Seven years ago today, Satoshi Nakamoto released his famous whitepaper to the world, inviting users on the leading cryptography mailing list to work on it, officially marking the start of Bitcoin’s existence. To celebrate the luckiest birthday of them all, Brave New Coin has made a list of the seven most surprising events in the last year, based on reactions in the Bitcoin community across social media sites.
This has been an exemplary year for Bitcoin’s growth, and there are many more important happenings than included here. From the surprisingly large amount of VC funding that bitcoin companies have received, to several dozen new applications for Bitcoin than no one has attempted before, to the widely positive position that governments around the world have taken on the cryptocurrency, this list could be a whole lot longer.
The October 29th price rally, where Bitcoin surpassed the 2015 record high of US$317
Bitcoin’s price has been relatively steady for a long time, hovering in the mid 200’s for the majority of the entire year. Although most bitcoiners were hopeful that the price would rise once again, few, if any, foresaw it happening in time for Bitcoin’s birthday.
While it could be argued that Bitcoin’s price has been on a constant rise since September 23, the trend really started to approach “hyperbolic” on Monday, October 26th. It rose steadily all week, and by 10pm Thursday night, EST, Bitcoin’s price had broken through the US$317 barrier, which was both the 2015 record high and the starting price for the year.
Despite an immediate, massive selloff, of over 10,000 coins on Bitfinex at this point, the price rompt on, passing $350. No matter if this is the top already, or just the start, it’s a great birthday surprise.
The Economist features Bitcoin throughout its latest edition, putting a bitcoin image on its print cover, twitter and facebook.
Authoritative weekly publication on international news, politics, business, finance, science and technology, the Economist, amazed the bitcoin community yesterday, with an impressive bitcoin artwork on the cover of its October 31 print issue. The community could not have asked for more pro-blockchain articles than the two lengthy articles featured, “The trust machine” and “The great chain of being sure about things.”
The iconic cover illustration featured a gear-driven planet Earth with the blockchain around it, and a Bitcoin on the other end. A caption states “in blockchain we trust,” giving the impression that bitcoin and the blockchain make the world go around. It is hard to imagine a better introduction to bitcoin than the Economist presented, especially considering that their audience is typically from the old-school finance world.
In addition to Bitcoin making the front cover, the newspaper has since tweeted about how great the blockchain was at least 20 times.
With over 1.5 million average weekly readers, about half of which are in the United States, the Economist has almost 6 million facebook likes, and 11 million twitter followers. Bitcoin and the blockchain have undoubtedly attracted some newfound worldwide attention.
The world’s largest banks have jumped onto a single blockchain initiative.
When financial tech firm R3 CEV, Led by Wall Street veteran David Rutter, first announced that nine banks committed to their initiative on September 15, it was already a giant leap for the bitcoin community. However, the Nine were just a start.
R3 surprised the industry even more by adding thirteen more banks, in the same month. Since then, three more banks have also joined.
According to bank rankings provided by Accuity, out of the 25 banks that have joined R3, 20 made the list of the top 50 banks worldwide by assets. Out of the top five banks on the list, four of them were Chinese banks, none of which has joined R3.
All three top credit card companies have started investing in blockchain technology.
With so many banks flooding to invest in blockchain technology, credit card companies have shown that they do not want to be left out. According to CreditCards.com, the three credit card networks with the largest market share, in both the US and the world, are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express (Amex). All three companies have now jumped on board the blockchain bandwagon, investing in different blockchain-based companies, despite earlier skepticism.
Visa is no stranger to the blockchain, having already invested in bitcoin startup Chain Inc, as well as studying blockchain technology in all three of its innovation labs, in the US, Singapore, India.
Visa’s latest blockchain initiative was a proof-of-concept to simplify car leasing, with the electronic signature technology and Digital Transaction Management service provider, DocuSign, announced on October 26.
