Bitcoin Celebrates Ninth Birthday with Record Market Prices

October 31 marks the posting of the Bitcoin White paper, considered the start date of the first cryptocurrency. The coin meets its birthday with near-record prices, but also challenges.

Bitcoin is already half as old as the Euro, and in its relatively small lifespan the first cryptocoin has seen events both high and low.

Curiously, the Bitcoin name is patented by none other than the parent company of now-defunct Mt.Gox. The patent runs out soon- in 2021, but for now, the word has been used freely.

Nine years after pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto published the white paper entitled "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System", Bitcoin is way more than a hobby project for applied cryptographers. It is an up and coming tradable asset with a total market capitalization above $100 billion, the size of a major corporation.

And Bitcoin has spawned a vast ecosystem of altcoins and newer technologies exploiting the potential of the blockchain. But the Bitcoin name still holds a mystique, and draws in most investors through its popularity.

It is precisely the popularity of Bitcoin that makes it face so many challenges. Everyone tries to have a piggy-back ride on the revolutionary idea of Satoshi Nakamoto. The latest challenge for the coin is to survive with a community-approved version of its software. On November 16th, the blockchain may split off again, creating the so-called SegWit2X coin, where transactions would be packed into larger blocks. That new blockchain would compete with the Core version for being "the real Bitcoin".

Bitcoin, in the end, is a protocol and a digital asset- a piece of software. How this software would evolve, would it be truly decentralized or become an oligarchy of "whales"- it's anyone's guess. But Bitcoin may already benefit from the Broadway phenomenon- when a show has been on for a while, it is expected to run that much longer.

So here's to Bitcoin, soon a decade old, expecting more innovation and continuing to change the world.