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April Recap: Robust Growth of Bitcoin Ecosystem Amid Tightening Rules in China

April 25, 2014 at 23:38 by BitcoinNews

In the past month, the price of bitcoin has continued to face extra volatility from conflicting reports of tightening rules– or even an outright ban– on China’s banks opening commercial accounts for bitcoin-related businesses, particularly exchanges. The price of bitcoin fell by about $40 Friday on the latest announcement, though traders may be getting wary of reacting after a number of these conflicting reports on banking rules for China’s fledgling exchanges have created volatility in price while the situation for China’s exchanges nevertheless remains unclear.

The latest rumors appeared to be that Chinese banks were criticized by the PBOC for skirting new bank account restrictions by opening up special voucher accounts that continued to allow exchanges to conduct transactions on the Renminbi side. As with many of reports of such tightening moves, this one doesn’t have much confirmation yet.

Indeed, the markets for bitcoin may have grown weary of reacting after a number of such announcements since at least December, as the price has dipped much less than it had on similar rumors. Discussions of whether this trend is abating have dominated speculation on reddit forums, with two of today’s top threads on reddit’s r/bitcoin forum taking a skeptical look at the frequency of recent rumors and/or actual official statements from China’s PBOC. Though some may have gotten whiplash trading on such reports a half dozen times, those wary commentators count all of the rumors as well as official pronouncements.

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After an initial plunge, prices have tended to bounce back as traders snatch up cheaper bitcoin. Furthermore, just because prices moved doesn’t necessarily indicate a supposed insider actually profited from the information. The bottom line is that if there have really been a half-dozen or more fake-outs in the bitcoin market, then traders would be less likely to sell into that type of announcement going forward.

Unique visitors to the r/bitcoin forum is still healthy on a daily basis, though the trend has declined coincidentally with prices (see charts below). Page views are down as well, indicating that perhaps bitcoin buzz in the popular press has worn out viewers to some extent. If you’re looking for more speculative views on prices, the daily discussions in the r/bitcoinmarkets forum are dedicated to price patterns and trends.  This is one indicator to keep an eye on, as bitcoin prices have tended to bottom out with news and search trends on the topic.

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While bitcoin markets have remained volatile, the intended use of bitcoin as a digital technology continues to thrive, according to Coindesk’s update to its Q1 Bitcoin Report this week. The metrics on bitcoin’s growth continue to be astounding. With $154M total in investment in start-ups so far, it’s expected to rise to $200M by year end. Several million wallets indicates a probable million+ users worldwide. Coinbase remains the leader in funding at $25M, but in Q1 Xapo got $20M and Circle $17M. 500Startups gave $100K each to 5 companies.

Furthermore, 60,000 businesses now accept bitcoin—though many of these are in North America, Coindesk still expects bitcoin to have a dramatic boom in the developing world as well. Bitcoin may particularly help the developing world to leap-frog over credit cards as it leaped over telephone land lines.

Additionally due to the lack of credit cards, approximately 65% and 35% of all e-commerce in China and India respectively is conducted with cash. Moreover, over 100 countries have money supplies (M1) of lower value than bitcoin, which is right around the middle of the list already, and 70 countries have very high inflation (a poor store of value), the top 10 all over 18% annually. Many of these countries lack even formal banking systems.

However, regardless of Bitcoin continuing to come up short of its great potential impact on the developing world, the dynamic intersection of so many areas like finance, technology, and policy looks set to continue driving interest in the digital currency.

However, it’s not only bitcoin-related start-ups that have benefited. Small businesses in particular have warmed to bitcoin, as Coindesk reports small businesses finding success in accepting it. The larger effect on a small business seems to come from riding the bitcoin buzz, riding the coattails of a popular trend. Many people found out about these businesses only because they made the association with bitcoin, even though in the music school, only one customer actually paid in bitcoin.

On a side note, one unique event coming up in May is billing itself as the world’s first bitcoin jobs fair. In Sunnyvale, CA, the event includes digital currency and a number of bitcoin-related employers.

Regardless of any customer growth from publicity, restaurateur Pappas added the benefits of bitcoin were clear: “From a business standpoint, it cuts out the middle man and eliminates any transaction or credit card fees. Also, by accepting bitcoin we are the ones accepting the volatility and the risk, not my customers. That was important to me.” Since he’s followed bitcoin from a value of $30, accepting bitcoin at the Grill was a natural move for him and a bet on bitcoin continuing to grow in usage.

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