Bitcoin is beyond government control


Bitcoin is beyond government control - 19th September 2017

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As of Friday, the last exchange ceased trading and Bitcoin sustained heavy selling. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe

by Jessica Sier

Bitcoin has surged more than 33 per cent from Friday's wave of panic selling, suggesting the cryptocurrency is becoming more and more immune to government intervention.

After news broke that Chinese regulators were shutting down all exchanges on the mainland, the price of the world's most valuable cryptocurrency plummeted over 40 per cent and dragged the price to a low of $US2,981 ($3741).

Citing the lack of licensing and regulation, authorities gave the major exchanges operating in China 10 days to close their doors.

As of Friday, the last exchange ceased trading and Bitcoin sustained heavy selling.

However, over the weekend, exchanges throughout the rest of the world picked up the slack and voracious demand returned, sending the price back above $US4,000 a coin, before slipping slightly on Tuesday morning.

"There are always those waiting in the wings to buy Bitcoin, whenever there is a price dip," says Duncan Campbell, director of Digital Currency Experts, an education consultancy.

"Not because they're interested in trading it but because they feel it is seriously undervalued in the long term."

The long-term believers in Bitcoin see the decentralised network as a potential solution to the inefficiencies purported by global central banks, which can print as much currency as they like, whereas Bitcoin is restrained by a 21 million cap.

There are currently 14 million Bitcoin in circulation, mined by computers solving complex algorithms, but as the software stands, there can only ever be 21 million in circulation.

Bitcoin has shown its resilience to government intervention several times in the last twelve months, especially as the cryptocurrency weens itself of Chinese dependence.

There was a time when Chinese bitcoin trading accounted for 90 per cent of global volume, largely as investors used it as a mechanism to move money out of the country and the world's largest miners were situated there.

But much of that Chinese volume was reduced in January, after authorities banned no-fee trading, and exchanges in Japan and Korea absorbed that trading capacity.

"Thanks to this more diversified market [sic] it stands to reason that the regulatory interventions of a single country - even the world's most populous country - should have less impact on the bitcoin price over the long term," writes Marc Hochstein, managing editor for CoinDesk and former editor-in-chief of American Banker.

However for every long-term believer in the price, there are several speculative traders hoping to cash in on the digital currency boom. That the price of Bitcoin has soared almost 600 per cent in just 12 months and has recovered so quickly after every price setback, is a tantalising bet for those hoping to get rich quickly.

"There are many signals in the crypto space that suggest that bitcoin is increasingly identified by the general population as an investment opportunity," says Chris Mountford, software engineer at Digital Asset.

"My concern is that many of these people are so new to this market they have not experienced the downside risk of the high volatility of the Bitcoin price.."

Speculative traders have flooded into the Bitcoin market, hoping to gain access to one of the hundreds of speculative tokens now offered via Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

ICOs are crowdfunded projects where tokens are issued in exchange for access to a new network, designed for hundreds of different reasons.

However, despite the cowboy-like behaviour in Bitcoin secondary markets, the underlying demand for Bitcoin itself looks to have solidified.

"A few years ago it was mostly ideologists and nerds using Bitcoin," says Daniel Alexiuc, chief executive of Living Room of Satoshi, a Brisbane-based company that allows bill payment in Bitcoin.

"But now more and more people are using it as an exit from the current banking system. That is a very widespread appeal."

(The Sydney Morning Herald)