Bitcoin is built on the notion that money is any object, or any sort of record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic grouping. Bitcoin uses cryptography, or mathematical equations, to control the creation and transfer of money, rather than relying on governments and central banking authorities. Transfers for loans, sales, purchases or any other methods of payment can be processed by anybody, using a desktop, smart phone, tablet, or laptop. This is all possible without the need for a financial institution to act as an intermediary or recording agent.
Created in 2009, Bitcoin is a digital currency introduced as open source software by an MIT student named Satoshi Nakamoto. There is much speculation as to whether Satoshi is an actual person, or a collection of individuals using a pseudonym. Bitcoin are minted by a process termed mining, in which specialized computer hardware complete complex mathematic equations and are rewarded with a block of bitcoins. This process takes about 10 minutes and the current block rewards 25 bitcoins. The block reward will be halved to 12.5 bitcoins in 2017 and again approximately every four years thereafter. By 2140 there will be roughly 21 million bitcoins in existence.
This week has shown a whirlwind of activity with business owners of all stripes getting on track with Bitcoin. From small businesses in New Orleans, to the Sacramento Kings of the NBA accepting Bitcoin for ticket sales and team paraphernalia, to casinos in Las Vegas, Bitcoin is popping up everywhere. Venture Capitalist Chris Dixon believes Bitcoin may reach $100,000 if it becomes the primary means of ecommerce ( Wired ). The CEO of a major online retailer was quoted as saying “Other retailers will not want to miss out, Bitcoin market is growing by 30% per month.” This same retailer saw a 5% increase in sales the first day it accepted Bitcoin. Zynga Games, one of the largest online gaming companies, responsible for Farmville, Castleville, and a host of others also began accepting Bitcoin for in game financial transactions. After the five Big Banks said no to money from marijuana dispensaries and growers, Colorado’s legal marijuana dispensary industry turned to Bitcoin ( ZeroHedge ). The IRS has also recently launched a campaign that allows taxes to be paid with Bitcoin. There has been Bitcoin ATM’s popping up in cities such as Vancouver, Ottawa, and a Bratislava Slovakia shopping mall. Recently, the New York City Bitcoin ATM was put on hold until a public hearing under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Financial Services can be held.
After flirting with the $1,000 value just after the New Year, Bitcoin has been steadily trading at around $950 on the Mt. Gox exchange over the last fortnight and is being nicely supported by the 50 day moving average indicating Bitcoin is still decidedly bullish. This was surprising to most analysts who believed the regulatory news coming out of China, India, and Russia would burst Bitcoins bubble. However, Michael Robinson, with over 30 years of experience in market analysis, believes most analysts are wrong. He suggests that the strong correction we saw in early December, coupled with the consistent support of the 50 day moving average, indicates Bitcoin is an extremely healthy market, and should only continue to increase in value.