Surely it cannot be long now before the rights to “Bitcoin – The Movie” are sold. If recent history is anything to go by, if somebody sold them now at the current bitcoin / dollar exchange rate, for £1 million, by the time of the film’s release they could be worth as much as…well, nobody knows in reality, but nearly everybody has an opinion now.
A movie would also be a great opportunity for the Winklevoss twins to reprise the roles they had in the last movie about entrepreneurs, disruptive products, billionaires and controversy – The Social Network. In this version, however, it looks like the twins could be the stars of the show.
To find out why, plus 4 more reasons to be cheerful about bitcoin, read our 5 reasons below outlining why its perfectly possible that the price of bitcoin which keeps on going up, and up, and up, and down a bit (hard / soft fork?), and then up again – is not finished yet – not, perhaps, by a long shot.
1/ Bitcoin is shedding its bad boy reputation
In our movie, if it was to be a faithful biopic, the opening scenes detailing bitcoin’s early life would feature some pretty nasty characters; drug dealers, terrorists, money launderers; because when bitcoin first entered the public consciousness, despite its roots in advanced mathematics and bleeding edge tech, bitcoin was regarded as the currency of the criminal.
But the good will out, as they say, and although bitcoin is nowhere near clear of controversy (reports emerged today that drug gangs in London are using bitcoin ATMs to launder money), the underlying tech – based on blockchain technology, has preserved its reputation.
Bitcoin is now regarded as the most successful currency that runs using blockchain technology; there are others; Ethereum, Zcash, Dash, Ripple, but bitcoin is the runaway success – the Facebook of digital currency, if you like.
The currency’s market cap, at $190 billion, according to Coinmarketcap, dwarfs the next largest, Ethereum, at $44 billion, and in third place is…bitcoin cash – the result of bitcoin’s much publicised “hard fork”, which is another reason to be cheerful by the way. Many analysts felt the hard fork would cause the currency too many problems, but so far the arguments over processing times (the reason for the hard fork) have failed to derail it.
Given that the stock market reflects sentiment and trust as much as anything else – bitcoin’s sky-high valuation is self-evident proof that it is more highly thought of than ever. Variously described as a “fraud”, “scam”, and “a bubble”, bitcoin is currently ramming those words back down the naysayer’s throats.
2/ Bitcoin has its own futures market(s)
At the end of October, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the world leading derivatives marketplace, announced that it will be launching a bitcoin futures market before the end of 2017, pending regulatory reviews.
This is, quite simply, huge for bitcoin; it gives the currency legitimacy in the eyes of traders, and the wider financial markets.
By being accepted into this exclusive club of things that can be bought, sold and speculated with on the world’s financial markets, bitcoin has taken a significant step forward.
There is now a CME CF Bitcoin Real Time Index providing price transparency for bitcoin. The bitcoin spot market has already grown to trade approximately $1.5 billion in notional value each day.
Joining the CME as a commodity will help bitcoin in many ways. It may become more regulated, which will help to ease its volatility – although others may argue that bitcoin is becoming “just another currency”, like its fiat cousins, by entering the mainstream financial markets.
Rumour has it that the NASDAQ exchange is now considering offering bitcoin futures. This is a clear sign that institutional money wants to get involved with the digital currency – and that is, more likely than not, good news for early bitcoin investors – at least in terms of short-term profit taking – long term, as mentioned, some may start to think bitcoin is “selling out”.
3/ Bitcoin’s “first mover” advantage
Why did we end up on Facebook instead of Myspace? How come we “Google” stuff we want to know, rather than “Yahooing” it or Asking Jeeves?
The truth is that there is a colossal element of luck (to go with colossal elements of skill and timing) behind the success of any product, and particularly where new technology is concerned. It’s rare to find one company that is technologically far in advance of its peers, but very common to find that one company emerges as the dominant player within a market.
This is what has happened with bitcoin. It was the first example of a digital currency to enter the public consciousness, and whether it is the best or not is almost irrelevant – by being first on the scene, bitcoin has gained a massive “first mover” advantage over other digital currencies. (Of course nobody truly owns bitcoin, so it is not like traditional companies, or even non-traditional ones. It is a phenomenon, with no shareholders, or a CEO, but that does not necessarily mean that it cannot be controlled.)
But, as everybody knows, Myspace pre-dated Facebook, and look what happened there, you might argue.
Crucially, however, it was Facebook that was front and centre when the world began to understand how social media worked, and just how powerful it could be. The same is happening now with digital currencies -the world, from large corporates, to tech billionaires, to us, the public, is waking up to the fact that digital currencies are a good idea – and this has come at the perfect time for the resilient, attention grabbing bitcoin.
4/ Bitcoin is not just a passing fancy, it has intellectual weight
The blockchain is not just about money – far from it. A recent paper published by a House of Lords committee discusses how the blockchain could revolutionise areas such as immigration records, patient health data and many different forms of record keeping. Blockchain’s “distributed ledger technology”, or DLT for short, is in demand within almost every industry you can think of – not just the financial markets.
Bitcoin is simply a currency built on blockchain technology, which means decentralised, anonymised, protected, irreversible, and unable to be tampered with.
This means that, when people talk about a bitcoin bubble, it is a bit like the dotcom boom at the turn of the millennium. Yes, there was a bubble; yes, many companies were ridiculously overvalued, and yes, many people lost fortunes backing them, but bitcoin has already proved shock-absorbent, and does not look like it is going anywhere. We already know the price can drop like a stone, before rising like an Eagle.
Because the underlying ideas are considered to be sound, bitcoin can withstand such volatility. Again, you could argue that Mortgage Backed Securities were once considered a sound investment – before they triggered a global financial collapse in 2017. The difference is that MBS, CDOs etc. were created by bankers. Bitcoin is a tech product, and tech has always been about progress, rather than short-term profit-taking.
5/ The Winklevoss twins!
Two of the “noughties” most notorious losers, according to the Facebook creation myth, were the Winklevoss Twins, who claimed Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea but lost out in the courts.
But they have plenty to be cheerful about in 2017. According to disclosures from 2013, the twins invested their Facebook court pay-out of £11 million dollars into bitcoin – which would work out today at a holding worth more than $1 billion.
For good measure, the twins have also invested in their own crypto-currency exchange – called Gemini, for obvious reasons.
Now, if bitcoin can turn around the fortunes of the “dumb and dumber” of the social media world, imagine what else it must be capable of!
We joke of course; they deserve credit for backing an idea when it was deeply unfashionable, sticking by it during the tough times when nobody wanted to know, and slowly but surely guiding the whole concept of bitcoin towards respectability.
Conclusion: the internet was once dismissed as a bubble, but for better or worse it gave us Facebook. The blockchain, for better or worse, has given us bitcoin, and whatever you may think of it – at this moment it seems highly unlikely that the digital currency will simply disappear. Stranger things have happened, of course, but it will take one almighty Black Swan to wipe the smiles of bitcoin investor’s faces right now.
The big question is, will the guardians of bitcoin’s future prove to be as resourceful, diplomatic and influential as the guardians of Social Media’s?