E L Emerson
Will Bitcoin Bounce Back?
While Bitcoin has felt the impact of surging interest from investors and day traders in alternative coins or altcoins over the past few weeks, the Blockchain alpha product once again appears to be making its way towards its former $19,200 plus high of last month, breaking the $17,700 mark earlier today.
Meanwhile altcoins like Litecoin, Ethereum and the increasingly visible Ripple have experienced the opposite trend with losses of between 10% and 20%, even as the latter’s CEO Chris Larsen has vaulted up the Forbes 400 rich list into fifth position on the back of his companies meteoric coin price rise.
Bitcoin and Ethereum prices have also felt the weight of recent market factors, including the impact of credit card giant Visa suspending the use of customers’ coin-loaded prepaid debit cards from BitPay, Cryptopay and Bitwala, which shoppers were using like traditional banking cards, and Wall Street bank Merrill Lynch’s ban on Bitcoin trading for its customers.
The China Syndrome
At the end of last year the Chinese government ordered a halt on virtual currency trading, and have this week further reduced the country’s once dominant position in the cryptocurrency world by extending their crackdown to bitcoin miners.
The result has been a rapid exodus of major mining operations out of the country, including Bitmain which runs China’s two largest businesses of this type.
Policy makers have decided to limit the power use of the industry within its borders in order to discourage bitcoin mining operations, who saw China’s inexpensive electricity as major benefit of setting up shop there.
The Ripple Effect
Ripple and its XRP altcoin, which has grow its value from circa $200 million to an estimated $115 billion over the last ten months, and is now considered the second most popular Blockchain cryptocurrency, has shirked Bitcoin’s decentralised approach that makes intermediaries like banks unnecessary.
As such, many traders and investors have avoided the San Francisco-based currency, despite positive PR inking new high street banking relationships, as it remains open to intervention and regulation, and the price and supply of the coin can potentially be manipulated by the profit-driven business that owns it.
Ethereum’s Record High
Ethereum briefly hit a new record high this week at $1,075 before falling back, and has posted a 30% rise in January already.
With a market capitalisation of just under $100 billion, Etherum lands in third position behind Bitcoin and Ripple and is unique in its versatility in allowing developers to build apps on its network, like Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).
E L Emerson, Editor, HNW
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