Bitcoin price: This chart shows how volatile Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are. In just one day, the cryptocurrency’s price went from a record-breaking $17,100 (£12,700) to a still-impressive $14,450, then back up to $16,300, then down to $14,900, and then back up to $15,300.
Coinbase, an app that helps you buy Bitcoin, went straight to the top of the US App Store on Apple’s website. It’s rare for an app to climb so high in such a short time, but the fact that it’s about something as niche as cryptocurrency shows how widespread it has become.
At these prices, Bitcoin’s market cap is around $258 billion, a considerable number.
To put this in perspective, one cryptocurrency coin cost less than $1,000 at the start of the year, so its rise has been like a meteor.
But the rise hasn’t been smooth, and there have been some big drops (in which hundreds of dollars were taken off the price) in just a few hours over the past year.
And it makes sense that the bigger the bubble, the more likely it is to pop. In September, after Bitcoin broke a record by rising above $5,000, it fell by more than 16% from its high point.
This also happened after Bitcoin2X went down. Bitcoin 2X was a new cryptocurrency from the original Bitcoin blockchain and technology. It was made to be like Bitcoin Cash, which was meant to be a “fork” from the original Bitcoin blockchain. Since more people use Bitcoin, its price has gone through the roof. Being able to process more significant transactions quickly instead of breaking them into many blocks is good, but security issues make it hard.
The fragile Bitcoin market
China made initial coin offerings (ICOs) illegal in September, saying they have “seriously upset the economic and financial order.” As part of this, China also told all ICOs to return investors’ money, which makes it hard to know how much Bitcoin and Ethereum are worth when smaller ICO tokens are turned back into real money. When a government goes after a cryptocurrency, the market always goes down. However, China’s actions will likely have a more significant effect because many cryptocurrency exchanges are based there.
More recently, the UK Treasury said that it wants to crack down on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin so that they can’t be used for illegal things like tax evasion, terrorism, or laundering money. In particular, the Treasury’s plans align with a larger EU plan to make buying and selling virtual currencies easier.
Under the plans, online platforms would have to “do their due diligence” on their customers and report suspicious transactions.
In a strange twist, the market is also unstable because people are becoming more interested in Bitcoin and Ethereum after the Bitcoin blockchain split. This makes the market even more dangerous. In September, people spent a lot of money, which caused the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to increase. As the market started to cool and settle down again, it had to make changes. This could happen again, but on a bigger scale because of how quickly the price increased.
The threat is so natural that Bitcoin Bubble Burst, unveiled at TechCrunch’s Disrupt Berlin hackathon, can warn you before a crash. It uses AI to look for trading patterns and news stories, like today’s Treasury crackdown, to warn investors and subscribers before a slump happens.