Happy 2019 everyone! This is one of my longer posts so if you’re not the reading kind, skip down to the end where you’ll find my video review of this content on my video podcast Crypto Corner (which is on Wednesdays on Youtube).
With that said, I can begin my crypto review of 2018.
If 2017 was the year when the world woke up to the concept of crypto (and Bitcoin in particular), 2018 will go down in history as the year of the worst Bear Market or in other words, the year of the Bitcoin Bubble Burst (if we follow the mainstream media bubble narrative).
From $17,527 to Only $3,919 in Just a Year…
Before we dive into a new year let’s take a moment and reflect on the events that shaped 2018 and the biggest Crypto Crash we’ve seen in the past five years. 2018 has been the most active year for the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry, as it saw significant progress in strengthening the infrastructure supporting the asset class. At the same time, 2018 goes down in history as the year when new investors saw their crypto portfolios shrink by up to 90% and many sold their assets at loss, left the market altogether and one big unknown now is how many of these investors will come back to crypto even when it starts its next bull run. Surely a great number of these investors have lost their appetite for the volatility of this new asset class and might not be drawn back in after incurring such huge losses in just one year. Those who bought at the peak of the hype in Dec 2017 (at $15K, $18K and even $19K) saw their capital melt in a matter of weeks when Bitcoin dropped rapidly from its ATH to a mere $7K by the end of January and it continued its slide down ever since.
John McAfee, Bitcoin supporter and founder of the popular McAfee antivirus software, predicted that Bitcoin price will hit $1 million by 2020 following last year’s prediction of $7000 which was well surpassed. At the beginning of 2018 this seemed a bit far-fetched to many, but not quite as bad compared to how the year ended (under $4000). Bitcoin saw a correction of 84% causing an even bigger correction to the alts and as a result the total crypto capitalization also recorded a loss of nearly 88%. Let’s reflect back on the events that took place and shaped the year in crypto:
In January Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his interest in cryptocurrencies. On his Facebook page, Zuckerberg published a message detailing his ‘personal challenge’ – similar to a resolution – for the new year, accompanied by a pledge to study technologies “like encryption and cryptocurrency.” This became viral news in a matter of hours but it did not help with Bitcoin’s price which continued its bear trend. On New Years Day 2018 the price jumped between $13,500 and $14,000 until it slowly crept up to $15,000 before eventually hitting $17,000. After this, everything seemed to move downhill. From here the price continued to crash throughout January as Bitcoin reached the low price of $9,600. Worldwide, the fundamentals kept being largely negative, the Japanese exchange Coincheck was hacked and around $500 million worth of the altcoin NEM on Jan 26th.
At the same time Visa CEO declared that “Bitcoin is not a payment system and added that “…We at Visa won’t process transactions that are cryptocurrency-based. We will only process fiat currency-based transactions…”.
Visa stated that the crypto cards had been suspended due to “continued non-compliance with our operating rules”.
Bitcoin’s fees were another huge problem throughout December2017-January2018 where they reached a peak of up to $80 and more. On average a Bitcoin transaction fee was around $30 and many exchanges and other crypto payment processors had to up their minimum withdrawal requirements. Microsoft even went as far as removing Bitcoin as a payment option for a few months until the fees were reduced later in the year.
China was threatening mining businesses yet again and many began moving out of the region to escape legal implications.
Browser mining became a bigger threat after it started targeting mobiles and it was featured in many articles and blogs in the crypto space.
By the second month of the year the Bitcoin bull was wiped out by 50% already and the trend was not going away.
Throughout most of January and February, talks of digital currency regulation began to heighten across the globe. These two months, in particular, saw a lot of regulatory discussions stemming from South Korea. The country introduced a nationwide cryptocurrency account system, which banned the anonymous trading of digital assets in South Korea.
Litecoin saw the announcement of two payment processors – LitePay and LitePal – LitePal is expected to be released later this year. According to the official website, users would be able to use the service with PayPal, Western Union, Bitcoin and Litecoin, and the fees will be really low… Sadly, we did not see this come to fruition. Litepay in fact turned out to be a fluke and it was dropped altogether just two months later.
We also witnessed the last of the highly anticipated forks of Bitcoin in the face of Bitcoin Private which forked off an alt coin (Zcl) with Bitcoin combined, marking the first hybrid fork as its known today and the last of the Bitcoin forks that the public had high hopes for. It tanked badly from the very beginning and never managed to recover from the Zclassic’s pre-fork pump levels, making every investor great losses of up to 95%.
Its main developer Rhett Crouton was later removed from the project and went on to create other similar forks loosing much of his credibility in the crypto community.
