Cryptocurrency has made headlines all throughout 2017, setting records and making splashes throughout finance, government, technology, and other areas. We have seen immense growth and development in cryptocurrencies, not just in the numbers that express value, but also the numbers that represent richer engagement. In just a few years, cryptocurrency has gone from being an underground alternative banking system for the tech savvy, to a nearly mainstream transaction and investment vehicle that has largely beaten the stigma it once had. This puts cryptocurrency on an even more exciting trajectory for 2018 and beyond.
To recap some of the most noteworthy happenings of 2017 for cryptocurrency, we have narrowed down the nine most defining occurrences so that we can look back on how far we’ve come, what challenges we’ve faced, and set the scene for the next stages of the cryptocurrency boom as it continues.
Many big players
It’s not just Bitcoin and Ethereum that are the significant players in cryptocurrency. There are now over 250 coins and tokens with more than $1 MM in daily trading volume. Of these, more than 25 have a daily trading volume above $100 MM. The marketplace is diversifying successfully, which is a positive sign of both innovation and growth.
Quadruple-digit growth across the board
The numbers here speak for themselves, for 2017 alone…
Dash grew by more than 1,000% ($11.20 to $1,381).
Bitcoin grew by more than 1,400% ($997.69 to $14,400)
Monero grew by more than 2,500% ($14.25 to $403).
Litecoin grew by more than 7,000% ($4.35 to $306).
Ethereum grew by more than 9,000% ($8.13 to $790).
Ripple grew by more than 11,000% (0.00642 of $0.01 to $1.13)
Total market cap over $600bn
Cumulatively, nearly 1,400 cryptocurrencies are approaching $600bn in market capitalization. To put that into perspective, $600bn is slightly more than Sweden’s 2016 GDP, about double Israel’s 2016 GDP, and about half of Australia’s 2016 GDP. Cryptocurrency is more than just a technology experiment; it is a fixture in the major leagues of finance.
Winklevoss ETF denied by SEC
Not all of the news is good. In March, the Securities and Exchange Commission denied the application for the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF, stating that it was too susceptible to fraud. This has the possibility of changing in the near future as governments’ stances on cryptocurrencies evolve.
Bitcoin Cash was born
In August, a hard fork of Bitcoin was created called Bitcoin Cash, a derivative cryptocurrency of Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash has an eight megabyte block size limit (as opposed to Bitcoin’s one megabyte limit). This change addresses scalability concerns over Bitcoin’s potential to grow beyond its current trading volumes with block sizes that may be too small. Coinbase issued users one Bitcoin Cash in exchange for one Bitcoin.
More mainstream acceptance
Contrary to concerns with regard to the usability of cryptocurrency, Overstock.com began to accept cryptocurrency as payment in August. Additionally, Craigslist began to offer cryptocurrency payment options in December.
Even more mainstream acceptance
The first home sale in the United States done in Bitcoin took place in September. It was brokered by Texas-based brokerage Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty. The details of this transaction are scarce. Though it appears to have inspired similar market activity, with many new listings stating an asking price in Bitcoin.
More government crackdowns
In November, a California federal court ruled that cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase must provide information on more than 14,000 users who each held more than $20,000 in cryptocurrencies on the platform.
Integration into high finance
Goldman Sachs announced in December that they would set up a cryptocurrency trading desk in 2018. In that same month, Bitcoin made a debut on both Cboe and CME for trading futures. The futures contract for Cboe represents one Bitcoin, and CME’s futures contract represents five Bitcoins.