Bitcoin – At the Crossroads of the Future
As people all over the world increase their awareness about the crypto-currency revolution, investment experts are lining up to express their opinions. In recent weeks, the pro-crypto forecasters are predicting numbers that defy gravity. It’s not uncommon to see a prognosticator on TV explaining why they believe Bitcoin is destined to hit anywhere between $250,000 and $500,000 per coin within the next two years. At $500,000, the coin would have to increase more that 6000% from it’s current levels. The numbers are mind-boggling.
On the other side of the fence, we find the naysayers. There are plenty of well-respected financial analyst who aren’t afraid to warn people about the investment bubble. Some even admit that crypto-currencies might still have some play left in them, but sooner or later, the bubble is going to burst, and people are going to get hurt. To drive home their point, they only need to reflect on the IPO bubble of 2001.
The Technical Hurdles
The crypto-currency revolution is still in its infancy. As such, most coins, Bitcoin included, are trading without historical indicators to help investors. It is a free market in the purest form. Unfortunately, free market trading is susceptible to influence from all directions. Therein lies the rub for crypto-currency investors. With no history to fall back on, investors have to make decisions based on their gut.
The obstacles that complicate the decision-making process for Bitcoin investors are plenty. The coin is always susceptible to the technical aspects of trading. The exponential increase in price is being driven by high demand and scarce product. Still, investors get a little antsy when the price increases too much, too fast. Then we see the typical correction that comes when an investment becomes over bought. The problem is these corrections are proving to be harsh, which tests the mettle of investors who aren’t used to such high levels of volatility.
Setting technical analysis aside, technology issues are also driving the market today. There’s no denying that the crypto-currency market has had its issues. After proclaiming block-chain technology to be the securest approach to disseminating information, there are holes that are being exposed almost daily. The bugs will get worked out as this kind of technology seems destined for prime time. Unfortunately, Bitcoin has block-chain technology under a microscope right now.
No matter how secure any system may claim to be, hackers are sure to expose the weaknesses in a hurry. The crypto-currency industry has already been besieged by hackers, who have stolen billions of dollars in Bitcoin and other crypto-coins. Losing money to hackers tends to make investors a little jittery. It also makes for plenty of litigation from those harmed by technology that may not yet be a secure as promised.
The Fundamental Hurdles
There’s an old adage: When school teachers and janitors start making millions from investing, prices are going to crash because we need school teachers and janitors. The truth is governments get nervous when its residents start losing money or making lots of money without paying taxes. It’s no coincidence that India and South Korea are among the most active countries on the crypto-currency exchanges, yet both governments are considering banning the trading of all cryptos. The US, potentially the world’s biggest Bitcoin player, is working in Congress to decide how to regulate the crypto-currency market. They have already banned several exchanges for possible fraudulent activity. China is discussing an outright ban while Europe seems poised to follow America’s lead.
If Bitcoin or any other crypto-currency aspires to becoming an international currency for everyday payments, success would be predicated on the world’s biggest economies joining in the parade. Unfortunately, the major players (mentioned above) seem to be moving in the other direction.
The biggest concern seems to be Bitcoin’s appeal to the criminal element. Proof has been presented that shows North Korea has been stealing Bitcoin to help finance its nuclear program. ISIS routinely moves money among its affiliates via Bitcoin, doing so undetected until it’s too late. The drug trade is also enjoying the anonymity afforded them by block-chain technology. More and more Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are proving to be nothing more than common scams. These are all serious issues.
These are all fundamental issues that must be favorably resolved if crypto-currencies are to survive and someday thrive.
Looking or Solutions
For the most part, people are interested in all aspects of crypto-currency. Bitcoin has already shown the potential for easily resolving payment issues between customers and vendors. However, trust is a big issue going forward. If the anonymity feature is the driving force behind the crypto-currency revolution, it’s going to be hard to get governments to climb aboard and approve crypto-trading.
Let’s look at how South Korea decided to resolve the Bitcoin issue. The South Korean government recently passed a bill that gives six Korean banks authority to let its customer trade Bitcoin from their bank accounts. There’s only one stipulation: the account has to be opened in the customer’s real name. Poof! There goes the anonymity feature. However, South Koreans can still trade Bitcoin through a Bitcoin Wallet so long as tax evasion isn’t the reason they want to do so. It’s a nice compromise, but its appeal may be limited.
Over the next few months, investors should start getting answers to a lot of questions. Until that time, the pricing of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies will remain volatile. The price will increase because of demand but will drop every time a new issue becomes news. Until prices stabilize, people should focus on one rule of investing. Never invest more money that you can afford to lose. Indeed, Bitcoin is reaching its crossroads.