The Biggest News in the World of Cryptocurrency, 2018

While 2017 was one of the most memorable years in the in existence of cryptocurrency and the hodling community, 2018 was one that was rife with ups and downs – from a continuous fall in the prices of Bitcoin and subsequently all other cryptocurrencies, to over $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies being stolen this year alone. Still, the chapter of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is far from over. With a bearish trend this year, will 2019 see the resurgence of the market?

Let’s look at some of the major developments and events that took place in the world of cryptocurrencies this year. Without further ado, here we go:

1. January 8; Ripple reaches its peak of $3+ and starts falling on January 10

The last year, 2017, was one of the most exciting years for all cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin was on the mainstream horizon and was getting a lot of attention, even from non-tech centric media around the world. At the same time, other cryptocurrencies also rose significantly in value through to the next year, with Ripple showcasing its popularity by surpassing the $3 mark in value.

Unfortunately for Ripple and its hodlers, it couldn’t maintain its peak for long and started plummeting rapidly as the month progressed. At the time of writing, the value of Ripple is well below the $1 mark, and the world wonders whether it will be able to recover its former glory in 2019.

2. January 10; Ethereum also reached its peak of $1400+, started falling on Jan 15

Ethereum gained a lot of prominences and grew insanely fast in 2017, becoming extremely famous among the world’s tech communities. There was a rising level of interest in DApps (Decentralized Apps), based on the Ethereum Blockchain. Ether, at the time, reached its peak of 1417 USD in mid-January 2018.

Since then, however, it has been steadily plummeting all through 2018, losing value through each passing month. At the time of writing, it operates at 115 USD – a mere shadow of what it was at the start of this year.

3. Facebook, January 31; Bans all advertising related to Bitcoin, and ICOs and other cryptocurrencies

In a move that understandably enraged the cryptocurrency community, Facebook decided to ban all advertising related to Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, extending this ban to ICO related advertising as well.

This was another massive blow to the world of cryptocurrencies, given that the community had already witnessed a huge crash in the market around this time. Things, however, took a turn for the better in June – where, after months of enforcing it, Facebook finally removed the ban on cryptocurrency advertisements. This was a clear indication of the fact that the popularity of cryptocurrencies was growing exponentially in spite of the continuously falling values of all the currencies.

What makes this ban seem even more peculiar is the fact that in December 2018, Facebook made an announcement of its plan to launch its very own cryptocurrency!

4. Malta, February 21; Becomes the World’s FIRST Blockchain Regulated State

February might be the shortest month of the year but it proved to be significantly big for Blockchain technology. Another member of the EU – Malta – announced that it was preparing to become the world’s first country to have blockchain regulations.

Malta‘s officials have claimed that they are taking this initiative very seriously, and are looking forward to becoming the leaders in the world for blockchain.

5. Google, March 14; Google Bans all Cryptocurrency-related Advertising

Following in the footsteps of Facebook, Google too decided that it had a problem with cryptocurrency ads and decided to place an overall ban on cryptocurrency related advertising in March 2018. This ban came at a time when cryptocurrencies were being discussed in the mainstream media, even though cryptocurrencies themselves were experiencing a crash in the market.

While still being a setback, the ban was relatively shortlived as – just a few months later, in September, Google decided to go ahead and remove this ban while allowing cryptocurrency related ads made within their guidelines. This can be taken as a sign that even giant corporations are finally warming up to cryptocurrencies.

6. U.S. June 4; SEC Appoints First Ever Cryptocurrency Chief

The United States of America became the first country to appoint the world’s first Cryptocurrency Advisor to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Valerie A. Szczepanik was appointed as the head of the special ‘cryptocurrency task force’, a newly created unit within the SEC.

The chief of the SEC commented that they won’t change the securities laws to cater to cryptocurrencies – a fact that might have been disheartening to hear for some. Still, this appointment is solid proof to the fact that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are finally being accepted into the mainstream economy.

7. September 21; Ripple surged, Moving Past Ethereum into Second Place

The last week of September saw Ripple grow to such an extent where it overtook Ethereum in becoming the world’s second largest cryptocurrency. However, this second place was held briefly by Ripple before Ethereum claimed it again. Ripple managed to take back the second spot in a back-and-forth movement, only to lose that spot to Ethereum again in less than a week.

