One year after the publication of Nakamoto’s groundbreaking white paper, bitcoin launched as the world’s first cryptocurrency:
- Peak valuation – It took just three years for bitcoin to become the intense focus of speculators. The first run-up in bitcoin’s price (symbol: BTC) happened in mid-2011. More upswings took place in late 2013, in Dec. 2017, and most recently on Feb. 19, 2021, when bitcoin reached a new all-time high of $54,000. In April 2021, the cryptocurrency market value topped $2 trillion for the first time, as Ethereum’s ether hit an all-time high of $2,151.25.
- Market dimensions – The number of cryptocurrencies listed on CoinMarketCap, the reference site for digital asset developers and speculators alike, has jumped from just seven on Apr. 28, 2013, the first available historical snapshot, to a staggering 4,505 today.
- Mainstreaming – According to The Harris Poll, 16% of Americans have money in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum. After bitcoin reached its latest peak, it continued surging through March, as such corporate investors as MassMutual, Square, and Tesla bought in, further driving up the cryptocurrency’s value. Businesses that accept bitcoin range from AT&T to the German and Venezuela branches of Burger King, Microsoft, Namecheap, Overstock, Wikipedia, and even a Rancho Mirage 3D-printed home development. Tesla now lets you buy a car with bitcoin, and as of Mar. 30, 2021, U.S. PayPal users can pay with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. Square lets digital wallet customers buy and sell bitcoin, while small businesses can accept fractional bitcoin amounts as payment for goods and services.
- Retail investors – Retail investors have also poured into crypto using apps like Robinhood and Coinbase, which is now going public at a $68 billion valuation.
In a little over a decade, bitcoin went from an enigmatic concept to every technocrat’s favorite investment vehicle. There’s no question that the cryptocurrency market is poised for a golden future.