Happy Birthday, Bitcoin! It has been quite a ride over the last ten years.
In August 2008, the domain bitcoin.org was registered. But, it was on October 31, 2008, when a person or group - still not ascertained - under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto issued a whitepaper titled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’. This paper became the founding text for the cryptocurrency that changed the history of money forever.
The year 2017 was the reckoning for this digital currency when prices soared by a whopping 1,813 percent from January to December. Such was the euphoria that by mid-December, the price of one Bitcoin, or BTC, reached close to $20,000. But that didn’t last long and the price fell 10 times by this January.
And it’s still on a strong downward trend, with prices having fallen by more than 60 percent since December 2017.
As Bitcoin turns 10, we take a look at the major events that shaped the ecosystem so far.
August - Domain ‘bitcoin.org’ is registered.
October - Document on "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" is published under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto.
January - First Bitcoin transaction takes place - Nakamoto transfers 10 BTC to Hal Finney.
October - New Liberty Standard publishes its first ever exchange rate, terming $1 being equivalent to 1,309.03 BTC.
February - First exchange - Bitcoin Market – is launched.
May – Florida-based programmer Laszlo Hanyecz purchases two pizzas from Papa John’s for 10,000 BTC, marks the first real world transaction for the digital currency.
July - Prices rise ten-fold from $0.008 to $0.08 per BTC; second crypto exchange ‘Mt. Gox’ is launched.
August - First vulnerability spotted as a transaction accidentally creates 184 billion BTC.
October - First public Bitcoin miner ‘OpenCL’ created.
November - Market cap crosses $1 million for the first time; one BTC is worth $0.50.
People begin to sit up and notice the trend.
February - Bitcoin rises to $1 for the first time followed by a huge surge of new users thanks to Twitter and coverage by media.
April - Mainstream media begins noticing Bitcoin; TIME publishes its first article on the cryptocurrency.
June – In a sudden spike, one Bitcoin climbs to over $30 for six days, followed by the first theft as a user reports theft of 25,000 BTC. In the same month, prices fall to $17.5 after Mt. Gox suffers a security breach where names, passwords and hashes of 60,000 users are stolen.
July - The first mobile app ‘Bitcoins Mobile’ is launched.
March - In the largest Bitcoin theft ever, 50,000 BTC are stolen.
June - The biggest block in the chain #181919 is created including 1,322 transactions.
November - Online content management platform WordPress starts accepting the currency as payment.
February - After 600 days, the exchange rates again cross $30 a bitcoin.
March - Total market capitalisation crosses $1 billion.
April - Exchange rates reach $100.
July – First ban on Bitcoin as Thailand makes it illegal given the lack of a legal framework.
November – Growth continues as US game developer Zynga begins accepting the digital currency, pushing its exchange rate to over $1,000.
December - People's Bank of China prohibits the country’s financial institutions from using it.
January - VP of the Bitcoin Foundation is arrested, causing a $40 fall in the exchange rate.
February - Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy.
July - Dell begins accepting the digital currency.
December - Microsoft begins accepting it, but only for Xbox games and Windows software.
August - Barclays announces it would accept the digital currency.
March - Japanese Cabinet acknowledges virtual currencies like Bitcoin as an equal means of payment to real money.
August - Exchange Bitfinext is hacked leading to the theft BTC worth $60 million.
June - Exchange rate crosses $3,000.
October - China bans cryptocurrencies.
November - Price crosses $10,000.
December - Cboe Global Markets starts futures trading of Bitcoin. For a brief moment, prices touch $20,000.
The digital currency euphoria took a hit in India after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Union Budget 2018 speech, declared cryptocurrency as “not a legal tender”, forcing startups to wait and watch.
If that wasn’t enough, in April, the country’s apex bank, in its bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, landed a firm blow on digital currencies. The RBI, with immediate effect, banned all regulated entities from dealing with or providing services to any individual or business dealing with or settling virtual currencies.
In July, cryptocurrency exchanges contested this decision with the Supreme Court. While the matter is still sub judice, in September, some crypto startups like Zebpay saw a slow death due to the harsh regulatory environment.
But where there is a will, there is a way! As a backup, crypto exchanges, over the last few months, have been working on peer-to-peer (P2P) models to survive.
The fate of crypto startups continues to be in a limbo in India seeing the recent arrests of crypto exchange Unocoin founders for setting up a physical crypto kiosk in Bengaluru.