Bitcoin had its day in the sun (in Dec. 2013 when the price per bitcoin went through the roof), and since then, it’s been a bit dim.
Until people started digging in and understanding the technology that makes bitcoin possible: blockchain. That seemed to give bitcoin a new lease on life.
But with its tarnished reputation attached to crimes like money laundering, the real blockchain enthusiasts have made an earnest effort at explaining how and why blockchain needs to divorce itself from bitcoin for the true power of blockchain to be advanced and accepted in the mainstream financial market.
Just in the past year alone — particularly the past few months — blockchain has become one of the hottest buzz words in the financial ecosystem.
Now, even one company that has been a major bitcoin startup backer is pulling back on its investments. Ryan Selkis, Digital Currency Group’s director of investments, explained this week that “we haven’t made as many investments in bitcoin,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Citing factors like compliance costs and “systemic risks” in the bitcoin market — which has, time and time again, proven its volatility — Selkis shared more about why the focus now should be on blockchain investments instead of bitcoin.
Particularly because of the legal woes that have come attached to bitcoin companies that don’t comply properly with regulations.
“The costs to start a company without going to jail have gotten significantly higher,” Selkis said.
Blockhain, he noted, is a safer and more proactive bet.
“We advise: Cross out ‘bitcoin’ where you can and put in ‘blockchain.’ It’ll solve most of the problems,” Selkis said.
How’s that for marketing!
Also this week, it was announced that Digital Currency Group has raised money from Bain Capital, credit card company MasterCard, insurance giant New York Life Insurance Company and Canadian bank CIBC as new investors.
More mainstream blockchain support, it appears.
Bitcoin Vs. Blockchain: The Debate Takes Center Stage
Bitcoin and blockchain are at least becoming mainstream enough in the financial industry that they are gaining more ground at mainstream conferences, like Money20/20 in Las Vegas this week.
One of those panels was focused on the very topic of the branding of bitcoin and if it needed an overhaul in order for more to embrace blockchain — which is the very technology that sparked new life in bitcoin conversations entirely.
“I think [bitcoin and the blockchain] are inextricably linked. The marketing powers have said, ‘let’s call this stuff blockchain so we can invest in technology,’ and the compliance department isn’t going to get bent out of shape,” Tally Capital’s Matt Roszak said at the event.
Adam Ludwin, CEO of Chain, a blockchain infrastructure company, also shared his perspective as to why bitcoin and blockchain need to be thought of as different systems — and, therefore, are different discussions in terms of the outcome for the financial ecosystem.
”Bitcoin wasn’t designed for banks … and that’s fine. Another way to frame the question is: What do bitcoin companies think of financial services advancing tech? My perspective is it’s taking pressure off bitcoin to let it be what it is, a way to move money with an Internet connection,” he said.
NASDAQ Ups Its Blockchain Game
NASDAQ unveiled this week its roster of private company clients that will use Linq, its blockchain-enabled platform.
Among the first participants will be: Chain; ChangeTip, which allows monetary tips to be exchanged through social media; PeerNova, a ledger and database company; Synack, a security company; Tango, a free mobile messaging app, and Vera, a mobile device and security company.
Linq is a digital ledger technology that uses blockchain to track share exchanges, facilitate the issuance of shares and catalog transactions between privately held companies. NASDAQ says the blockchain technology complements ExactEquity, the cloud-based solution that oversees capitalization table management and stock plan administration.
Linq itself had been announced back in May and is the initial platform in NASDAQ’s enterprise-wide blockchain initiative, developed in partnership with Chain and global design firm IDEO. In the next step in blockchain initiatives, NASDAQ said it will develop blockchain technology in Estonia to manage proxy voting in that country.
Bitcoin Price Bouncing Back?
With all the focus on blockchain, and getting away from bitcoin, it appears bitcoin found its own way to get back in the press.
By boosting its prices to above $300, which it hasn’t done since mid-July. As of Thursday afternoon (Oct. 29), bitcoin was at $311.96. Sure, it’s a long, long way away from bitcoin’s shiny days of Dec. 2013 when everyone wished they had bitcoin on hand to sell.
But, to put this week’s price jump into context, the last time bitcoin’s price was above $300 was during the Greek debt crisis, which sent prices surging past $500, and then it hadn’t hit above $300 since March.
So, for bitcoiners, this is a mini-victory in the otherwise volatile market they’ve been facing once the hype of the Greek debt crisis calmed down (and once people realized Greeks weren’t into bitcoin).