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Litecoin difficulty 2018
A little over two months ago, Bitcoin achieved a symbolic milestone: After an intensive period of growth, the price of one Bitcoin surpassed the price of an ounce of gold. That seems like ancient history. The not-Bitcoin cryptocurrency that could help replace Uber. But is the rally over, or has it only just begun?
And what has propelled the explosive growth in the first place? In the world of cryptocurrencies, answering these questions is anything but easy. To start, it's important to understand that Bitcoin, while still the biggest cryptocurrency around, is not the only — arguably not even the biggest — driver of growth anymore. A couple of years ago, one Bitcoin was worth a little over a hundred dollars. The digital coin market cap is a frequently quoted number that means nothing and everything, depending on your viewpoint.
But it may never happen, and even if it does, Bitcoin might be left behind. Bitcoin is still by far the most promising as both a digital currency and a payment platform. But the new breed of digital coins are very different. Litecoin, an early Bitcoin competitor, has once again taken the spotlight after having recently adopted SegWit, a software update that solves the scaling problem that has been dividing Bitcoin's community for years.
Ethereum is a modern cryptocurrency which promises advanced features such as smart contracts. It wants to become a blockchain-based foundation for what is essentially a new type of internet. How's that for ambition? When the price of a commodity or a stock rises, you can usually point to some sort of reason. When Apple has a good quarter, its stock price generally goes up.
When catastrophe strikes, uncertainty in global markets typically increases demand for what are viewed as safer investments such as gold, propelling prices upward. But in the world of Bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency that doubles as a decentralized payment system, you've got a lot less to go on.
A lot of the recent Bitcoin news wasn't good. In April, the U. The move would have made it far easier for the average investor to speculate on the future of Bitcoin. And over the last couple of years, the Bitcoin community has been bitterly divided over a question on whether the size of blocks on the cryptocurrency's blockchain — the fundamental technology upon which the Bitcoin protocol relies — should be increased or not read a simple explanation of the block size debate here.
Cryptocurrency experts we've contacted say developments in Japan are the likely cause for this latest price surge. On a purely technical level, the current price differences in the Japanese markets and elsewhere offer the possibility of arbitrage, Hayter claims, but there's a great deal of plain old greed going on, too. The price difference in Japan and other markets offer the possibility of arbitrage, and some traders are taking advantage.
That drives the price up," he told Mashable. None of this, however, explains the fact that a lot of the growth happened before the developments in Japan and the onset of multi-million Ethereum-based projects. It also doesn't give us a much better idea of realistic value of one Bitcoin or one Ether.
While that second prediction sounds dramatically pessimistic, consider this: Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile. The most recent rise in price is not permamnent. Most experts agree that cryptocurrencies rely heavily on user adoption, and however crazy the market may look like now, it's still early days for cryptocoins.
And while wide adoption of Bitcoin as a payment platform is happening at a relatively slow pace, trading cryptocurrencies has gotten a lot easier in recent years. This has definitely propelled some of the market's growth; when you see something increase in value tenfold within a month, you want to be a part of the action. Predicting the price changes in any market is tough; the old advice from the likes of Warren Buffett says you should put your money in a stock index fund and let the experts trade, as the short-term movements of the market are incredibly difficult to predict.
It's even tougher to predict a highly volatile market such as cryptocurrencies. Add to that the relative youth of all the exchanges you can trade on, and the dangers are even bigger: If the price of Bitcoin starts falling rapidly, don't count on stop-loss measures to save you from impending doom. Both Hayter and von Minckwitz agree that in short-term the prices in the cryptocurrency markets are overvalued, but they are positive about long-term growth.
Hayter is a bit more pessimistic, though, comparing some of the Ethereum-based ICOs to the South Sea Bubble referring to the British South Sea Company, whose stock price rose sharply in the early 18th century before it collapsed. For an illustration of this lack of rationality, consider this: That said, one way to look at cryptocurrencies is to read up, and make an informed decision on their long-term prospects.
Is Bitcoin just a fad? If so, it might already be overrated. But if you think that this technology could change the way money — or the entire Internet — works, there's plenty room for growth in the future.
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