Facing one of the most drawn-out downturns in its brief history, bitcoin is nearing a fork in the road. The cryptocurrency will either rebound and finally enjoy long-term stability, or bitcoin's platform will leave the digital currency back at the fork and carry on evolving. From there, smoke swirls around the crystal ball.
In part one of this series, we explored how bitcoin emerged from the mind, or minds, of a mysterious entity and battled through numerous setbacks to break into the mainstream. It appears the peer-to-peer platform on which bitcoin rests is here to stay, though there is cause for concern about currency itself.
Bitcoin is the only currency that has had a more stomach-tingling ride downhill in 2014 than the Russian ruble and the Ukrainian hryvnia. The digital currency's value has slid from $22 to $37 to an all-time high of $1,216.73 in U.S. dollars on the Mt. Gox exchange in November 2013. Currently, one bitcoin is valued at about $381 U.S. dollars.
Bitcoin has done what it takes to prep itself for mainstream adoption and venture capitalists have been moving at a moderate pace to bet on the cryptocurrency. Venture capital and its bettors will keep bitcoin alive, but it will rise into the mainstream if it is floating on the financial support and stability that only Wall Street can bring. The currency is based on an algothrithm that uses crypotography for security, making it hard to counterfeit.
This latest tumble bitcoin is experiencing could foreshadow a future of the currency melting off its peer-to-peer platform. The fall of bitcoin wouldn't spell the end of its infrastructure, as the system could evolve into a tokenization platform for other currencies.
If other multinational corporations do as Microsoft has done and support it as a viable purchasing currency and if the venture capitalists continue to throw support to the platform, bitcoin's ups and downs will continue to spread out. Crumbling or rebuilding economies could even adopt the cryptocurrency as an officially recognized alternative to their established currencies, a route bitcoin investors could influence if the digital platform should ever have to fear for its life.
Whether tokenized or propelled into the mainstream, there is a debate going on now that disputes whether bitcoin will grow into a threat to currency that backs it. This is where the already overlapping visions of bitcoin's future begin to fade into the smoke inside of the crystal ball.
One school of thought asserts the U.S. government will leverage its regulatory might to drive bitcoin back underground, for fear that the cryptocurrency could compromise the country's ability to levy financial sanctions on banks and countries. If the U.S. sanctions a foreign government, a prosperous bitcoin would provide an anonymous path for the targeted country to continue doing business.
The other school of thought contests that bitcoin has grown too much or that the U.S. government has missed its chance to destroy the cryptocurrency with regulations. Fining legitimate organizations that support bitcoin will only drive the system back into the shadows to a place in which it'll be even harder for the law to finger criminals who use the platform.