The cryptocurrency asset class has become a global phenomenon, transforming the way in which transactions are made. Bitcoin was the first decentralized digital currency, introduced in 2008 by an unknown person or entity named Satoshi Nakamoto. This article will explore the history of cryptocurrency, revealing the dramatic fluctuations which have marked the market throughout time.
The Genesis of Cryptocurrency : Bitcoin’s Infancy, 2008-2010
Bitcoin had no market price when the first block in the blockchain was mined, also known as the “genesis block”, in January 2009. The early stages of Bitcoin were marked by the lack formal exchanges, and skepticism regarding its potential value. In May 2010, a Florida programmer named Laszlo Hányecz bought two pizzas with 10,000 Bitcoins. This was the first time Bitcoin had a monetary price. The price of Bitcoin, based on the cost for the pizzas was just a fraction.
Growing awareness and increased volatility (2011-2013).
In 2011, Bitcoin started to gain attention and other cryptocurrencies (often referred to by the term “altcoins”) began to appear. In February, Bitcoin’s price reached $1 due to increased awareness. The year was marked with significant volatility. Bitcoin prices reached a high in June of $31, only to fall back to $2 at the end of the year.
In 2013, the story about cryptocurrency prices took a dramatic turn. Bitcoin’s value experienced a second surge in April, when it reached a high of $266 before plummeting to under $50 the following month. In November, it reached $1,242, driven by a growing user base as well as increased adoption from businesses.
The Mt.Gox Incident, and the Subsequent Fall of 2014
The infamous Mt.Gox scandal in 2014 had a major impact on the cryptocurrency narrative. Mt.Gox, at the time, was the leading Bitcoin exchange in the world, processing approximately 70% of Bitcoin transactions. The exchange filed for bankruptcy and suspended trading in February, after it was revealed that 850,000 bitcoins had been stolen.
Mt.Gox led to a collapse in Bitcoin prices. By the end of 2013, the price had dropped from more than $1,000 to $300. This period was a major setback in the growth of cryptocurrency, reflecting the vulnerabilities of the security infrastructure.
The Great Crypto Bull Run, ICO Boom and Recovery (2015-2017).
In the period from 2015 to 2017, the price of cryptocurrencies gradually recovered after the Mt.Gox fiasco. As Ethereum, Ripple Litecoin and other altcoins gained significant market capitalization, the cryptocurrency market started to diversify.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) boom of 2017, in which new projects raised money in existing cryptocurrencies – primarily Ethereum – increased demand for these cryptocurrencies and led to a rise in their price. In December 2017, Bitcoin reached a new high, just below $20,000. Many other cryptocurrencies reached their highest levels. This period was known as the “great crypto bull run” of 2017.
The Crypto Winter 2018-2019
After the “euphoria” of 2017, the cryptocurrency markets entered a period known as the “crypto-winter” in 2018. Bitcoin’s price fell to $3,200 at the end of 2018. Prices dropped across the board. Markets remained bearish throughout most of 2019.
Blockchain networks are facing regulatory scrutiny, skepticism by traditional investors and concerns over their technological scalability.
Many of the projects that raised significant funds during the ICO boom had weak business models. Some were outed even as scams. The combination of regulatory crackdowns and a loss in investor confidence led to further price declines.
Recovery and Mass Adoption (2021-2022)
In the beginning of 2020, cryptocurrency prices began to recover slowly but steadily. Bitcoin started the year around $7,200, and ended the year just below $29,000. This is a 303% increase. This year saw the resurgence of altcoins. Ethereum finished the year with a gain of more than 469%.
This recovery was driven by a variety of factors. First, the COVID-19 epidemic caused a global economic slowdown, which prompted central banks to adopt monetary expansionary policies. Investors began to view Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as a hedge from inflation when fiat currencies started to depreciate.
Second, 2020 will be a year of significant institutional adoption for cryptocurrencies. MicroStrategy, Tesla, and other companies have incorporated Bitcoin in their balance sheets. Payment giants such as PayPal also started to offer cryptocurrency services.
The Current Landscape & Beyond (2022-2023).
By mid-2023 the cryptocurrency price fluctuation was extreme. The trend has been upwards over the years, indicating the increasing acceptance and adoption by the public of cryptocurrency as a legitimate investment class.
The market has shown a consistent resilience despite its peaks and valleys. It bounces back after every bearish phase. However, the past performance of cryptocurrency should not be taken to predict future results. The market is still susceptible to regulatory decisions and technological changes as well as shifts in investor attitudes.
The story of the history of cryptocurrency is one of technological innovation and speculative bubbles. It also tells of regulatory challenges and mass adoption. It’s reasonable to expect a stabilization of prices as the market matures, becomes more regulated, and is widely accepted. The nature of cryptocurrencies will ensure that they remain a volatile asset, requiring careful risk management by those who are willing to navigate the turbulent waters.