The way value has changed hands has frequently fluctuated over the course of civilization. It seems that 2017 is likely to be the year the cryptocurrency becomes mainstream. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Bitcoin became the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009. Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.
There were more than 900 cryptocurrencies available over the internet as of the 23rd of July 2017 and the number is growing. Ethereum is the second largest digital currency after bitcoin currently. It has seen its value rise fifty-fold since the start of the year to $300 a coin. Ethereum is followed by Ripple and Litecoin in popularity currently. Big banks, tech giants, and other organizations—including J.P. Morgan Chase, Microsoft, and Intel—are uniting to build business-ready versions of the software behind Ethereum, a decentralized computing network based on digital currency.
South Korea has officially legalized international Bitcoin transfers and is on the verge of providing a regulatory framework for Bitcoin trading platforms and exchanges. On February 12 of this year, Coin-telegraph reported that the central bank of the Philippines officially legalized Bitcoin as a remittance method and as a result, Bitcoin industry in the Philippines experienced a surge in growth. Already, according to market data sources, the South Korean Bitcoin exchange market processes over 14 percent of global Bitcoin trades, the third largest market behind the US and Japan. Last month a new gold-backed currency was launched in Dubai. It is a cryptocurrency known as OneGram (OGC), backed by one gram of gold. There is a fixed number of OGCs. According to the managers, “the amount of gold backing each OGC will increase with time.” OneGram has been launched by a private company of the same name. The company claims to offer a proof-of-stake blockchain that is ‘’further anonymized’ than Bitcoin.
In July Barclays’ CEO for personal and corporate banking, Ashok Vaswani, revealed the lender had opened discussions with UK regulators about adopting digital currencies. The People’s Bank of China has reportedly run trials, while the Danish central bank is considering a digital-only e-krone. For at least one retailer that accepts Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency is flowing. Online furniture retailer Overstock.com said earlier this year that it now handles about 100,000 Bitcoin transactions a week, up from 30,000 a year earlier.
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Marco Battaglia writes for the Iowa Free Press and is a proud member of The Fourth Estate