In any given week, you’re bound to find a story about bitcoin that makes it look promising, a story that makes it look bad, and a story that reminds us all that bitcoin is just plain off the wall.
And that’s the week that was for bitcoin as we round out the last week of January. It’s also a week where bitcoin’s price is headed south (despite the claims that 2016 would be bitcoin’s year).
So, just because, let’s start with the bad and dig into bitcoin’s rocky price trend in January.
For bitcoin, its price was off to a pretty decent start when the calendar turned into the new year. It kicked off 2016 on Jan. 1 with a high of $434.36. Jan. 7 brought bitcoin’s price above the mid $450s. By mid-January, however, things got a little sour.
On Jan. 15, bitcoin hit its low for the month at $358.77, roughly $100 less than just a week prior. Things started looking better for a few days, but then yesterday, bitcoin’s price was back down to $382.59 at midday. That’s a far cry below what some bitcoin enthusiasts said 2016 would be bringing ($650+).
But alas, the year is young. But young, old or in between, we still don’t see it.
Bank of America’s Big Blockchain Bets
PYMNTS reported back in September that Bank of America appeared to be getting more serious about bitcoin and its blockchain tech.
It was then that Bank of America filed a patent that it describes as being “a system and method for wire transfers using cryptocurrency.” Now, four months later, it appears Bank of America has advanced its blockchain plans even further. As of the most recent reports on the subject, Bank of America had filed for 15 blockchain-related patents, and was in the works of developing 20 more, according to a bank spokesperson.
And they’ve even recently spoken more publicly about their plans.
“Blockchain’s very intriguing and for us it’s a balance between not wanting to be Neanderthal but not wanting to put something out in a commercial application where the commercial application is still very unclear as a technologist, the technology is fascinating,” Catherine Bessant, the chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America, told CNBC.
“And we have tried to stay on the forefront, I think we have somewhere around 15 patents, most people would be surprised at Bank of America with patents in the blockchain or cryptocurrency space. [It’s] very important in the intellectual property world to reserve our spot even before we know what the commercial application might be.”
Among its patents include possible plans to have a “cryptocurrency risk detection system,” along with a “suspicious user alert system.”
Now, it appears, that banks are not only racing to be leaders in FinTech, but also in blockchain.
The Bitcoin-Terrorist Report?
Moving beyond price, what else happened in the world of bitcoin this week? Well, on the good(?) side…a report came out that indicated there’s no direct link showing that terrorists are using bitcoin to fund their operations.
Shockingly, that’s a bigger win for bitcoin — at least from a PR standpoint — than one would think.
A new report commissioned by EU members shows that there was no evidence that ISIS’ finances were connected to bitcoin as a way to gain funds. This report followed the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, which arose suspicions that the group ISIS (Daesh) was using funds to stay off the radar of law officials.
“There is no evidence however of ISIS-financing networks in existence. Despite third-party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement,” the report reads.
The investigation also looked into the other alternative virtual currencies, but none of those were named in the investigation either. While this news is positive for the digital currency world, it doesn’t quite solve one big issue.
“The financing of terrorist operations has not undergone any marked changes in the recent past. The sources of funding of the operatives in the EU are largely unknown,” the Europol report states.
Getting Money In And Out Of Bitcoin
It’s been a tough week for TransferWise, after it posted a loss of $16.4 million (£11.4 million), which makes everyone wonder a bit regarding what the future of this unicorn will be. But you can take one thing to the bank about TransferWise: it won’t be betting on bitcoin for money transfers.
Its investors can at least rest assured about that. The rest? That’s a bit rocky, for now.
TransferWise’s CEO Taavet Hinrikus was quoted in Bitcoin Magazine about the discussion surrounding bitcoin’s potential for international money transfers. Turns out Hinrikus isn’t so bullish about the account (even though he seems to wish he could be).
“I think [bitcoin-powered money transfers] are super exciting, and in a world where we all have a bitcoin wallet in our phones, that actually might work. But how do we go from a world where nobody has a bitcoin wallet to a world where everyone has a bitcoin wallet? That’s the question that I haven’t been able to figure out,” he said in the interview.
“If you think about it today, getting money into bitcoin is a pain in the ass. Getting money out of bitcoin is similarly a huge pain. You end up paying typically half a percent or 1 percent on both ends. It’s a process which takes multiple days, so I think bitcoin – I’m kind of sorry to say it, but – it seems that experiment is becoming dead pretty quickly.
BTC Robot: The New Cheesy Infomercial?
While doing some bitcoin research this week, here at PYMNTS we were taken back by this site: BTC Robot. If you’re thinking “cool, a robot who pays in bitcoin,” then think again.
It’s actually a new ploy to get more in-tune with the digital currency world in what’s being called “the world’s first electronic cyptocurrency robot.” The site even claims that the BTC Robot — software that provides automated bitcoin trading — has generated more than $351,761 in profit (and counting).
If bitcoin had to hire a company to run its PR, this would be it.
What’s better is what its site reads: “When the world is in CRISIS, when the global economy is on the verge of COLLAPSE, when the financial institutions are lining up to go bankrupt.” And then it goes onto claim that “bitcoin is about to take over the world.”
So how does this “bitcoin robot” work? Well, according to this site: “The robot is analyzing the prices in all bitcoin exchange marketplaces in real time, exploiting the gaps and using hedging techniques to take advantage of almost bulletproof profit opportunities.”
While we thought this was a joke at first, there’s actually a place to put in your payment credentials and buy software to help its users start making money for a lifetime membership fee of just $498. There’s no indication of when this site actually launched, but it’s clear they’ve already mislead whoever happened to stumble across the incredibly odd site that’s straight out of a 1990s infomercial.
But if they like bitcoin so much, then why do they accept dollars? Hmmm.
There was one forum online asking if this was a scam, but even this bitcoin site didn’t believe it was. Which is even scarier.
But how can it not be with lines like this: “The price of bitcoin is increasing at an exponential rate and it’s going to continue at least until it is worth between $20,000 and $100,000 / 1 BTC.”
Wrong, and just plain odd. Which maybe shouldn’t be so odd to find on the Internet when researchin