Bitcoin Tracker: Blowing Past Milestones

Sometimes it pays to be volatile — but there’s always the nagging risk of losing it all.

Bitcoin’s value keeps breaking through ceilings again and again. What looks like a record high one day is left in the dust the next.

It seems blowing past $1,400 at the start of this week wasn’t enough for the digital currency. Wednesday night into Thursday morning, trading saw bitcoin fly by another milestone: $1,500.

On Thursday afternoon bitcoin was worth $1,557.08, according to CoinDesk, up 4.36 percent from Wednesday’s close. The digital currency’s market cap sat at just over $25.4 billion and its supply at just over 16.3 million.

Some exchanges even pegged the digital currency’s value at over $1,600. Later in the day, prices then fell back down to just above $1,500. Despite the drop, bitcoin has seen some enormous growth in a relatively short period of time.

At this time last year, BTC traded at $460, meaning the digital currency’s value has grown over 230 percent within the period—with just over half of that growth coming in the first five months of 2017.

With growth like this, the “outrageous prediction” that bitcoin could hit $2,000 in 2017 doesn’t seem quite so out there. (To be fair, the exact circumstances around the price rise from Saxo’s report were far different.)

In keeping with widened exchange spread trends, Bitfinex saw trading between $80 to $100 higher than average.

In Japan, Nikkei reported that the country could soon see a number of additional bitcoin exchanges following the April 1st “legalization” of the digital currency as a payment method. Some 18 Japanese companies are working to launch exchanges for bitcoin and other digital currencies to cash in on growing demand following last month’s news.

Nikkei noted that, in July of this year, digital currencies will no longer be subject to Japan’s consumption tax, which will work to lessen the cost of trading and boost the likelihood of further corporate financial investments in bitcoin.

The same could same be true in the UAE. On Tuesday, Dubai FinTech company OneGram announced it would offer a blockchain technology-based, gold-backed digital currency called OneGramCoin with the hopes of raising over $500 million in capital.

If reached, this target would be the largest raised during an initial coin sale, OneGram CEO Ibrahim Mohammed told Reuters.

As the name suggests, the value of a OneGramCoin (OGC) is backed by the equivalent value of one gram of gold. To ensure the coin is gold-backed, OneGram reportedly partnered with gold trading company GoldGuard.

It’s an interesting move. Backing OGC with gold looks to quell the volatility and capricious nature (and reputation) of other private digital currencies (especially bitcoin) on the market today.

By no means does a digital currency require decentralization. It’s just an aspect that long-time proponents outside of existing financial structures hold dear. What OGC lacks in decentralization, it makes up for in a clear value referent. And the goal of the digital currency is a bit different than the likes of the more anarchic bitcoin.

Ultimately, OneGram looks to create a payments solution centered around OGC. In this way, the FinTech can provide a payment method that looks to compete in a big way against other major networks by not requiring interchange fees.

“We’re creating a merchant service program, and we will offer these tokens to retailers for free,” Mohammed was quoted as saying. “If you’re paying with Mastercard or Visa, you have to pay 2.5 percent as a retailer to Mastercard. We are creating a payment gateway where the retailer pays nothing.”

The move also means that OGC will be a more liquid asset than some other popular digital currencies currently on the market.

A maximum total of just over 12 million OGC will reportedly be sold in OneGram’s initial coin offering (ICO), slated to begin on May 21 and run through Sept. 22.

According to Mohammed, almost 50 percent of the initial coin offering has been committed. One of Dubai’s largest banks, Tabarak Investment Bank, reportedly plans to sell €100 million ($108.9 million, OGC 2.24 million) to clients.

Recently, Norges Bank, the central bank of Norway, was found to be the latest in a number of central banks globally investigating the creation and issuance of its own digital currency

In a speech on the future of currency at the Norwegian Academy of Science and letters, Norges Bank deputy governor Jon Nicolaisen noted that it was the P2P and anonymity afforded by digital currencies that led the national bank to investigate developing its own.

“Private digital currencies providing anonymity are already on the market,” said Nicolaisen. “These currencies can also be used even if banks’ systems fail — as long as the Internet is still functioning.”

While still in the research phase, Norges Bank is looking in the long term to leverage digital currency as a secure store of value for account holders, as well as an application to enable anonymous peer-to-peer digital transfers. As of now, nothing is set in stone.



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