When the history of Bitcoin and blockchains is written, 2017 will be the year tagged as the “turning point” when Bitcoin and “red hot” blockchain technology went mainstream. The steadily rising bitcoin price and market cap is a key, though not the only, indicator that a tipping point has been reached.
Despite turmoil like ICOs being banned in China and South Korea, cryptocurrencies in general coming under scrutiny in other countries, and internal divisions and infighting in the Bitcoin community, the price of bitcoin continued its steady trend upward, accelerating in the last few months of 2017 despite naysayers.
The following were some of Bitcoin Magazine‘s most popular “good news” stories from 2017 — only a small sample of the many breakthroughs that illuminated this remarkable year.
5. Philanthropy Lives on the Blockchain
2017 saw good news from Bitcoiners who went out of their way to share their cryptocurrency wealth through projects like the Pineapple Fund, set up by the pseudonymous “Pine,” to donate 5,057 BTC to charitable causes like Watsi, the Water Project, EFF, SENS Research Foundation and BitGive.
In October 2017, nonprofit BitGive itself launched its beta version of GiveTrack, a blockchain-based platform that allows donors to donate bitcoin to charitable causes and track those donations in real-time.
At the end of 2017, hearts also reached out to Andreas Antonopoulos, who had not been able to hold on to his early bitcoins as he worked for years to advocate on behalf of the Bitcoin community. Bitcoiners sent donations of more than 100 BTC, worth about $1.7 million at the time, to show their appreciation for his years of devotion to the Bitcoin cause.
4. DragonMint Helps Make Mining More Decentralized
As Bitcoin mining becomes more challenging, it’s also becoming more centralized around a few larger companies that have sufficient capital, the latest equipment and access to reliable energy sources.
An estimated 70 percent of hash power produced on the network today is produced by Bitmain for their own or affiliated mining pools.
In 2017, to offer some competition and shake up the market, Halong Mining launched the DragonMint 16T, with newly designed chips producing 16 terahashes per second. It claims to be 30 percent more energy-efficient than the most efficient ASIC miner currently on the market.
3. A Major Step Forward in the Development of Bitcoin: SegWit Finally Activates
After months of contentious debate in the Bitcoin development community, Segregated Witness (SegWit), a major technical innovation to the Bitcoin network, was deployed in early August.
A Bitcoin developer, Shaolinfry, proposed a user-activated soft fork (UASF) so that users could set a deadline for enforcing the new rules instead of having the miners activate the soft fork.
A number of factors contributed to SegWit’s launch, including its successful deployment on Litecoin, the AsicBoost controversy and the contentious New York Agreement.
The rising price of bitcoin can be attributed, at least in part, to SegWit’s successful integration into Bitcoin’s core software in 2017.
2. Regulators Approve Listing Bitcoin Futures as Mainstream Investments
U.S. regulators recently granted approval for two investment funds to list and trade bitcoin, making 2017 the year that mainstream futures markets first accepted bitcoin as a legitimate investment.
The world’s largest derivatives marketplace operator, CME Group Inc. launched bitcoin futures trading on December 18. Also launching bitcoin futures trading in 2017 were Cboe Futures Exchange and Cantor Exchange, bringing investment in bitcoin to the fore.
1. Price of Bitcoin Reaches $10,000 and Beyond
Despite a year of turmoil and division, bitcoin reached a major milestone, breaking through the $10,000 barrier and rising above that in recent weeks.
At the time of publishing, bitcoin was trading at around $14,500, more than 10 times its value at the beginning of the year. What some have (probably erroneously) called a bubble doesn’t appear ready to burst anytime soon.
The current bitcoin market cap, the value of all bitcoin in existence, is $247 billion, even greater than such companies as GE, Goldman Sachs and UBS Group, as well as countries like New Zealand, Algeria, Iraq and Romania.