BITCOIN PRICE NEWS
It's been a rough few days for bitcoin. Towards the end of last week, news out of Russia and China hit press and book with its pretty substantial downside pressure on the bitcoin price. South Korea joined the fray at the start of this weekend and compounded the action. Now, however, it seems at least one of these regions is starting to reverse its bias – Russia.
First up, it's worth noting that much of the news and reports emanating from Russia right now seem to be conflicting with one another. It was only last week, after all, that we learned that policymakers in the nation want to restrict buying and selling of currency to the Moscow Stock Exchange, which, in turn, would restrict access to accredited investors.
We also learned that the government is considering setting up some sort of energy/bitcoin transfer service through which individuals can sell excess energy for bitcoin and vice versa. Fast forward to today and the latest news comes from this interview, as published by Russian media outlet Tass.ru at the site of this week.
As per the report,Deputy Prime Minister YuryTrutnev revealed that the Russian government has already approved a platform called Voskhod for cryptocurrency trading and that this entity is the first and only (right now) approved entity of its kind in the nation.
Chances are it will be government owned and run and as hinted at the interview, it seems only accredited investors will have access to the platform, but as a starting point, it's not a bad move by the Russians.
Some reading might already be familiar with the name –Voskhod was the name of the Soviet space program that beat the US's Gemini program to the first EVA (space walk) and, specifically, Voskhod1 and 2 were the names of the two spacecraft that spearheaded the program.
Whether this offers up any clues what Russian policymakers' intentions are (to once again get a jump on the Americans, perhaps?) is unclear.
The major news today isn't that the bitcoin price has risen by a couple of hundred dollars overnight, nor is it that any fresh company or nation has adopted bitcoin as acceptable tender. Instead, it's perception based.
Forbes just published this article titled:
Many reading will remember tens if not hundreds of articles over the last three or four years from the same outlet calling for the death of bitcoin, suggesting it's a temporary bubble and that all bubbles must pop. Keep in mind that most of these are written by the same author.
How the tables have turned.
The crux of the article in focus here is that bitcoin has become the new safe haven asset. This term refers to the asset that individuals flock to (in other words, buy) when there is a degree of uncertainty, or risk, surrounding things like the global economy, global politics or geopolitical stability.
For the past thousand years or more, gold has been the safe haven asset. As Forbes author Panos Mourdoukoutas now points out, there is a large degree of geopolitical uncertainty hanging over global economies right now. North Korea is firing missiles here there and everywhere. The state of US politics is in a practically never before seen mess. The European monetary system is unstable and its economic bloc has taken a huge hit with the UK set to leave and go it alone. Central banks across the globe don't know what to do with interest rates or whether anything they do decide to do is actually going to have any effect.
These are uncertain times and it's not gold that's rising in price – it's bitcoin.
Sure, some of the recent price rise in bitcoin is likely due to speculative acquisition on the back of the run that we have seen over the last few months; that's reasonable and to be expected. For years now, however, the cryptocurrency community has been pitching its poster boy as a potential risk off asset and – finally – it looks as though this pitch has been validated.
When bitcoin price surged past the $4,000 mark, prominent financial analysts including Brian Kelly attributed the upward momentum of bitcoin to an increase in demand from institutional and retail investors.
Earlier this week, the share price of GBTC, the Bitcoin Investment Trust operated by Grayscale Investments, a subsidiary company of Digital Currency Group, reached $908.6. Each share of GBTC represents the value of one tenth of bitcoin. Hence, a $908.6 per share equates to a price of $9,086 per bitcoin, which is substantially higher than the global average bitcoin trading price of $4.583 at the time of reporting.
By law, many corporations, investment banks and retail investors are only permitted to invest corporate, personal and client funds into regulated investment channels such as the stock market. Because GBTC is the only tradable bitcoin instrument in the US stock market, large-scale investors are required to purchase shares in GBTC in order to invest in bitcoin rather than purchasing bitcoin directly on trading platforms like Coinbase, GDAX, Bitfinex and Kraken.
