The development of cryptocurrencies parallels a quote commonly attributed to Mahatma Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” It’s difficult to peg the entire crypto ecosystem to a single point in this progression so far, but 2017 has many enthusiasts declaring an imminent victory.
Bitcoin, which has long been the standard-bearer of cryptocurrencies, began to take off at unprecedented rates in early 2017 following an announcement that the Winklevoss twins (of would-be Facebook fame) had applied for the first Bitcoin ETF. Although the SEC denied their application because of a lack of regulation, the rules governing bitcoin around the world have come a long way. Since then, Japan has officially recognized bitcoin as a legitimate currency, and countries like South Korea have introduced regulations to assuage the concerns of those who insist it’s just a glorified scam. The SEC itself will soon establish new regulations, and this makes an ETF bid much more likely to be approved in 2018.
It’s been a big year on Digital Wall Street for other cryptocurrencies too. In May, the third annual Ethereal Summit heralded an explosion in the value of Ethereum. The event—attended by the likes of Bloomberg, Capital One, Equifax, Microsoft, and Nasdaq—shored up major support for cryptocurrencies. In fact, CME Group (who attended the conference) and the Cboe Futures Exchange both broke ground on bitcoin futures trading by the end of the year. Altcoins like Litecoin, Ripple, and IOTA rode the ensuing wave to breathtaking highs.
Bitcoin has further penetrated into popular culture, featuring in a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy, and Late Night with Seth Meyers. It is also becoming a staple of online journalism as Forbes, CNBC, and others have assigned beat writers to cover cryptocurrencies. Grabbing headlines and screen time as it has, it’s hard to imagine a single home where crypto wasn’t a topic of conversation this Christmas.
In just one short year, cryptocurrencies have gone from being a bunch of relatively obscure technological quirks to a totally rocket-fueled asset class. If they can keep up the enthusiasm generated in 2017, this year they will establish themselves as a force that cannot be ignored.
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