All of this happened as a result of Ripple’s sudden surge in price, which was seen to grow by 100% in value in just a matter of days. This may have occurred due to peoples’ beliefs that banks and other financial institutions are adopting Ripple’s technology for making faster transactions.

8. Venezuela, October 1;  Maduro announces the adoption of Petro – Venezuela’s state-owned cryptocurrency

The President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, announced the adoption of Petro – a state-owned cryptocurrency, backed by oil, launched in February – while addressing the country’s economic issues (the state of hyperinflation in Venezuela). Announcing that the ‘Petro Wallet’ would be available on Google Play Store, he said that public sale would only start by November 5th. He added that the insertion of Petro into global trade comes after the development and deployment of the token as part of the country’s recovery program. He also made the order for domestic banks to use petrol as a unit of account.

Petro has been very controversial, with Venezuelan lawmakers declaring it illegal along with U.S. President Donald Trump signing an executive order to impose sanctions against the country banning dealings in Petro.

9. Sweden, October 26; First Economy to Introduce Own Cryptocurrency

Even though 2018 saw cryptocurrencies descend from their peaks, it was still significant for the hodling community as it scored a major victory in Sweden. Being a member of the EU, it became the first major economy in the world to introduce its very own cryptocurrency.

The Central Bank of Sweden, Sveriges Riksbank is all set to introduce the ‘e-Krona’ for performing monetary transactions in Sweden. The introduction of and formal use of this currency is a significant step towards a future involving cryptocurrencies being used as a legitimate mode of transaction in all markets of the world.

While being a small step for the Scandinavian nation, it is one giant leap in the journey towards the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.

10. November 15; Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) experienced a hard fork on November 15th, where it split into two – BCHABC (Bitcoin Cash Adjustable Block Capacity) and BCHSV (Bitcoin Cash Satoshi’s Vision). The hard fork happened when developers and miners within the BCH ecosystem disagreed on proposed changes to the software. The disagreement escalated to the point of pitting two of the biggest cryptocurrency personalities (and their subsequent communities) against each other – Roger Ver and Craig Wright.

Many big cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance, Bitfinex, and Coinbase supported the hard fork, and the owners of Bitcoin Cash were issued BCHABC and BCHSV on a 1:1 ratio.

11. November 28; Amazon Announces Launching Blockchain Services

Amazon is launching two new blockchain services –  Quantum Ledger Database and Amazon Managed Blockchain. Amazon Managed Blockchain would allow the setting up and scaling up of blockchain networks. It supports the Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric. AWS CEO, Andy Jassy noted that companies tend to use the Hyperledger Fabric when they know the number of members in their blockchain network, and want robust private operation and capabilities. AWS has a promise of the service scaling to thousands of applications and will allow users to run millions of transactions.

Working with the Managed Blockchain would entail the use of the AWS Console and configuring nodes, adding members and deploying applications.

12. December 7; Discussions In Place For Dash To Be Accepted At Fast Food Outlets in Venezuela

There was an announcement that KFC Venezuela could soon begin accepting Dash, adding to the number of food outlets in the country that are taking crypto. However, the international fast-food chain denied the news two days after the announcement was made. Instead, another fast food chain, Church’s Chicken, announced that it would accept Dash as a form of payments in all in locations across Venezuela.

In order for merchants to accept Dash payments; Dash Merchant Venezuela, an organization with the aim of increasing the number of merchants in Venezuela adopting dash, has set them up with ‘first point of sale’ devices that links the Bolívar and Dash rate. Echeverría, CEO of Dash explained that the system allows merchants to accept payments, with the money then being redirected to the owner’s crypto wallet.

13. Market Crash of November & December

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies started seeing a decline of as much as 65% in the months of January and February. This trend continued to point in November where the cryptocurrencies fell to as low as 80% in value, as compared to its lifetime high in mid-December 2017.

There are multiple reasons associated with this fall. In mid-December 2017, Bitcoin saw a massive surge in value, leading to many investors selling their Bitcoin in hopes of earning massive gains. This behavior largely led to a sharp decline in prices, in the following months. In November 2018, the instability of U.S. stock exchanges along with the volatility of oil prices led to further worsening of the cryptocurrency market.

