Continuing its meteoric rise, this cryptocurrency has seen its value multiplied by ten since the beginning of 2018. It is of interest to many investors.
It’s a rising, rising, rising currency. Bitcoin surpassed Tuesday morning the 10,000 dollars, a level never reached so far. By mid-October, it was still trading at around $ 5,000. In total, the value of bitcoin has increased tenfold since the beginning of the year.
Bitcoin is what is called a “cryptocurrency”, a virtual currency. It can be bought and resold via online platforms. Created in 2009 by a group of anonymous developers, it was worth only a few cents. The particularity of bitcoin is that its price is independent of any central bank: all transactions are verified by the “nodes” of the network, that is to say the computers of cryptocurrency users. It is thanks to this system, which relies on a so-called “blockchain” technology, that bitcoin payments are secured. All transactions are registered, under a pseudonym, in a public register. Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency that exists on the Internet; it is nevertheless the most popular and the most lucrative example.
Due to its unique, fully online operation, bitcoin has long been associated with criminal activity and illicit transactions, buying drugs or paying ransoms to hackers. Cryptocurrency has nevertheless attracted many investors, who have pushed his course, and is the subject of a media frenzy. Many articles have been dedicated to people who have become millionaires for having bet on bitcoin before anyone else. Beyond these unusual stories, bitcoin is emerging as a classic means of payment. More than 100,000 websites, like PayPal or Expedia, accept it.
Physical businesses are also involved. In Paris, fifty establishments allow their customers to pay in bitcoin. Banks, for their part, do not know which way to dance. JPMorgan’s CEO called bitcoin a “windy currency” and “fraud”. Christine Lagarde, Executive Director of the IMF, said that it would not be wise to neglect virtual currencies. In Japan, bitcoin has been recognized as a legal means of payment since April. China, on the other hand, tightened its legislation on cryptocurrencies: this decision caused the closure of several important trading platforms.
The rise of cryptocurrencies is not without risk. Bitcoin has seen several resounding scandals. The Mt.Gox trading platform, which brewed 76% of bitcoin trading in 2013, removed the equivalent of 350 million euros. His boss, the French Mark Karpelès, is currently being tried in Japan on suspicion of personal enrichment. The insolent success of bitcoin has also led to the creation of many cryptocurrencies, which are in fact online scams. Above all, the course of bitcoin is unstable. In November, the European Supervisory Authority for Financial Markets (Esma) alerted investors about the risks associated with fundraising in cryptocurrencies. Since its inception, cryptocurrency has experienced many spectacular crashes, and could still be known in the future.