Monday, January 18, 2016

Bitcoin Use Reaches Record Levels, Despite Its 2014 Fiasco

Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency used for anonymity on the web, was once the hottest thing on the cyber market. Everyone thought it was a great innovation that allowed for improved online privacy for transactions. Thanks to some rather complicated matters, though, Bitcoin took a nosedive and has needed some time to get back on its feet. Now, it seems people are finally using Bitcoin again, and in a never before seen quantity.
The fall of Bitcoin, according to WIRED magazine, is directly linked to the falling through of a major Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, as well as the sketchy activity associated with Silk Road, the online drug trafficking market that enjoyed the anonymity of Bitcoin. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Mt. Gox was responsible for handling nearly 70 percent of all Bitcoin transactions. However, following an immense hacking attack, which left over $450 million worth of Bitcoin missing or stolen, Mt. Gox was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2014. Authorities claim that the screw-up was caused by a relative lack of management, experience, and apathy.
As you can imagine, losing 850,000 Bitcoins is pretty shocking, especially since nobody knew where they went. The estimated worth of these Bitcoins at the time of the theft was greater than $450 million, making it a massive, crippling heist. By all logic, Bitcoin should be a thing of the past, used only by hackers and those with questionable motives; but here’s the kicker. Bitcoin is being used more than ever before. In fact, its usage per day peaked in late December 2015, perhaps in response to the holiday season.
ib graph 1
Bitcoin’s main draw for investors is the technology behind it, known as the blockchain, which many believe can be used for stock exchanges and other purposes. As defined by WIRED:
The blockchain is essentially a database running across a vast array of independent machines. With Bitcoin, it oversees the exchange of money. But it can oversee the exchange of anything that holds value, including stocks, bonds, and futures as well as houses and car titles.
There are plenty of Bitcoin startups and veteran organizations alike who want to use the blockchain technology to make Bitcoin more usable, including Coinbase, a Bitcoin exchange company in San Francisco, California. Their most notable contribution is the development of a Bitcoin debit card, which allows users to spend Bitcoin anywhere that accepts a VISA card. The main draw of doing this is that organizations can avoid the processing fees associated with credit card transactions, so the idea is that businesses will start to accept Bitcoin as payment without the cards in the future. Wouldn’t that be something?
With all of these new developments in Bitcoin technology, perhaps we’ll see a world where Bitcoin is used by more than just people who have something to hide. Maybe we’ll even see an increase in use of other kinds of cryptocurrency, including everyone’s favorite, Dogecoin-- the adorable cryptocurrency based on the derpy charm of a goofy Shiba Inu dog.
ib doge 1
What are your thoughts on the return of Bitcoin? Are you an avid user of the cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments.

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