Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies in general can be expected to be even more significant this year after surging in prominence, value and importance over the past year.
Proponents see blockchain as the future of security. They see bitcoin and its like as a revolution in stores of value. Others see a bubble in the making. Either way, we’re determined to track the subject – several of our most popular stories last year were about cryptocurrencies. Help us build this timeline of the major or just intriguing developments in bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies.
- Bitcoin’s value dropped 50 percent to below $10,000, a massive blow to the crypto-community after touching almost $20,000 at the end of 2017 (The Verge). Following the plunge, Reddit’s cryptocurrency page posted a link to the U.S. national suicide hotline, saying that: “The hardest hit people are one of the following: Newcomers, Margin Traders, or Day-Traders (and those in Bitconnect [exchange platform]).”
- Bitconnect, the bitcoin lending and exchange platform which has long been accused of running a Ponzi scheme, announced that it is shutting down. It said in a statement that the shutdown was in part due to continuous “bad press,” and that while it will close for lending and exchange, it will continue to operate for “wallet service, news and educational purposes.”
- Bloomberg reported that China is “escalating” a crackdown of cryptocurrencies by targeting “exchange-like services” including online platforms and mobile apps. Despite banning cryptocurrency exchanges last year, Chinese authorities have noticed a rise in activity on alternative platforms. China was one of the most active markets for bitcoin, but since Beijing’s crackdown the cryptocurrency has seen a large drop in value.
- France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire said that the country is creating a group to study cryptocurrencies while proposing guidelines for regulations, as reported by Bitcoin.com. Le Maire has appointed Jean-Pierre Landau, a former deputy governor of the Banque de France, to lead the group.
- Joachim Wuermeling, a member of the board of Germany’s Bundesbank, said that attempts to regulate bitcoin must be through international cooperation as it’s hard to enforce national or regional regulations on a currency that exists through a borderless, virtual community.
- The price of bitcoin plummeted after South Korea’s government said it plans to ban cryptocurrency trading. Seoul’s justice minister said that bitcoin was causing the government “great concern.” Its law enforcement agencies are also raiding local cryptocurrency exchanges to look into tax evasion, including two of the nation’s largest: Bithumb and Coinone.
- Photo company Eastman Kodak is launching its own cryptocurrency called KodakCoin, resulting in its shares soaring to nearly 120 percent. KodakCoin is part of a blockchain-based plan to help photographers own image rights and receive payments.
- JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told Fox Business he “regrets” calling bitcoin a “fraud”. Last September he branded it a fraud adding that “the currency isn’t going to work.” Larry Fink, another high-profile executive, at BlackRock, likened the demand for bitcoin to the “demand for money laundering.” (Financial Times)
- The popular messaging app Telegram plans to launch its own blockchain platform and cryptocurrency, according to an exclusive by Cointelegraph. Anton Rozenberg, a former employee of Telegram’s publishing division, Telegraph, posted a video on Facebook promoting Telegram’s new blockchain platform, called “Telegram Open Network.” (TON)
- Telegram recently came under fire during protests in Iran. (Read more: our analysis)
- Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam – the highest official of religious law – declared trading on bitcoin as “forbidden” in Islam. In a strongly worded fatwa (religious edict), Allam said the cryptocurrency risks “fraudulence, lack of knowledge, and cheating”.
- The Wall Street Journal reported that Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund bought around $15-to-$20 million of dollars in Bitcoin. The report did not confirm whether the fund sold any of its holdings.
- Thiel is known for co-founding PayPal and being an early investor in Facebook.
- Read more: Why digital money is here to stay by WikiTribune community member Miguel A. Torres.
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