Despite years and years of disbelief, uncertainty, huge crashes and exchange hacks, digital currency Bitcoin has hit an iconic milestone, breaking through a $US10,000 ($13,000) value per coin today.
This marks a year of incredible growth for the blockchain-based currency, with the price per coin sitting at $US1000 in January, and fulfils a number of prophecies laid out by investors and speculators around the price of the cryptocurrency. Not JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon though, he thinks Bitcoin is “a fraud”.
The milestone also marks a significant moment for the cryptocurrency market as a whole, with the entire market capitalisation currently sitting over $US300 billion. This is in part due to the astounding growth of Bitcoin, but is also in part due to the similar growth seen in other coins such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and numerous other “altcoins”.
Bitcoin’s origin is shrouded in mystery, and the coin’s purpose today is a far cry from its original advertised use-case as a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system”. High transaction fees and similarly high transaction times has turned Bitcoin from a viable replacement for fiat currency into what many call “digital gold” — a decentralised value-store option.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
With the hype around the currency likely to continue across 2018 and perhaps beyond, here’s a few things you might not know about Satoshi Nakamoto’s groundbreaking technology, and a rundown on Bitcoin by the numbers.
10: The number of people who have claimed to be, or have been speculated to be the creator of Bitcoin Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was created in 2008 by an anonymous figure known only by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who was active in the development of the technology until 2010 when they disappeared. Many have speculated or claimed to be Nakamoto, including Australian academic Craig Wright, and recently SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s name was mentioned (though he has denied the claims). A wallet known to be owned by Nakamoto contains approximately $US9 billion in the currency.
0.08: The amount of US cents that Bitcoin first traded at in 2010.
Seven: The number of years it took for Bitcoin’s price to reach $US1300.
28: The number of days it took for the price to go from $2000 to $3000.
3: The number of days it took for the price to go from $9000 to $10,000.
194: The number of times Bitcoin has been proclaimed “dead” by publications, financial institutions, and investors. This includes times it was declared the price would go to zero, and the times the Bitcoin market was compared to the Dutch tulip bubble of 1637.
Two: The number of times Bitcoin has been “forked”. Late 2017 saw a number of contentious issues arise in the Bitcoin community around the best ways to help scale the coin as more and more users got on board. This lead to a number of members of the community supporting a different set of protocols for the Bitcoin chain, resulting in a split of the original chain, or a “fork”. This has happened twice so far, creating Bitcoin Cash (valued at $US1500) and Bitcoin Gold (valued at $US340), which all users who held Bitcoins received for free.
159: The number of countries which Bitcoin mining outranks electricity. The amount of energy expended mining Bitcoin globally now exceeds the energy consumption of more than 150 countries, and is on par with the annual electricity consumption of Morocco. Bitcoin is mined through high-powered computers solving complex equations, which in turn creates the “blocks” of the blockchain.
21 million: The total number of Bitcoin that will ever be created, speculated to be reached by 2040. Currently, there are 16.7 million Bitcoin in circulation.
4 million: The number of Bitcoin lost forever. A recent study reported by Forbes revealed that analysts believe 4 million in Bitcoin (around $US40 billion) is lost forever, either due to misplaced digital wallets, transactions sent to the wrong address, or just general carelessness. This number also includes the amount held in Nakamoto’s wallet, which is assumed to be out of circulation.
?: What the price will be in 12 months. Despite constant cries of “Ponzi scheme” and comparison to historic market bubbles, the cryptocurrency market is unlike any seen before, and Bitcoin’s $US10,000 price has defied all expectations.
The future for cryptocurrencies are entirely uncertain, especially with potential government regulation and traditional investor interest on the horizon. Only one thing is certain: the price will either go up or go down.