In 2019, bitcoin turned 10 years. At the turn of this important milestone, for the third year in a row, I bring you all the breakdown of major events that defined the blockchain industry in 2019.
key talking points in 2019
- Price movements: bitcoin started the year at around $3700 as bitcoin marked 10 years since the creation of the first transaction on Genesis block on January 2009. Later in May, price surge sees bitcoin reach new highs of $8000 and later hitting $13,000 in June in an all-time high for 2019. By mid-December, Bitcoin was at around $7000, accounting about 90% growth in 2019.
- Road to Ethereum 2.0: Since its formation in 2015, Ethereum has been undertaking upgrades. In 2019, the upgrades continued. The CONSTANTINOPLE hard fork was slated for January but postponed to February. December 2019 finally saw its third successful upgrade, the Istanbul hard fork. All these are in readiness for Ethereum transition to proof of stake (PoS) expected in 2021.
- At the start of the year, the Lightning network hailed as a potential breakthrough solution for the year for scaling bitcoin and fast transactions. ‘Passing the torch’ was common on Crypto Twitter, late January onto February where different personalities propose a person to test the lightning network. The end of the year saw slow but steady growth.
- China mixed signals on the blockchain ecosystem. Starts the year by announcing laws that would compromise blockchain security and ends with President Xi Jinping advocating for blockchain and calling on China to lead the way in blockchain adoption. Mainstream media such as Xinhua supports the adoption of blockchain.
- Bitcoin use in emerging markets goes parabolic. Regions experiencing economic and political turmoil becomes a major focal point hailed as one of the best showcases of bitcoin use it times of crisis. Case point: Venezuela. Even in Hong Kong, there was a spike in demand as locals opted to pay a premium to get bitcoin as a safe haven alternative to local currency. In addition, trade volumes in crypto P2P exchanges such as Paxful and Localbitcoins hit all-time high driven by emerging markets such as South Africa, Argentina, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. In Venezuela, weekly bitcoin trading volumes were continually broken throughout the year.
- Bitcoin ATMs hit 6000 globally from 4000 at the beginning of the year, a 66% growth. The US alone has 4133, Africa has 14.
- Jack Dorsey unveils SquareCrypto, a new initiative with a mission to ‘to support open-source bitcoin development and accelerate mass adoption’.
- After a widely successful token sale, Telegram was reported to launch its mainnet in March 2019, before it was postponed amid SEC investigations.
- Rise of IEOs: In 2019 predictions, Security toke offerings (STOs) were projected to dominate but it did not happen, instead Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) becomes the preferred method of fundraising for crypto projects with Binance Launchpad dominating. First Half of 2019 saw 64 projects raise $1.6 billion.
Source: Blockchain Capital.
- USA SEC: KIN and EOS: first SEC came after KIN, for conducting unregulated securities sale for KIN cryptocurrency. Then came EOS which settled for $24 million without admission of wrong-doing. The two are among the ICO projects that raised huge sums of money from the 2017 ICO boom with KIN raising $98M and EOS $4 billion. SEC also stopped Telegram ICO in September saying Telegram did not register to issue the tokens and therefore illegal for US investors.
- On June 18th, Facebook announces Libra project with the launch of its whitepaper. It’s basically a stablecoin backed by a basket of fiat currencies with aim of forming a global payments network. It’s a partnership with companies like Visa, Uber, Paypal, Mastercard and host of 27 other companies. I broke down the contents of the whitepaper on this post. Later on, Libra is off to a rocky start with lawmakers up in arms forcing a hearing in US congress. Several members of the initial team also leave the project by the end of the year.
- US president, Donald Trump tweets about Bitcoin, saying he’s ‘not a fan of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and they are not money, value is volatile and based on thin air’. This was just after the announcement of Facebook’s Libra.
- Central bank digital currency (CBDC): With crypto not dying and in the wake of Libra, many central banks and governments seem to be considering the idea of a CBDC in a bid to maintain their control over money. France announced it would aim to launch one in Q1 2020, China likely to do so too with EU, Tunisia, and Ghana being rumored.
- Acquisitions: Binance has acquired 4 startups overall and 3 in 2019: the Indian-based exchange WazirX, China’s DapPReview, Seychelles-based JEX. Coinbase acquired: Neutrino, which was controversial because the CEO of the company had previously worked on surveillance technology and Coinbase had to come out to explain their decision. Coinbase also acquired Xapo’s institutional business with $7B assets under management.
- Crypto exchange hacks: Cryptopia, a New Zealand based exchange was hacked. In early May, Binance hacked with 7000 BTC valued at $40M lost.
- 18th Million bitcoin mined: this means only 3 million bitcoins remain to reach the limit of 21 million around 2140. This came about 6 months before the next bitcoin halving in May 2020.
- Statista Global Consumer Survey: conducted a survey in 2019 asking respondents about their awareness of cryptocurrencies around the world. Turkey emerged as a country with most people using or owning cryptocurrencies with 20% of the population (1 in every 5 citizens). Brazil takes the second spot followed by Colombia, Argentina and South Africa making the top 5. Japan was the lowest with 3%.