From fuelling speculation and anticipation to creating concerns, interest, and now being increasingly accepted worldwide, cryptocurrency has come a long way. What started out as a digital currency boom in 2017 – with Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin along with other virtual currencies witnessing a drastic hike – went through a series of ups and down, until the recent downward trend.
Since December 2017, the Indian government has been coming down hard on digital currency, that has witnessed a steady fall in the price of almost 60 percent. And yet, stories of Bitcoin millionaires amassing unimaginable gains continue to dominate headlines. With the year closing to an end, we take a look at the timeline in this virtual age of money – cryptocurrency and everything that happened around it in 2018.
January 2 – Cryptocurrency was deemed not “a legal tender in India”. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reiterated the strong stand taken by the government, emphasising on the personal risk in dealing with Bitcoin or Ethereum.
January 16 – Bitcoin prices suffered a severe blow - the lowest in more than a month after the Chinese crackdown. On the radar were online platforms and mobile apps and other currencies like Ethereum (19 percent) and Ripple (29 percent) registered a steady decline.
January 19 – Indian government continued coming down hard on traders, entrepreneurs and tech-savvy investors dealing in digital money. Income tax department in the country sent caveats, warning against “Ponzi schemes” and asking to pay tax on capital gains. The regulations echoed hard measures taken by policymakers in Japan, China, and South Korea in the wake of soaring cryptocurrency prices.
February 1 – Cryptocurrency outlawed in India. While presenting the Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley further pledged to eliminate usage of crypto assets in financing illegitimate activities. The message sparked uncertainty and Bitcoin prices fell as low as $4,000 on Zebpay, an Indian cryptocurrency exchange.
February 7 – Even as policymakers around the world tackled the digital currency crisis, rumours surfaced that tech giant Samsung was forging partnerships to make its own ASIC chips.
February 17 - Gibraltar led the change, becoming one of the first in the world to introduce ICO regulations.
March 14 – In a move to “tackle emerging threats”, plans of an ad ban was revealed by Google on Bitcoin and initial coin offerings (ICOs). Following the news, Bitcoin prices fell below $8,000 but for a brief period.
March 26 – Following in the footsteps of advertising giants like Google and Facebook, Twitter announced a ban on adverts for cryptocurrencies.
March 30 – Cryptocurrency hit a new low, sliding to $6,630
April 5 – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) dealt a heavy blow to virtual currency enthusiasts by forbidding financial institutions in the country from providing service to individual and businesses dealing in cryptocurrency.
April 12 – Vietnamese financial institutions came under the scanner following reports of a cryptocurrency scam allegedly worth $658 million.
April 17 – Leading cryptocurrency exchange platforms in New York, including Coinbase, were asked for disclosures on their operations as city’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman launched an inquiry into the details of the virtual exchange.
May 15 – Circle, a cryptocurrency startup backed by Goldman Sachs, raised $110 million in an investment round and announced a new cryptocurrency that was pegged to the price of the stable US dollar.
May 24 - US Justice Department launched a probe into the price manipulation of popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
June 11 - Cryptocurrency registered a sharp drop in price (Bitcoin tumbled by 10 percent) after South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, Coinrail confirmed that its systems suffered a “cyber intrusion”.
June 20 – Almost $31.5 million worth of virtual coins were stolen in Bithumb cryptocurrency theft. The South Korean cryptocurrency exchange was targeted as hackers continued to expose the risk involved in dealing with virtual assets.
July 9 – Israeli cryptocurrency startup, Bancor lost $13.5 million worth of digital tokens, including Ethereum and Pundi X after a “security breach”.
July 27 – Google filtered Play Store and banned all cryptocurrency mining apps in a move to protect smartphone, tablets, and PC users.
August 8 – Cryptocurrency markets registered a sharp fall as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) postponed its decision on a proposed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) decision.
August 15 – Lawsuit filed against AT&T in US District Court in Los Angeles after a US-based investor lost $24 million in digital money due to alleged “negligence”.
September 5 – Goldman Sachs Group abandoned digital currency trading plans over a lack of regulatory framework. The news led to a plunge in cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (5 percent drop), Ethereum (9 percent), Litecoin (7.1 percent), and Ripple (7.7 percent).
September 20 – Zaif, a Japanese digital currency exchange was hacked and robbed of Bitcoin, MonaCoin and Bitcoin cash worth $60 million.
September 26 – Cryptocurrency XRP (informally known as Ripple) regained market position, ranking up as the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by total market capitalisation, just behind Bitcoin (with a market value of $113 billion).
October 23 – Integrating blockchain technology into smartphones as part of its shifting focus, HTC unveiled its first blockchain-based device, Exodus 1, expected to be available to the public by December.
October 31 – Bitcoin celebrated its 10th anniversary, marking the day when the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto had issued the whitepaper titled ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’.
November 1 – Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) unveiled detailed guidelines and regulations framework with regards to trading, funds and exchanges in digital money.
November 6 – Popular bitcoin wallet Blockchain announced that it will be giving away $125 million worth of cryptocurrency to boost digital wealth.
December 21 – Facebook reported working on its own stablecoin-based cryptocurrency for WhatsApp payments.