The days go by and the records keep coming for bitcoin, the first of the world’s cryptocurrencies. The symbolic milestone of $7,000 was crossed on November 2nd, and then jumping to $7,392 the next day.
The year 2017 marks a veritable time of the cryptographic currency. Investors asking to buy bitcoins, its course has soared more than 630% over the year. And it only took four days to go from $6,000 to $7,000, when it took 873 days to break the first $1,000.
And yet, this surge of virtual currency over the year is still nothing compared to the course since its inception in 2009. Its first reference price was only posted on October 5 of that year at $0.001. Which means that the value of bitcoin has grown by nearly 7.4 million in just eight years!
For now, its capitalization – that is to say, the cumulative valuation of all the bitcoins created since the beginning, about 16.66 million units out of a maximum of 21 million – reached 122 billion dollars.
With bitcoin, all the cryptographic currencies are blazing. Nearly 900 different cryptocurrencies have been launched in recent years, for a cumulative capitalization of 198 billion dollars. But most have a modest existence, with a small community of users and often non-existent exchanges.
On the other hand, bitcoin wins the bet. Its capitalization is 4.3 times greater than that of Ethereum, its closest rival ($ 28.2 billion) and 100 times heavier than Monero ($ 1.33 billion), yet ranked 10th.
A speculative bubble in debate
The causes of the outburst of this decentralized currency, devoid of any controlling authority, divide the observers.
It is on the side of large banks that the charges are the most numerous. Last September, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of the US bank JPMorgan, opened fire calling the bitcoin a “sham”.
Last week, Tidjane Thiam, Executive Director of Credit Suisse, did not hide his own skepticism when presenting the bank’s results: “From what we can identify, the only reason today for buying or to sell bitcoin is to make money, which is the very definition of speculation and the very characterization of a bubble. ”
A judgment shared by Séverin Cabannes, Chief Executive Officer of Société Générale: “Bitcoin is, from my point of view, clearly a bubble.”
A recent study by SEMrush, an Internet search analytics company, estimates that there is a 91% correlation between rising prices and searches for the word bitcoin on the Google search engine.
The debates stir all financial stakeholders, including the monetary authorities. The field is vast, be it the very nature of this digital object – is it a currency or a commodity? – or potential applications of the blockchain technology on which supports cryptocurrency.
In China, the power announces with regularity a hardening of the controls, without reaching it. In Japan, bitcoin is now granted legal status as a means of payment.
In fact, the signs of institutionalization of this digital currency are increasing.
Goldman Sachs, ready to take the plunge
The attitude of Goldman Sachs illustrates the disbelief of traditional banks in the face of this unidentified monetary object. Its general manager, Lloyd Blankfein, is uncomfortable with bitcoin, but his bank seems less reluctant because it has set up, on behalf of its customers, a trading team dedicated to cryptocurrencies.
Also in the United States, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Group), the Derivatives Exchange, has indicated it will prepare the launch of a compartment dedicated to the exchange of futures on bitcoin by the end of 2017 .
In addition, two tracker promoters (ETFs), Reality Shares Advisors and Amplify Trust ETF, have just submitted to the SEC application files to launch trackers offering an investment indexed on the prices of companies operating on the blockchain.
In France, Eiffel Investment Group, already in charge of managing an SME loan fund via crowdfunding (participative finance), is working on the creation of a vehicle dedicated to cryptocurrencies.
See you on November 16th
November 16th will be an important step for Bitcoin. It is, indeed, on that date that a “fork” will intervene, or, in good French, a bifurcation. Under this name hides the modification of the bitcoin protocol, that is to say the way of exchanging blocks that record transactions.
The debate is technical. It actually reflects the opposition, within the Bitcoin community, between supporters of expanding block sizes-which would allow for more transactions-and a status quo.
From then on, three different categories of bitcoins could cohabit: traditional bitcoin, cash bitcoin and bitcoin core. More fuel for the incredible volatility.