14. The Biggest Cryptocurrency Hacks of 2018 – A Year that saw $1 billion worth of Cryptocurrencies being Stolen

The year 2018 also experienced the largest amount in cryptocurrencies being stolen. The year saw attacks on numerous exchanges wherein cryptocurrencies approximately worth $1 billion were stolen. The following is a list of exchanges, the time of the attack and the value of cryptocurrencies (in USD) that were stolen:

a. January – Coincheck, $534.8 million

On January 26, around 523 million NEM coins were stolen from Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck. At the time of the hack, the coins were valued at 58 billion yen or 534.8 million USD. Coincheck was acquired by Monex Inc., a Japanese financial services group in April 2018.

b. February – BitGrail, $170 million

A small Italian cryptocurrency exchange with a less than impressive trading volume was in a perfect place for trading Nano (XRB). The asset went from around $0.1 back in November 2017 to as high as $34 in January 2018, trading between $9 and $10 at around the time of the hack. BitGrail reported that the hackers got away with 17 million Nano, worth around $170 million at the time of the incident.

c. June – Coinrail, $40 million & Bithumb, $31 million

A tiny exchange in South Korea, Coinrail, lost more than $40 million worth of cryptocurrency as a result of the hack. The project’s team, in a moment of desperation, froze the stolen tokens immediately and halted trading.

In spite of being a mainstream exchange and one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea, Bithumb was subject to a hack in the same month that Coinrail for hacked. During the attack, approximately 35 billion Korean Won ($31 million) worth of cryptocurrency was stolen. After the hack was discovered, the exchange’s management made a pledge to refund the losses to all affected customers from its own reserves.

d. September – Zaif, $60 million

Another Japanese cryptocurrency exchange by the name of Zaif was subject to an attack in September. Hackers accessed the exchange’s hot wallets, resulting in the theft of $60 million worth of cryptocurrency assets from the exchange. The owners of the exchange, Tech Bureau Corp., promised to cover the losses of all the affected customers and got into a deal with Fisco Ltd., to do so.

e. October – MapleChange, $6 million & Trade.io, $8 million

Late in October, MapleChange – a small Canadian cryptocurrency exchange reported a hack, in which practically all the funds amounting to $6 million were lost. The announcement was made following which the company’s management shut down all of its website and social media accounts. Everything was deleted including the data of the customers. Many of MapleChange’s customers were not buying the ‘hack’ story, suspecting the whole fiasco to be nothing but an ‘exit scam.’

Swiss-based Trade.io was another cryptocurrency exchange that was hacked in October. As per its reports, the company lost about $8 million worth of TIO token which was apparently stolen from one of the company’s cold wallets. The stolen tokens were supposed to be used as the project’s liquidity pool. The management, therefore, performed a fork to get the fund back. Interestingly enough, the team stored the wallet in local bank’s deposit safe.

Since the safe wasn’t reported to be compromised, the only explanation is that the ‘hacker or hackers’ somehow managed to access the wallet details for making the transfers, indicating that this might have been an ‘inside job’.

Conclusion

This year, albeit largely being the year of a bear market for cryptocurrencies, saw a lot of entities and enterprises warming up to blockchain technology and its applications. UNICEF allotted funds towards blockchain research for the purposes of humanitarian aid. IBM and Carrefour have adopted blockchain technology for tracking food sources. Seven EU nation, known as the ‘Mediterranean Seven‘; Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, France, and Malta have banded together for the use of blockchain technology for the development of various departments. All these factors and events point towards the mass adoption of Blockchain technology.

Cryptocurrencies have no doubt been hit the hardest this year with many hodlers taking a back seat and many others abandoning hodling altogether because of the nose-dive that the values have taken. However, just like any market – one has to expect bearish trends to occur (considering this is one of the newest entities in the world of economics and finances). Any and every market experiences a period of momentary decline, and markets have crashed terribly in the past. That hasn’t prevented us from functioning in this ever-changing economy. It hasn’t prevented us before, so why should it be any different now?

This article was compiled and written by Haroon Beg and Rohit Baviskar.

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