No doubt 2019 was another turbulent year for bitcoin and the whole cryptocurrency market. A major renovated interest around the industry, after the disastrous bear market of 2018, was also fuelled by the launch of Bakkt futures and options.
#1 The birth of Libra
According to many that also triggered bitcoin year’s high of $13,800 on 26th June and the question is, why did that happen if the two are not related and, in fact, one is the negation of the other?
Libra appeared to the world as a stable global cryptocurrency built on a secure network and backed by a reserve of assets that help keep its value stable.
The currency shook the bitcoin world in different ways though
First, Libra is the negation of bitcoin in being overtly and unabashedly centralized.
Nodes are controlled by the founding members of the Libra Association with Facebook Mark Zuckenberg on top, therefore one does not even have to wonder how to interpret centralization, whether in a philosophical or a technical way.
Second, there will be no limit in the number of Libra tokens that can be minted or burned. The process will happen automatically, and only in response to demand from authorized Libra resellers, who will purchase tokens for fiat.
Along with the double-spending solution, decentralization and scarcity are the two major breakthroughs brought by Bitcoin. And Libra is denying them both.
Yet, it is a stablecoin and alongside the volatile bitcoin, the future of stablecoins looks very promising. Not everyone will jump on board of the philosophical, economical and monetary revolution wished by bitcoin maxis therefore digital stable currencies that travel fast and securely across the globe will have a major traction for any consumer.
The impact that the Facebook coin has brought and will bring to the monetary and financial world will be enormous. Most of Facebook’s two billion users were introduced to digital currencies for the first time.
In all honesty, that was the best marketing for bitcoin as finally people globally acknowledged the existence of a possible new way of transacting in a fast and secure way outside of the traditional channels led by the banking system.
This is the main reason behind 2019 bull market and one that brought bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more to the spotlight, to the point that they even started being debated by Congress in the US.
#2 Altcoin capitulation
The second major happening in the space during the last 12 months, was by no doubt the capitulation of most of the altcoins.
With Bitcoin dominance hovering around 70% of the whole market throughout the year, the remaining 30% is split between 2385 coins or tokens currently listed on coinmarketcap.com.
The main reason for the downfall of altcoins price and dominance is the effect of 2017 and 2018 cryptocurrency scams that tainted the reputation of the whole market. Multi-million dollar projects that did not see any technical development or plan follow-throughs, ill-intentioned crypto start-ups, failed projects for the lack of funding, these were all part of the problem.
In terms of price, we will reference the losses to the market highs of June 2019.
The Ethereum platform reversed the positive momentum of 2017 when DApps seemed to offer a promising use case and instead revealed themselves as non-attractive, useless and often scam projects. It’s true that the whole market has been in a descending trend since June, but ETH lost a further 50% of its value against BTC since June of this year. Marking a miserable performance throughout 2019.
Despite a few sporadic good partnerships that the Ripple network secured until last year, in 2019 financial institutions and banks have not confirmed any interest for XRP cryptocurrency and no major collaborations have been agreed. It lost 60% against the dollar since June and over 50% against BTC, raising serious questions over the future of the third-largest cryptocurrency in the space in terms of market capitalization.
Litecoin failed to deliver a positive outcome from its second halving, which occurred in August.
After a promising pre-halving price jump in June when the cryptocurrency reached $142, the asset lost over 70% against the dollar and the same percentage against BTC.
#3 Bitcoin hash rate
Finally, we would like to bring readers’ attention to the bitcoin hash rate that’s been talked about a lot lately across the cryptocurrency community.
When the top coin hit its year’s high of nearly $14K, its hash rate reached a record-breaking high following a network’s mining difficulty adjustment (a setting that adjusts automatically to keep its blockchain producing a block once every 10 minutes, on average) with an increase of 11%.
Since then, bitcoin hash rate has continued to grow and keeps on reaching new all-time highs.
But why is it important and how does it affect the price?
Bitcoin hash rate measures the total processing power of the network at any one time.
As more miners join the network, the hash rate increases. A strong hash rate is indicative of a secure blockchain and makes it more difficult for bad actors to perform a 51% attack.
The higher the hash power of the network, the greater the number of miners would be needed to commit a 51 percent attack. Many consider it as the second most significant bitcoin data point besides price, but why?
A secure and stronger network brings more trust and reliability to the system, this is why new price highs are often matching new hash rate highs. It’s noticeable that the BTC hash rate fell dramatically when the cryptocurrency reached 2018 low of $3234 on December 16th and went from October’s 58 terahash (or 58 TH/s, or 58 trillion hashing operations per second) to 34 TH/s on 13th December.
If you’re into specific data and numbers, the current Bitcoin’s hash rate is pushing above 112 quintillions (112,000,000,000,000,000,000+) hash calculations per second, making Bitcoin’s network the world’s biggest supercomputer by far, in terms of calculations performed per second.
The year 2020 will be crucial for bitcoin price, with the halving event happening in May.
The hash rate increase is offering a robust network leading to the event but price bets are open and equally split between a negative impact and a positive one.
It’s important to remember that previous halvings signaled a steady price growth only months after the event.
Will it be the same this time around?