017 as the year that changed everything.
That being said, this is also an opportunity to step back and think beyond Bitcoin’s price and the USD figure it represents. With the crypto space as a whole, reaching for the $0.6 trillion figure, it is hard to ignore ‘the money’, but USD value is far from the essence of cryptocurrencies.
As Vitalik Buterin rightly pointed out on Twitter this week, the real questions we should be asking relate to the actual impact of crypto on world economy and the people, particularly the less fortunate sections – those who are unbanked, those who have seen their life savings wither away due to hyper inflation.
This, right here, is just the start. The world is just beginning to grasp the concept and the revolution that is blockchain technology. While marketing campaigns, events, talk show appearances and the resulting price explosions are great for getting attention, the real work behind the scenes, the development and evolution of these technologies is far from mature. The developers have their work cut out for them.
Just like 2017 was instrumental for giving cryptocurrencies mainstream exposure, 2018 is going to be critical, as the industry will have to deliver on promises and show results. Many will likely fail, but those which remain standing this time next year may hold the key to a future where blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will actually change lives (and not just make paper millionaires).
Meanwhile, let’s celebrate Bitcoin touching $20,000 and wait to see how tomorrow’s launch of futures contracts by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange affect the market.