2018 started off with a boom as digital currencies recorded their highest prices ever, breaking record after record. But as 2018 comes to a close these prosperous times have become a faded memory. Markets were wiped out of over $US700 billion and crashed by more than 80%. Many newbie traders have exited the markets after being burnt, and only those who bought early in 2017 did not suffer massive losses.
Furthermore, one of the largest hacks in history took place in January 2018 when Japanese exchange Coincheck lost over US$500 million in digital tokens. By early February, Bitcoin had crashed by over 60% and most of the initial coin offering projects held the previous year had failed to reach their targets.
Apart from the year-long bear market, there have been numerous important developments in the crypto-currency and blockchain industry during this year.
For example, in March the G20 Financial Stability Board announced that digital currencies were not a threat to the global banking system which helped boost this nascent industry.
The NASDAQ also began to dabble in crypto-currencies by April. The CEO revealed plans to get into the industry. Goldman Sachs was also rumoured to be entering the market, however, this remained a rumour and the Wall Street bank had yet to make any official announcements. Unfortunately, the hope of financial institutions getting involved was not enough to keep markets from dipping further.
By mid-2018, tech giants Facebook and Google banned crypto advertising but still permitted scams to proliferate on their platforms. They have both since partially lifted this ban, recognizing the power of the dollar outweighs any moral obligations they may have towards their users.
In August regulators got involved, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission being the heaviest. Nine crypto-currency ETFs were rejected by Washington, such as one from the Winklevoss twins who have since launched the Gemini exchange and their own stablecoin, GUSD.
In September and October markets plateaued and remained in a sideways channel for 10 weeks. October also saw the 10th anniversary of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper.
By November rival clans of the Bitcoin Cash communities fought online as a hark fork, or split blockchain, neared. This seemed to speed up market losses which fell through the floor in mid-November, dumping 50 percent in mere weeks.
By December crypto-currency prices were at an all-time low and mainstream media was having a ball spreading stories of doom and gloom.
In Asia, China has continued to try and ban anything crypto related, and India has also seen no real progress for the crypto industry. Japan and South Korea have been developing regulatory frameworks to protect investors from scams and Singapore has positioned itself as the blockchain hub of the area.
Moreover, Thailand and the Philippines adopted a more welcoming approach to digital assets this year.
The big crypto exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, and Huobi have been boldly expanding despite the bear market. Switzerland and Malta have become premier destinations for crypto startups.
What’s more, Ripple, the San Francisco-based fintech company has recruited over 100 banking partners to its payments network and its XRP token is now the second most popular cryptocurrency in the world, after Bitcoin. Ethereum has dipped in popularity, for now, as the ICO market has come to a stop and it has still not solved its issues with scalability.
Mainstream media has taken a keen interest in crypto-currencies this year, with almost every outlet covering some aspect of the industry. Bitcoin has now become a household name, while only a couple of years ago it was a thing for tech saavy types.
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