Since 2016, GBTC has been trading at a high premium in the stock market primarily due to its limited supply and the continuous increase in demand from institutional investors. However, the premium rate of GBTC had never surpassed the 30 percent mark in the past. As of current, investors in the stock market are paying almost double the global average price of bitcoin to invest in the digital currency.
In terms of security and privacy, experts have always encouraged and advised investors to safely store their own private keys, and remain absolute control over their funds. Non-custodial bitcoin wallets such as Trezor, Ledger, Blockchain, KeepKey and Breadwallet enable bitcoin users to oversee their private keys, eliminating the possibility of hacking attacks and security breaches leading to the loss of user funds.
But, as mentioned above, a small portion of investors in the public market are required to invest through strictly regulated channels and at the moment, without the existence of any bitcoin ETF in the market, GBTC remains as the only option.
In the upcoming months, the entire ecosystem could change drastically for retail and institutional investors. Coinbase and its flagship trading platform GDAX along with Gemini, three of the largest exchanges in the US, announced that they are actively developing platforms to better serve large-scale investors.
Gemini in particular secured a strategic partnership with the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), the largest options exchange in the US, to provide an efficient and secure trading ecosystem for institutional investors. Earlier this month, Gemini co-founder and CEO Tyler Winklevoss stated:
Bitcoin price has surpassed the $4,000 mark and achieved its new all-time high at $4,419 in global average. The upward momentum of bitcoin price and increasing adoption from institutional investors have led to increasing mainstream coverage from networks like the Wall Street Journal, that have served the traditional finance sector over the past few decades.
WSJ today pic.twitter.com/bf0rB7eZx1— Alan Silbert (@alansilbert) August 14, 2017
Since early 2017, as major investment banks and firms including Fidelity, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan started to adopt and embrace bitcoin, mainstream media networks have begun to offer extensive coverage on bitcoin alongside precious metals such as gold and reserve currencies like the US dollar and the Chinese yuan.
In within 8 months, the bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets have matured significantly, with the cryptocurrency market cap increasing from around $10 to $140 billion. More importantly, the daily trading volume of bitcoin is closing on the $3 billion mark. Such rapid increase in the trading volume of bitcoin has demonstrated drastic improvement in bitcoin’s liquidity, which analysts including CNBC’s Brian Kelly emphasized as a key factor towards facilitating the rising demand from institutional investors.
For mainstream media companies like the Wall Street Journal and financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the cryptocurrency market due to its market cap and exponential growth. In fact, in a note to its investors, clients and portfolio managers, Goldman Sachs stated that bitcoin can no longer be disregarded.
Goldman Sachs also told its investors that the cryptocurrency market has grown to a point wherein investors that do not understand the technical intricacies of cryptocurrencies should still consider investing in the market due to its sheer rate of growth.
As major financial institutions including the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and leading bitcoin companies such as the $1.6 billion bitcoin wallet and trading platform Coinbase continue to target institutional and retail investors, mainstream adoption of bitcoin will continue to increase at a rapid rate.
Over the past week, many analysts including Panos Mourdoukoutas, Professor at LIU Post in New York and Columbia University, described the tension between the US and North Korea as one of the driving factors behind the recent rally of bitcoin price.
Since the beginning 2016, an increasing number of investors and traders have started to perceive and adopt bitcoin as a safe haven asset. Investors in China, the US and South Korea have begun to rely on bitcoin to avoid potential economic uncertainty and financial instability, as a means to protect their wealth.
Amidst serious international conflicts and build up of tension amongst leading economies such as the US, China, South Korea and Japan, the performance of stocks, currencies and assets tend to decline, except for safe haven assets such as gold and bitcoin. Mourdoukoutas explained that tensions in Asia have led to equity market sell-offs, leading to rising demand towards bitcoin, gold and US Treasuries. According to Mourdoukoutas, bitcoin has become the new hedge against global uncertainties.
