There’s never a dull day in Bitcoin-land and this year’s been no different so far. Bitcoin.com reviews the ups and down of an overall positive Q1 2016.
Bitcoin Q1 2016
Bitcoin’s value has remained relatively stable over the past couple of months at roughly the $425-450 USD range per BTC. The past two weeks has seen a huge jump in hashrate with a high of 1,796,101,466 GH/s as the reward halving approaches in less than two months. Bitcoin optimism seems fairly healthy even as the debate on scalability continues without any definitive progress. Overall, positivity has been high in the midst of another fake Satoshi Nakamoto and the rift between hard forks and soft forks.
The Debate Rolls On
The state of Bitcoin is a never ending rollercoaster of ups and downs. Even with the abundant talk of federated and permissioned blockchains being popularized by the banking industry, everyone’s favorite cryptocurrency just doesn’t care. There’s been a lot of talk about the block size debate but the agreed upon solution is still unclear. Some people want off-chain solutions, and others would like to see a hard fork proposal supported by Core developers. The race is on to build the best network possible, but some people are still discouraged by additional fees and latency within a settlement.
There has been continued development of the Bitcoin code, but some feel it hasn’t been enough. Others are concerned that Segregated Witness (Segwit) hasn’t arrived, and there are those who are confident about the Thunder protocol.
Then there are supporters who are afraid of Ethereum’s giant spike in value and those that are concerned about halving failures as well. Currently, the majority of mining pools and operations will only operate the Bitcoin Core protocol, and it’s anyone’s guess at the moment if we will see SegWit or an increase in block size.
Despite this, Bitcoin supporters believe a compromise will come with the advancement of scalability, applications, and technical improvements. Technology visionary Andreas Antonopoulos gives his opinion of the block size current events on Twitter on May 23rd:
I believe this is called a ‘Mexican Standoff’. No segwit no HF. No HF, no segwit. Compromise time.
Ethereum: Friend or Foe?
The altcoin Ethereum has been making waves throughout the cryptocurrency community ever since its market cap hit a billion dollars. People have been discussing the various aspects of the Ethereum blockchain, its development, the DAO, and various investments made around its space. This has got some in the community frazzled and “maximalism” is abundant in both communities.
On May 24th, the co-founder of Coinbase and GDAX Fred Ehrsam had a lot to say about Ethereum via the company’s Medium blog. The post called “Ethereum is the Forefront of Digital Currency” gives great detail on why Ehrsam believes highly of the programmable currency.
“To be clear, I don’t think this needs to be a contest between Bitcoin vs. Ethereum and Coinbase plans to strongly support both,” he explains right off the bat.
This blog post has caused a stir across social media forums and especially the subreddit r/bitcoin. Within that forum-arena, one commenter criticized the Ethereum hype saying, “Eth doesn’t actually have users. Participating in a pump isn’t using it. Eth has no use right now. The DAO isn’t a use, it’s a pump. It’s not even a currency.”
However, Fred Ehrsam disagrees and believes Ethereum has a lot of potential. The Coinbase co-founder says there may be a few twists and plots but one scenario Ehrsam says could happen is that Bitcoin becomes “more of a settlement network while Ethereum is used to run decentralized applications.”
There are also many downfalls involved with how young Ethereum is and Ehrsam feels it’s only “prudent” to share the risks. He notes that while the programmable currency hasn’t had a governance issue just yet, it may have more regulatory risk, security issues, and scaling may prove to be more difficult.
Investment & Media is Positive
2016 Q1 has seen some investment within the Bitcoin industry. Companies such as Zebpay, Blockstream, Chainalysis, Rootstock, Bitwala, bitFlyer and others Bitcoin firms have raised close to $110 million USD according to CrunchBase. And of course, Bloomberg will tell you about the $330 million that’s poured into blockchain startups. Nevertheless, the mainstream media has been fairly nice to the honey badger and has lightened up on Bitcoin a little.
There has been a broad array of positive news such as the recent partnership between OKWave and Breadwallet has been welcomed by the community. Blockchain.info has released the Thunder protocol out into the wild, and some have hopes it may help scalability. The Dutch town of Arnhem has lived up to its name as Bitcoincity by securing over a hundred merchants that now accept bitcoin.
Meanwhile, other regions of the world are warming up to Bitcoin as well. The cryptocurrency is finding quite a bit of popularity in Japan and India is seeing the same fervor within its borders. Bitcoin growth in Latin America is also becoming more of a viable option every day in comparison to their current sovereign fiat currencies.
The Unstoppable Bitcoin Network Continues
Overall things have been well for the young cryptocurrency that came to the world in 2009. We don’t know what the rest of 2016 will bring or how the halving will affect the network. The future of Bitcoin shows a lot of promise and perhaps next year we’ll see another poor soul claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto. Until then the permissionless blockchain experiment continues.
What do you think about the current state of Bitcoin? Let us know how you feel things are going in the comments below.
Images via Southwest Interactive, Twitter, Pixabay, and Shutterstock
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