Circle which used to be a crypto wallet app and later a paypal-like alternative for mobile payments, backed by Goldman Sacks, acquired one of the biggest (at the time) crypto exchanges Poloniex which added even more negative sentiment to its already diminishing popularity. Today Poloniex is one of the least respected exchanges and its trading volumes have dropped considerably, making it one of the least popular exchanges – what a year it’s been for what used to be a crypto giant.
In march we saw Tether, the stable coin backed by Bitfinex, making the headlines with an ever increasing threat of being investigated for fraudulent coin production (printing) and what followed was more public fear and uncertainty about its legitimacy which contributed to lower trading volumes and negative public sentiment.
Bitcoin prices in this time of the year varied in the window between $10,492.20 to $6,953.53 USD which would later become the average price of Bitcoin for the greater part of the year. Worlwide, the G20 Financial Stability Board declared the cryptocurrency market, specifically Bitcoin, as a non-threat to the global financial industry. This breakthrough led to a large acceptance of the cryptocurrency market globally and positively impacted the way the G20 nations viewed, dealt with and regulated the cryptocurrency market.
April started relatively steady with the price of Bitcoin jumping between $6,000 and $7,000 only to see a massive surge on 12th when the price went up nearly a thousand dollars in under an hour. Sadly, this was not enough to pull Bitcoin back over that sought after $10,000 threshold. Bitcoin prices in April varied between $6,901.96 to $9,318.46 USD. While names like George Soros, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs and other key players from Wall Street entered the market, quite a few Asian countries announced a blanket ban on the market. China, India and Pakistan announced through their central banks that all businesses, banks and startups registered with them will be withdrawing support for the cryptocurrency market. While this announcement did not exactly ban cryptocurrencies in these countries, it made it very difficult for people to hold, trade, buy and sell. It wasn’t until 3 months later that trading and mining was given the green light again in most of the region.
As the cryptocurrency market slid into the middle of the year, the cryptocurrency market faced the biggest blows of 2018. The three big names in social media and search engines, ie Google, Facebook and Twitter (and later Yahoo), all announced banning ads for the cryptocurrency and ICO markets.
Mainstream media rushed into finding more negative content, such as the whopping $1.2 bln worth of Bitcoin stolen since 2017. Meanwhile, in Ukraine someone gave the green light to build a Satoshi monument in Kiev but that never became viral news and it went almost unnoticed amongst a declining crpyto appeal.
No big changes happened in June for the cryptocurrency market and there was an undercurrent of discontent amongst the community because of the relentless blanket bans and ad-bans that the cryptocurrency market was being faced with.
During the month more than 80% of the price the Bitcoin bull was neutralised as Bitcoin varied between $7,555.12 to $6,371.19 USD.
EOS migrated from their ERC20 token, based on Ethereum to its own native blockchain which was met with mixed feelings. It experienced a short-lived pump in the build-up to the event and since then the price has been on a steady decline.
Tron (TRX) followed suit and also migrated to their own mainnet, minus the negativity surrounding the EOS token transfer.
Ethereum, began loosing community support and started a much deeper decline of value which continues to this day. Its inability to scale and implement the much discussed upgrades is seen as its biggest weakness and threat to its future.
In July those social media giants we mentioned earlier started to lift their cryptocurrencies ad-ban. This brought back a slight feeling of hope in the comunity and Bitcoin prices jumped from the mid-6K range to the $8K in a matter of days.
In the US, the SEC rejected the Winklevoss brothers proposed ETF for a second time and all eyes were on SEC for the following 5 weeks when more applications for Bitcoin ETFs were due.
Many financial bodies and institutions came together to make regulations and put rules in place for the cryptocurrency market. August also saw the SEC’s crackdown on the ICO sector of the cryptocurrency market.
Apart from that the cryptocurrency market also had many ETF applications being rejected.
The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced the Bakkt Exchange. Bitcoin in August was trading between $7,275 to $7,079 USD and many traders began calling it a “stable coin” due to its low volatility during the entire month. This of course was a joke and was very short-lived.
September was a highly volatile period for the cryptocurrency market. It saw coins drop close to $1,000 USD in a day and worse.
The cryptocurrency community was also expecting an answer to the VanEck ETF application but that was postponed and is yet to be reviewed.
September also market the beginning of dominance of the security “stable” coins of the market. In fact, the Winklevoss twins released their Gemini stable coin in September too.
Bitcoin in this period was valued between $7,261 to $6,624 USD.
In comparison to the other months, October was a relatively quiet month for the cryptocurrency market. Not much happened and Bitcoin managed to stay pretty steady.