For the most part, the assessment of Mourdoukoutas of bitcoin and the rise in the demand towards digital currencies is accurate. As a recent Business Insider report emphasized, bitcoin is immune to market volatility and international economic instability.
Hence, analysts including Mourdoukoutas have attributed the recent rally of the bitcoin price to an increase in demand from institutional and large-scale investors in the US and Asia that are looking to protect their wealth and portfolio from unexpected market instability. Considering the magnitude of the conflict between the US and North Korea, Mourdoukoutas noted that investors would rather hold bitcoin than any regional currency.
Earlier this week, the price of bitcoin surpassed $4,200, establishing its new all-time high and demonstrating the market’s overwhelming confidence in the digital currency’s ability to scale. More importantly, bitcoin has shown resilience towards the August 1 Bitcoin Cash hard fork, eliminating uncertainty in regards to a potential network split and restoring trust of investors and traders toward bitcoin.
In the upcoming weeks,, as tension amongst China, the US, North Korea and South Korea increases, the demand towards safe haven assets like bitcoin will likely increase, sustaining bitcoin’s current upward momentum.
The Bitcoin Core development team’s transaction malleability fix and scaling solution Segregated Witness (SegWit) is set to be activated today, on August 8. Literally hours after initial reporting from Bitconnect, SegWit will be live and integrated into the bitcoin network.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, SegWit is expected to optimize bitcoin blocks and transactions by at least 75 percent. As of current, most bitcoin fee estimators including that of Blockchain, the second largest wallet platform within the bitcoin industry, are recommending a standard fee of around 50 cents, given that a transaction is median-sized. With SegWit in place, bitcoin transaction fee will likely decrease to around $0.1, allowing users to utilize bitcoin as a currency without having to handle high fees and slow transaction periods.
SegWit’s effect on the trend of the bitcoin price has been quite evident. Over the past week, the price of bitcoin increased from around $2,700 to over $3,400, triggered by the imminence of SegWit activation and the bitcoin community’s anticipation towards the integration of the solution.
The activation of SegWit presents a notable achievement for the bitcoin industry, developers and mining community. It is the first real milestone achieved by bitcoin communities in terms of scaling the bitcoin network with consensus and unified vision. As a result, the market, investors, and traders have gained increased confidence and trust in bitcoin and its ability to scale in the short-term.
In addition to decreasing transaction fees and optimizing bitcoin blocks, SegWit will also provide infrastructure for two-layer solutions such as the Lightning Network, which when activated will also provide additional scaling to the bitcoin network beneficial for businesses and users.
However, Rusty Russell, a developer and engineer at Blockstream, explained in analytical paper that bitcoin fees will continue to rise from now on, regardless of the activation of SegWit. Russell noted that businesses and users should get ready for such an increase in fees.
He further emphasized that initial criticisms in bitcoin when it was pitched by Satoshi Nakamoto to cypherpunks was its struggle to scale proportionally. Russell and the rest of the Bitcoin Core development team will continue to work on solutions including SegWit and Lightning to further scale the bitcoin network.
On July 21. Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP 91) was officially locked in, confirming the activation of the Bitcoin Core development team’s transaction malleability fix and scaling solution Segregated Witness (Segwit).
Prior to the lock-in of BIP 91, its 80 percent activation threshold was achieved on July 16 and since then, the market has been reacting optimistically to the future of bitcoin and its scalability moving forward. Within a 5-day period, bitcoin price increased from $1,850 to $2,750, recording a $900 increase.
Bitcoin wallet service providers and trading platforms including Coinbase experienced a rapid increase in user growth, as Coinbase recorded 100,000 new users in the past three days. Trading volumes of bitcoin trading platforms also increased, as investors and traders regained trust in bitcoin and its upward momentum.
Altana Digital Currency Fund’s investor Alistair Milne revealed:
In June, bitcoin price achieved its new all-time high at $3,095 and as bitcoin price increased exponentially, new investors emerged on platforms such as Coinbase to purchase bitcoin. However, as bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency market endured a major market correction, many traders panic sold, due to the fear of an upcoming hard fork.
