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2016 Was an Epic Year for Bitcoin

2016 was a year of growth for Bitcoin compared to last year, both in price and infrastructure. Bitcoin has retained its title of best performing currency for the second year in a row, and perhaps more importantly, has found its first taste of legitimacy in commercial use by banks.

The year saw banks and governments all over the world trial the Blockchain for a wide variety of purposes. Meanwhile, several international trends helped the nascent technology shine, including hyperinflation in Venezuela, China’s continued currency devaluations, the demonetization in India, Russia easing their stance on bitcoin, and the surprising Brexit vote.

In case you missed some of them, here are some of the most important headline news events that contributed to this historic year.

January

The year started off filled with news about both bitcoin and digital currencies. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, IMF Director Christine Lagarde presented “Virtual Currencies and Beyond: Initial Considerations,” where she championed the use of digital currencies for governments everywhere.

  • Developer Mike Hearn dramatically quits bitcoin and rages to the press that bitcoin will fail, soon after joining blockchain consortium firm R3 CEV. Bitcoin’s price dropped $50 within hours but soon recovered.
  • People’s bank of China sets up a task force to consider creating their own digital currency.
  • British Science Office director Sir Mark Walport releases an often cited report claiming that blockchains will, “revolutionise services, both in government and the private sector.”
  • Brave Browser launches, with the mission to do away with the existing advertising economy, replacing it with a new one that runs on Bitcoin.
  • Film and TV star Ashton Kutcher correctly predicts on twitter, 10 months in advance, that Bitcoin would be a good hedge against a Trump presidency.
  • The European Parliament discusses bitcoin and digital currencies for the first time.

February

Perhaps the slowest month of the year for news, several different governments began talking about their own plans to use a digital currency, such as the Australian Central Bank which considered its own digital currency for issuing directly to people, bypassing commercial banks.

  • 21 Inc. releases their bitcoin fee prediction app.
  • Sony announces blockchain-based education infrastructure.

March

A major comeback month for Bitcoin, March saw many events that grew the overall bitcoin ecosystem, including the first major retail bank to integrate bitcoin services, USAA. The bank began offering its customers a bitcoin wallet inside their online banking software.

  • South Africa’s largest e-commerce site, BidorBuy, launches bitcoin payments for both buyers and sellers.
  • Genesis mining announces the first Bitcoin Mining fund for fully accredited investors.
  • Flexepin and Bitaccess launch bitcoin sales at over 6,000 retail outlets across Canada.
  • Software industrialization marketplace Code Valley launches, offering a new supply chain style of programme development built on “emergent coding” and bitcoin payments.
  • MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative raises $900,000 to fund a Digital Currency Fund, to help support the bitcoin core development team.

April

After more than a year of hints and rumors, the long-awaited OpenBazaar launches, giving the world a decentralized marketplace platform using bitcoin. Mainstream press largely ignores it, but some recognize that it has “grown from shady origins to something much bigger.” The development team, OB1, would later raise a second funding round of $3 million from venture capital firms, despite still not having a way to generate income.

  • Caribbean bitcoin exchange Bitt gets $16 million investment from Overstock.com. Barbados Finance Minister pledged the government's “full support” to the partnership.
  • Popular video gaming platform Steam starts accepting Bitcoin as payment for video games and other online media.
  • Developer Peter Todd warns the community that the MIT ChainAnchor Project is “an attempt to get Bitcoin users to register their real world identities and associate their transactions with those identities.”

May

The busy month of May saw a lot of bitcoin related news, and one key event for blockchain adoption. The United Nations ID2020 event featured a lot of talk about Blockchain technology, and has been described by attendees as a “blockchain love fest.” Meanwhile, after a series of positive signs from the Japanese government, Japan’s bitcoin trading volume skyrockets past the global US dollar trade volume. Yen trading volumes are now between three and five times the dollar volume, but still nowhere near the Chinese yuan volume.

  • Bitpay offers the first bitcoin debit card available in all US states.
  • Cryptovalley Zug, in Switzerland, becomes first city to accept bitcoin for government services.
  • Indian exchange Unocoin and MobiKwik partner to offer Bitcoin sales across India with over 75,000 merchants.
  • Blockchain releases the Thunder Network alpha, a lightning network that is aimed at business use with smart contracts.
  • The DAO project becomes the largest crowdfunding event in history, raising over $130 million in Ether.
  • The US Postal service publishes a paper exploring four ways that blockchains can save them time and money.
  • Japan passes a law to make virtual currency exchange operators register with the Japanese Financial Services Agency.

June

The DAO project, still popular in the press, was hacked to the tune of $79.7 million, an event that has all but destroyed the project and put a permanent scar in Ethereum, the underlying network it was based on.

Ethereum’s development team chose to ‘hard-fork’ their blockchain in order to give return funds to the victims of the DAO hack. Ethereum has been hard-forked a few more times since in order to repair the damage. Today, the price of one ether is currently less than a third of its price before the hack.

  • Bitcoin Australia and Blueshyft bring buying bitcoin over the counter to over 1,200 newsagency locations across Australia.
  • Bitfinex settles with the CFTC for $75,000 for offering illegal off-exchange financed retail commodity transactions, and failing to register as a futures commission merchant.
  • Citrix announces the results of a survey showing that 33 percent of large businesses are stockpiling bitcoins to prepare for ransomware.
  • IMF report calls bitcoin’s blockchain the “Internet of Trust.” While “created to avoid banks,” the report reads, “bitcoin’s blockchain technology may end up helping them.”
  • Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn announces that he’s working on a major project to use blockchain technology to “save the world.”
  • Bitcoin shines as a safehaven asset in response to Brexit vote.