The Intercontinental Exchange postponed the release of Bakkt which was highly anticipated as a price catalyst. In December alone, Bakkt secured a $182 million investment from major venture capital and technology conglomerates in the preparation of its launch due in January 2019 but most likely to be delayed further.
Bitcoin ended October at $6,325 USD.
November was the month that marked the beginning of one of the worst hash wars the market has ever seen and new lows in price point for Bitcoin and all crypto in 2018. The BCH community split down the middle into two right before their network update was due because of ideological reasons, causing a hard fork and much publicized fight for dominance on the market. What ensued after the hardfork was a long drawn out hashwar that managed to pull down the entire market, even Bitcoin. After gaining the most proof-of-work and a majority of the infrastructure support, the Bitcoin Cash ABC side of the fork was rewarded with the “BCH” ticker, and the other network’s ticker is listed as “BSV” across global exchanges. Both lost their value by at least 50% and are yet to recover from this event.
Before the 12th November, the price of Bitcoin seemed to be doing well at $6,400 but on the 12th the cryptocurrency was sent crashing down below three key resistance levels, to the low price of $3,600.
These new lows also put much strain on both independent miners and bigger pools, many of whom went out of business and closed doors. Genesis Mining, one of the most prominent cloud mining services closed thousands of contracts, many customers were left in the cold with losses or the choice of adding even more capital to sustain their unprofitable contracts.
The world’s first ETF was approved in Switzerland in November. This is was a big breakthrough for the cryptocurrency market but it failed to make world headlines since Switzerland has never been a strong player in the world crypto stage. There was zero price action driven by this news and the mainstream media was more focused on headlines that called for the demise of Bitcoin.
December has been very touch and go for the cryptocurrency market. The market entered December at a low and had been slipping even further. But with that being said, December also saw a little reprieve when the market recovered very briefly, bringing Bitcoin to the resistance of $4,200 USD. But following that, the market went back down again. For the most part of the month Bitcoin stayed in the mid-3K price range.
With hope for the next year, the cryptocurrency market enters 2019. And has all the makings of being a good one.
What’s in store for 2019?
As of December 31, the Bitcoin price remains down 80 percent from its all-time high at $19,500 and is en route to ending the year in the midst of a steep sell-off and a deep bear market.
Bakkt has been working closely with the CFTC to gain regulatory approval for the newfound BTC-settled futures contracts and is due to be launched in Q1 2019 (unless it is postponed yet again). This venture has been discussed heavily in the crypto community due to its significance for bigger crypto adoption.
The partners and investors supporting Bakkt on their institutional-grade digital asset exchange include; the Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Goldfinch Partners, Alan Howard, Horizons Ventures, Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, Pantera Capital, PayU, the fintech arm of Naspers, and Protocol Ventures.
There’s also the possibility of a bigger ETF coming into play in 2019, which will bring more mainstream and retail investors in the crypto world.
Lightning network is gaining traction and I’m hoping to see it launch properly toward the second or third quarter of 2019 and this is due to bring some positive price action once again.
A few Bitcoin ETF applications are also in the waiting for approval by the US securities commission so this could finally bring the much-needed media hype that usually comes with mainstream adoption and could potentially cause a short-term spike in the prices which would be ideal trading opportunity.
Ethereum is due a major upgrade and the much-anticipated POS switch so let’s see how this will play out, TA shows me a definite upmove must come soon but if Bitcoin experiences another down-slide to lower price levels, that will further delay the recovery phase of ETH too. In the long term though, I am bullish on ETH as well as ETC and LTC which are also at their near-bottom levels already.
The upcoming hardfork of Ether is the preparation for this transition into proof of stake. Named Constantinople, this is one of the most awaited hardforks of Ethereum. The discussion for Ethereum Nowa started back in August 2018 and the launch has been postponed multiple times since. It is now scheduled for the 16 Jan and this will cause an upmove in the short term.
As for BCH and BSV – I am really not a fan of these forks, their leadership is too centralized and often resort to scammy tactics in their marketing approach to fully trust them for the long-run.
Lastly, Ripple: XRP is all over the media and gaining more and more fanbase, even among the crypto community, which is surprising to see, given that this project has always been seen as a centralized, bank-enabler and was rather hated for the past few years. Clearly the new crypto investors are buying into the hype about XRP and I cannot blame them, after all, XRP had a phenomenal few months in this bear market, holding its price quite well compared to the rest of the top 10 coins and this is what investors like to see, so if there’s no major issues with XRP, it is bound to do well in 2019 too.
This is my latest episode of the Crypto Corner Podcast where I go through the events of 2018 and share my thoughts on the year ahead, I would love to hear from you, leave a comment below and have a very profitable 2019.