With Segwit activation in sight, in the foreseeable future, the execution of a hard fork and chain split, or the creation of another bitcoin blockchain, is highly unlikely. Bitmain, the most influential bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer and parent company behind the market’s largest bitcoin mining pool Antpool, threatened to execute a hard fork and create a new bitcoin called Bitcoin Cash earlier last month.
As of now, Bitmain remains as a strong supporter of BIP 91 and the Digital Currency Group-led Segwit2x. It is likely that the mining community will encourage a hard fork execution to increase the bitcoin block size by 2 MB in the upcoming months but depending on the Bitcoin Core development team and the industry, the hard fork could result in a secure, safe and clean protocol update.
Still, despite the rising demand toward bitcoin and the confidence from traders and investors, Bitcoin Core developer Peter Todd told the community that BIP 91 lock-in does not guarantee the activation of Segwit.
Bill Miller, the prominent investment guru behind Bill Miller’s Opportunity Trust and Legg Mason, has invested 1 percent of his net worth in bitcoin.
Sources including Zerohedge have revealed that Forbes declined to reveal the net worth of Bill Miller back in 2014. However, a few years back, Miller bought stake from three hedge funds operated by the $3.6 billion investment firm Legg Mason, terminating his 35-year relationship with the investment firm.
Currently, Legg Mason manages $728 billion assets and the split between Miller and Legg Mason led to the emergence of Bill Miller’s Opportunity Trust, which is managing over a billion dollar worth of assets this year.
Since early 2017, Miller and his team at Bill Miller’s Opportunity Trust has made strong returns from the company’s investment in Apple Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Restoration Hardware. Technology companies including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have been some of the best formers in the US stock market, with J.P Morgan Chase, one of Miller’s “hot picks” recording an overwhelming performance along with other financial service providers.
Miller has seen tremendous success since his leave from Legg Mason, including his bitcoin investment in 2014. Miller attributed his success to the fact that he does not have to pitch his investments and receive approval from Legg Mason executives.
More to that, Miller is the largest investor in all of the three funds the company manages, which further increased the trust of investors toward Miller’s Opportunity Trust.
In 2017, most of Miller’s stocks have made over 50 percent in return. With Segregated Witness, the transaction malleability fix and scaling solution developed by the Bitcoin Core development, activation in sight, Miller’s bitcoin investment is also set to see huge returns throughout this year.
Although Miller’s exact net worth has not been disclosed, analysts predict it to be at least a few hundred million dollars. Hence, if Miller had invested 1 percent of his net worth in 2014, he bought a few million dollars worth of bitcoin in 2014, when the price of bitcoin was around $400.
At the moment, the price of bitcoin is close to $2,400, which means a 500 percent gain for Miller within a three year period. In 2014, Miller told analysts and the media that he is looking for a 1,000 percent gain with his multi-million dollar investment in bitcoin.
As bitcoin continues to mature, an increasing number of institutional and high profile investors will invest in bitcoin. Investors are acknowledging bitcoin as a safe haven asset, long-term investment and digital currency.
The speed in which bitcoin transactions are approved, confirmed and verified by miners across the globe largely depend on the size of the bitcoin mempool and blocks. The optimal or recommended fee also depends on the size of the bitcoin mempool. Users may spend only a fraction of the usual transaction fee if the size of the bitcoin mempool significantly decreases.
The size of the bitcoin mempool represents the aggregate size of transactions waiting to be confirmed. In essence, bitcoin mempool is the holding area for all transactions waiting to be picked up and confirmed by bitcoin miners.
Over the past few months, since the beginning of 2017, bitcoin fees have increased substantially, to a staggering $2 average fee. Various bitcoin fee estimators including 21 Inc’s Bitcoin Fees show that the fastest and cheapest transaction fee at the time of reporting is 74,580 satoshis or 330 satoshis/byte, considering the size of median bitcoin transaction which currently stands at around 226 bytes.