July

Bitcoin’s second-ever Halving Day arrives, a once-every-four-years event where the amount of bitcoins paid out to miners as a reward for mining is cut in half. The event is expected to occur next in July 2020. The price of bitcoin had been gradually rising for months prior to the event, but it didn’t move much on the actual day. It is speculated that the halving is still a major reason that bitcoin’s price is on the rise.

  • Bitcoin Bank Xapo comes to Uber’s rescue in Argentina, allowing people to ride with bitcoin-fueled debit cards after the government shut down Uber’s credit card payments.
  • Ukraine announces their plan to use blockchain tech in government auctions, reducing corruption.
  • Popular cloud drive service Seafile starts accepting Bitcoin after dropping PayPal for freezing a large amount of their income.
  • Caribbean bitcoin exchanges flourish as major banks pull out of the region due to de-risking. “I expect bitcoin to become a part of everyday life in the Caribbean in around eighteen months,” said Bitt CEO Gabriel Abed, “starting in Barbados.”

August

Popular bitcoin exchange Bitfinex is hacked for the second time. To stay in business, the exchange decides to ‘socialize’ the losses, taking 36 percent from all user accounts. The price of bitcoin responds immediately to the hack, plunging 20 percent, but regained the losses within 10 days as the company issues IOUs in the form of Bitfinex Tokens.

  • Kim DotCom announces that MegaUpload 2.0 will run on bitcoin micropayments via his upcoming BitCache network. The launch date for MU2 is set to take place on Jan 20, 2017. "Buy bitcoin while cheap,” he told Fortune magazine, “like right now, trust me."
  • Former chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Peter Smith, co-authors a letter published in American Banker declaring that bitcoin will disrupt the payments industry.
  • The UN announces that one of its charities is seeking two volunteers to move to Africa to work on and teach locals about Bitcoin.

September

Central Banks made a lot of noise in September. The Bank of Canada published their findings that volatility in Bitcoin’s price is steadily declining, and will eventually cease to be a hindrance to mainstream use. Meanwhile, the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier gave a speech stating that central bank-issued digital currencies will compete with commercial banks, polarizing the two banking industries overnight.

  • Jio Wireless smartphones begin sales in India, said to greatly help bitcoin industry.
  • Blockchain supply chain solution Provenance sets out to help end human slavery in the fishing industry.
  • A Bitcoin is sent into space, or at least 34 KM up on a weather balloon, by the Genesis mining company.
  • A New York Judge declares that Bitcoin is money, in relation to a criminal court case against a hacker who stole from JP Morgan Chase.
  • Winklevoss-owned New York bitcoin exchange Gemini launches their daily auction.
  • Japanese exchange Coincheck announces electricity program allowing customers to pay their electricity bills with bitcoin.

October

The Swiss federal railway system becomes the world’s biggest bitcoin ATM operator when it starts selling bitcoin through 1,000+ ticket machines. The machines are scattered all across the country and are used by a majority of Swiss citizens on a weekly basis. Along with the other initiatives that the Swiss government has taken in Zurich and the canton of Zug, Switzerland has cemented its status as one of the most progressive bitcoin countries.

  • Janus Fund Manager Bill Gross told Bloomberg that bitcoin is becoming an increasingly attractive way to protect against the central banking system.
  • W3C Web Payments Working Group announces new standards that integrate bitcoin.
  • South Korea announces plans to create a national digital currency.
  • Bitcoin version 0.13.1, with the upgrade called SegWit, is released.
  • Anonymous cryptocurrency Zcash launches, momentarily becoming the world’s most expensive currency, worth about US$2.3 million for each.

November

Tullett Prebon partners with BraveNewCoin to become the largest Interdealer Broker to offer comprehensive digital currency data. The firm offers BNC’s BLX bitcoin data, plus spot prices for the top 50 altcoins to financial firms around the world, including partners Reuters and Bloomberg.

  • BTC China, the oldest bitcoin exchange still trading, launches US Dollar service.
  • Bitcoin’s price jumps 4 percent overnight on news of Donald Trump winning the presidency.
  • Major Korean bank Shinhan announces Bitcoin-backed remittance service.
  • CME group launches a pair of Bitcoin price indexes.
  • Popular bitcoin wallet Blockchain creates its 10 millionth wallet.
  • Japanese insurance firm Mitsui Sumitomo announced the first insurance product for bitcoin exchanges.

December

All eyes have remained on bitcoin’s price throughout December as the USD price climbed from the mid 700’s to nearly $1000, going almost parabolic on December 20th. Oddly, most of the news about bitcoin for the month has been negative, including a Federal Judge demanding Coinbase turn over customer data to IRS. The company has appealed the order, saying that it’s too broad in scope and encourages hackers to steal from innocent people.

  • Bitcoin Bank Circle stops all buying and selling of bitcoin, effectively leaving the bitcoin industry.
  • Bitgive’s GiveTrack offers a transparency platform for other charities.
  • The central bank of Nigeria sets up a committee to study bitcoin penetration.
  • Global Advisors GABI fund becomes the first to list on a securities exchange.

Republished from Brave New Coin.

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