Also on October 26, Barry Silbert announced that Digital Currency Group just finished its first round of funding, and MasterCard was one of its investors. This is MasterCard’s first investment in the bitcoin space. Silbert also founded SecondMarket, which was recently sold to Nasdaq.
A week ago, it was announced that American Express had made a strategic investment in Abra. This is Amex’s the first cryptocurrency investment.
Blockchain companies joined force with U.S. Law enforcement agencies, forming the Blockchain Alliance.
Last week, the Bitcoin community was on red alert when some of the biggest companies in the bitcoin space came together with several U.S. Law enforcement agencies, participating in a new, nonprofit organization founded by Bitcoin advocacy groups the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center.
This shockingly controversial event drew the ire of many Bitcoin experts, including Bruce Fenton and Andreas Antonopoulos, who raised several concerns about how this alliance could be destructive for the industry, although it is considered by many to be a step forward for bitcoin’s mainstream acceptance.
Three rogue federal agents independently tried to steal money from bitcoiner Ross Ulbricht.
On March 30, two U.S. federal agents were charged with bitcoin money laundering and wire fraud, in the investigation of the Silk Road marketplace and its owner Ross Ulbricht.
Carl M. Force, a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for 15 years, pleaded guilty on July 1. On October 19, the US Department of Justice was sentenced to 78 months in prison, ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution and serve three years probation following his sentence.
Shaun W. Bridges, a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service pleaded guilty on August 31, but has yet to be sentenced.
While it is official that two federal agents were charged in the Silk Road investigation, there may be a third rogue federal agent still on the loose. In September, forum posts supposedly belonging to a forgotten Silk Road architect surfaced. Going by the pseudonym Variety Jones, the post detailed his communications with a corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent.
The agent, who called himself ‘Diamond,’ claimed to be in possession of a Bitcoin wallet previously belonging to Ulbricht, containing over 300,000 BTC. However, this wallet was protected by a password, and Diamond asked Variety Jones to help him gain access, believing that his work on the Silk Road could enable him to do so. When Variety Jones refused, Diamond allegedly started making threats including killing Variety Jones, and kidnapping Ulbrichts’ sister and mother.
Bitcoin arrives in Hollywood
Three different but surprising bits of news came out of tinsel town this year, including the first feature film to show its main characters using bitcoin. For the first six years there wasn’t even a rumor of bitcoin becoming visible in Hollywood, but suddenly this year it is clearly accepted, and perhaps even fashionable.
The Sundance-launched movie Dope, which opened in 2,002 theaters across the US this June, was the first feature film where the main characters use Bitcoin. Produced by academy award winner Forrest Whitaker, Dope actually included Bitcoin in the movies plot, and the film even opened with the words “Money as we know it is about to change, soon everyone will be using bitcoin.”
Open Road Films and Sony jointly acquired the movie for $7 million, promising $20 million worth of promotion. According to Box Office Mojo, Dope had a production budget of $700,000, earned just over $6.1 million in its opening weekend, and has total lifetime gross of approximately $17.5 million.
A surprisingly good movie, Dope went on to gather rave reviews and the very fresh score of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Perhaps as newsworthy as the movie itself was the way in which you could pay for your ticket to see it. MovieTickets.com was the place to go for bitcoin fans to pick up Tickets, as the site started accepting the digital currency during the film’s promotion and has continued doing so ever since.
Using their service, which claims to be “the Largest Advance Movie Ticketing Platform in the World with 28,000 Screens,” anyone can now purchase movie tickets with bitcoin at “more than 900 screens in the US.”
Finally, at the beginning of this month, movie and TV powerhouse Lionsgate Home Entertainment announced that through its partnership with digital payments processor GoCoin, it is now accepting bitcoin payments at its online shop, with a 25% off offer for selected movie and TV series DVDs. Although the online shop is a small business for Lionsgate, the company revealed that it has plans to integrate bitcoin payment and blockchain technology into its other systems as well.
Here’s to an even better 8th year!