With the crypto markets continuing to slip into December, with Bitcoin and altcoins hitting their new relative low for the year, the tone surrounding the industry of cryptocurrency has made a decided shift towards the negative. While crypto, particularly the investment landscape, has become a punching bag throughout the year, with the bear market extending into the final month of 2018, the situation has never been seen as dire as what has transpired in the past several weeks.
Traditional, financial media outlets such as Bloomberg and CNBC have regularly covered the market shifts, but are now beginning to take an almost gleeful interest in the demise of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. The language towards the digital asset has shifted from “I told you so” to personal attacks against investors, with the aggressors positioning themselves on a false pedestal of authority. However, while these outlets are justified in their criticism and reporting on the continued price fall for crypto, they ultimately contribute to the number one problem plaguing the industry at present: an incessant focus on price movement, price predictions and the 24-hour trading cycle of crypto–and the average investor and enthusiast is as much to blame.
Cryptocurrency is in free fall for the primary reason that expectations outpaced realistic performance, with the money being poured into the industry throughout 2017 and the beginning of this year being an exponential reflection of that disconnect. While many have found novelty in using Bitcoin as an alternative form for digital transactions, storage of value and other wealth safeguarding, the limitations of the technology failed to meet the anticipation of user needs.
When transactions fees and wait times for BTC soared in the first month of 2018, newcomers to crypto were left scratching their head over the hype they had bought into. The result was just one facet of uncertainty introduced into the market that led to the collapse, like a house of cards, that was built on a series of shaky propositions. For one, the media had inundated the public with stories of overnight millionaires–and billionaires–being minted by Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, a narrative that investors were all too eager to buy into with coin prices rising four-digit percentage points on the year.
Again, expectation and speculation created the bloated market conditions that in no way could have been reasonable for the present level of adoption and advancement for the technology. It would be akin to saying that pre-dot.com websites deserved the same stock valuation and outlook as today’s landscape for Google and Facebook.
However, the greatest failure on behalf of supporters of cryptocurrency came in the form of allowing the technology become hijacked by the emphasis on price. When Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin made the claim that all centralized exchanges should burn in hell, he was in part criticizing an industry that is beholden to price speculation, driven through the activity of investors on exchange. Few care to delve into the depth of cryptocurrency, the layers to the technology, and the implications for the world that extend beyond “digital money.”
With Bitcoin having been declared dead hundreds of times before, it’s difficult for anyone to correctly predict that this is the ultimate end for the number one cryptocurrency by capitalization. However, if there is a path forward for cryptocurrency, it lies in not just a reset of market prices, but investor and user expectations, with an emphasis on building use for the technology that exceeds value.