There is a talk about regulations, but some companies are helping the growth of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin while others are hurting it.
When Development Capital Group went to the North American Bitcoin Conference we met with many of the leading people in the industry on cryptocurrencies, and received a lot of opinions on the future of the market. Last week we published an article called “Bitcoin Arrives” which went over cryptocurrency from a historical and ideological perspective by highlighting some key information in the industry.
It seems that people are moving past the idea that these cryptocurrencies, like “Bitcoin”, will be used for illegal activity. Whether it was a payment processor, a merchant, a banker, or a government official, each had their individual opinions about how to properly handle it. One side is talking about how the United States government will come in and regulate the newly adopted payment processor, while some are arguing about how it’s a temporary thing and going away.
In New York, the Bitcoin community met with regulators to negotiate how to handle this new form or system of payment. The New York Department of Financial Services discussed about “BitLicense” as a potential requirement since the digital currency exchange platforms that are popping up are now deemed “transmitters of money”. If the company is accepting a FIAT currency into Bitcoin, and exchanging it among users as well as different currencies, the company is being categorized as a transmitter of money, and this is a place where the government is required to regulate how these transactions are handled.
The New York State Attorney’s Office Office charged Charlie Shrem, CEO of BitInstant, for facilitating in a money laundering scheme, who oddly enough was suppose to be at the North America Bitcoin Conference. The focus in this case though is not the use of Bitcoin itself but the way he transacted with Silk Road users. The same process of money laundering can be done with cash, gold, or wire fraud. Government officials are looking at the lack of regulation that is surrounding Bitcoin.
Other than regulation, it’s important to watch how companies are reacting to this lack of government oversight. Yesterday, we saw a big blow to the Bitcoin community when Apple removed the last Bitcoin wallet app Blockchain from their app store. Bitstamp dropped as low as $752 yesterday with the release of this information, which seems to be a reaction to the news. This still seems to be pretty stable compared to the 50% drop when China’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, BTCChina, stopped accepting deposits in Chinese yuan in December. The market has seemed to be less volatile recently when China allowed the acceptance of the Chinese yuan again this past week.
As more governments are opening up to digital currencies, we are seeing more support from big companies. Overstock’s CEO Jonathan Johnson is active in the limelight on his personal investment in Bitcoin and started accepting Bitcoin at Overstock. Now Overstock is discussing about accepting the less talked about altcoins. Accepting Bitcoin for companies has brought in some pretty good press and sales. Tigerdirect accepted Bitcoin, and did $250,000 in sales in 17 hours. Now we see more companies that are accepting Bitcoin like Tesla, Zynga, Dominos Pizza, Virgin Galactic, WordPress, and many more.
There is much speculation about the market with numerous articles covering various movements. The Google support team discusses their integration of Bitcoin for Google Play, while Google Ventures has funded a Bitcoin startup called Ripple. Overstock.com’s CEO claims it’s a matter of time before Amazon accepts Bitcoin. Ebay has publicly backed the idea of integrating Bitcoin while Coinbase has recently received $25 million from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
What we are seeing is a pretty positive growth in the market, and a lot of attention from various venture capital and investment companies. If we look at the price of Bitcoin we are seeing it continue to go up with some reversals, but ultimately in an upward trend. We see a lot of activity in this market and continue to monitor what is happening in the industry.