In January, the recommended fee for bitcoin transactions remained below $1. Over the past six months, the bitcoin mempool demonstrated a strange development trend. The mempool, which often cleared the majority of transactions over the weekend, started to struggle in clearing transactions. The size of the mempool surpassed 100 million bytes and for a substantial period of time, the size of the bitcoin mempool stayed in the 100 million-byte region.
Many analysts and investors have stated in the past that the explosive growth of the bitcoin mempool is likely manufactured and filled with spam transactions. Bitcoin Core developers including Luke Dashjr also stated in the past that there are some activities within the community to intentionally spam the bitcoin network to increase bitcoin block size and push an agenda for scaling.
A chart shared by Alistair Milne, a bitcoin investor at Altana Digital Currency Fund, revealed that the year-long trend of the bitcoin mempool size and development has been disproportionate and irregular. An increasing number of analysts have begun to speculate that the development of the bitcoin fee market and mempool size have been manipulated.
This is Bitcoin's mempool since the beginning of the year— Alistair Milne (@alistairmilne) June 19, 2017
Was the backlog since May fake/manufactured? I'll let you decide! pic.twitter.com/hL0VBWIqRO
As the size of the bitcoin mempool began to drop, recommended bitcoin fees also started to decrease, making it easier for bitcoin users to send and receive transactions. The average recommended fee dropped back to the $1 region and bitcoin fee estimators of most wallet platforms are recommending a fee that is lower than 300 satoshis / byte, which usually results in a fee of around $1.5.
Bitcoin is being traded at above the $1,700 margin and in some markets such as South Korea, it is being traded at over $1,900. Meanwhile, the market cap of alternative cryptocurrencies or altcoins including Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin have fallen significantly over the past 24 hours.
As seen in the chart above, every altcoin on the global top 10 cryptocurrency chart by market capitalization fell significantly. With the exception of bitcoin, the other nine cryptocurrencies including Ripple, Litecoin, NEM and Ethereum Classic experienced heavy fluctuation in a relatively short period of 24 hours, decreasing by nearly 20 percent in price.
Ripple for instance took over Ethereum to become the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap on May 8 briefly. However, due to its short-term fall in price, RIpple’s market cap declined by nearly $3 billion in the past 48 hours.
While there exists no conclusive evidence to prove the relationship between the price trend of bitcoin and altcoins, it is quite evident that the decline in altcoins often lead to the rise in bitcoin price. One unique component of this hypothetical yet evident relationship between bitcoin and altcoins is that the altcoin market is benefiting from bitcoin’s explosive growth in countries as Japan, the US and South Korea. In other words, when altcoins increase in value, most times, bitcoin also demonstrates a slight surge in its value because the entire cryptocurrency market is seeing a rise in demand.
Specifically, when Litecoin at last activated the highly anticipated and long awaited Segregated Witness (Segwit), the transaction malleability fix and scaling solution developed by the Bitcoin Core development team, bitcoin price gained an upward momentum with Litecoin, due to the community’s optimism toward bitcoin. Perceiving Litecoin as a testbed for bitcoin, which conceptually is appropriate due to the similarity between the two cryptocurrencies’ structure, an increasing number of investors stated to invest in bitcoin.
However, today’s short term decrease of altcoins seems to have stemmed from security issues of Poloniex, the largest altcoin exchange in the global market. Earlier today, Poloniex fell victim to a DDoS attack and was force to mitigate the attacks to continue its services. More to that, bitcoin enthusiast Charlie Shrem harshly criticized Poloniex at the Toronto bitcoin meetup, calling Poloniex “the biggest danger” in the cryptocurrency space.
Whether the short term fluctuation of altcoins had to do with issues of Poloniex or was just simply daily volatility is not an important discussion point to lead. What needs to be discussed is the extreme volatility which altcoins demonstrate on a regular basis. It is difficult to justify the market cap and actual value of cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Ripple, the second and third largest cryptocurrencies, if their market cap fluctuations by billions overnight.