Bitcoin has had a stunning year, by anyone’s accounting. Having started the year at just under $1,000, the price jump to over $10,000 represents some incredible changes. This growth is not a flash-in-the-pan either, but is supported by growing mainstream adoption and massive trading volume. In just the past 24 hours Bitcoin’s trading volume has exceeded $5 bln.
Bitcoin has finally surmounted the greatest psychological barrier of all, passing $10,000 and showing no signs of stopping. Following a week of consolidating at all-time high levels around $8,000, Bitcoin found the strength to move up powerfully over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Black Friday saw the currency hit new highs in the upper $8,000s before surmounting the $9,000 level Saturday and immediately charging toward the $10,000 mark Sunday. These price increase come on unusually high volume, with fear of missing out (FOMO) bringing new investors in rapidly.
The year has been filled with major announcements that signal the widespread acceptance and growth of Bitcoin. Extensive coverage by mainstream analysts was followed by huge growth in Bitcoin hedge funds and institutional investors.
Now the launch of regulated futures markets is imminent, and Bitcoin has become the investment du jour of the financial community. Whether they love it or hate it, big bankers can’t keep their mouths shut about Bitcoin.
The attention Bitcoin has garnered from mainstream media has been astounding. Only a year ago, news would spread of a local newspaper mentioning Bitcoin, and the community would be thrilled. Now, major publications mention Bitcoin daily, and no one is surprised. Bitcoin has literally gone viral.
Further, the growth in hedge funds that invest in cryptocurrencies has exploded as well. As early as August, the news that 70 new funds could be starting was a headline. Now, the existence of 120 new or modified crypto related funds barely warrants a head nod.
Another major contributing factor for Bitcoin’s sizeable gains is the reality that Bitcoin futures will soon be traded on major regulated markets. Two of the world’s largest futures markets, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE), will soon launch Bitcoin futures.
As adoption increases, the network is forced to keep pace. However, Bitcoin has continued to maintain a huge transaction volume as the price has increased. As shown below, the daily transaction volume is now over $2 bln.
As transactions continue to proliferate, Bitcoin mining has become increasingly profitable as well. Miners today make $1.5 mln in fees alone, not including block rewards. Consider the chart below, as the market has increased, the mining returns have increased exponentially as well.
All this growth in adoption is not localized either. The entire global community has begun to embrace Bitcoin, from Venezuela to Zimbabwe, and from South Korea to Switzerland. The international transactions numbers have been steadily rising since Bitcoin’s inception.
The numbers are staggering, but what is most encouraging is that the growth in markets has not been geographically localized. A simple perusal of charts from various countries around the world indicates that adoption is not localized, but global, and nearly uniform.
Regions with greater access to technology have, of course, seen the most consistent adoption curves. For example, consider the European adoption graph below, and note that the adoption has steadily grown, but the huge jumps are not the norm.
However, other nations with substantially less democratized technology are just now catching up. Venezuela is a great example; as the Bolivar has devalued, the adoption of Bitcoin has risen exponentially.
Part of the growth in global access has been the sudden increase in Bitcoin ATMs, as well. A remarkable 4.8 Bitcoin ATMs are installed somewhere on a daily basis, and those numbers will only continue to grow as new ATM companies come online all the time.
With all this news, it should be no surprise that Bitcoin has crossed the $10,000 mark. And certainly, as adoption continues to grow, the price will undoubtedly increase, since new users must buy in at current rates and will drive the price up.
Whether the bulls or bears will ultimately have their way remains to be seen, but an analysis of volume and transactions would indicate that not only is there no bubble, but the vast majority of the public are now beginning to gain awareness of digital currency. Coinbase, and other exchanges report huge moves in user growth. This could be just the beginning.