2016 was a year of growth for Bitcoin compared to last year, both in price and infrastructure. Bitcoin has retained its title of best performing currency for the second year in a row, and perhaps more importantly, has found its first taste of legitimacy in commercial use by banks.
The year saw banks and governments all over the world trial the Blockchain for a wide variety of purposes. Meanwhile, several international trends helped the nascent technology shine, including hyperinflation in Venezuela, China’s continued currency devaluations, the demonetization in India, Russia easing their stance on bitcoin, and the surprising Brexit vote.
In case you missed some of them, here are some of the most important headline news events that contributed to this historic year.
The year started off filled with news about both bitcoin and digital currencies. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, IMF Director Christine Lagarde presented “Virtual Currencies and Beyond: Initial Considerations,” where she championed the use of digital currencies for governments everywhere.
- Developer Mike Hearn dramatically quits bitcoin and rages to the press that bitcoin will fail, soon after joining blockchain consortium firm R3 CEV. Bitcoin’s price dropped $50 within hours but soon recovered.
- People’s bank of China sets up a task force to consider creating their own digital currency.
- British Science Office director Sir Mark Walport releases an often cited report claiming that blockchains will, “revolutionise services, both in government and the private sector.”
- Brave Browser launches, with the mission to do away with the existing advertising economy, replacing it with a new one that runs on Bitcoin.
- Film and TV star Ashton Kutcher correctly predicts on twitter, 10 months in advance, that Bitcoin would be a good hedge against a Trump presidency.
- The European Parliament discusses bitcoin and digital currencies for the first time.
Perhaps the slowest month of the year for news, several different governments began talking about their own plans to use a digital currency, such as the Australian Central Bank which considered its own digital currency for issuing directly to people, bypassing commercial banks.
- Coinbase announces its Shift card.
- 21 Inc. releases their bitcoin fee prediction app.
- Sony announces blockchain-based education infrastructure.
A major comeback month for Bitcoin, March saw many events that grew the overall bitcoin ecosystem, including the first major retail bank to integrate bitcoin services, USAA. The bank began offering its customers a bitcoin wallet inside their online banking software.
- South Africa’s largest e-commerce site, BidorBuy, launches bitcoin payments for both buyers and sellers.
- Genesis mining announces the first Bitcoin Mining fund for fully accredited investors.
- Flexepin and Bitaccess launch bitcoin sales at over 6,000 retail outlets across Canada.
- Software industrialization marketplace Code Valley launches, offering a new supply chain style of programme development built on “emergent coding” and bitcoin payments.
- MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative raises $900,000 to fund a Digital Currency Fund, to help support the bitcoin core development team.
After more than a year of hints and rumors, the long-awaited OpenBazaar launches, giving the world a decentralized marketplace platform using bitcoin. Mainstream press largely ignores it, but some recognize that it has “grown from shady origins to something much bigger.” The development team, OB1, would later raise a second funding round of $3 million from venture capital firms, despite still not having a way to generate income.
- Caribbean bitcoin exchange Bitt gets $16 million investment from Overstock.com. Barbados Finance Minister pledged the government’s “full support” to the partnership.
- Popular video gaming platform Steam starts accepting Bitcoin as payment for video games and other online media.
- Developer Peter Todd warns the community that the MIT ChainAnchor Project is “an attempt to get Bitcoin users to register their real world identities and associate their transactions with those identities.”
The busy month of May saw a lot of bitcoin related news, and one key event for blockchain adoption. The United Nations ID2020 event featured a lot of talk about Blockchain technology, and has been described by attendees as a “blockchain love fest.” Meanwhile, after a series of positive signs from the Japanese government, Japan’s bitcoin trading volume skyrockets past the global US dollar trade volume. Yen trading volumes are now between three and five times the dollar volume, but still nowhere near the Chinese yuan volume.
- Bitpay offers the first bitcoin debit card available in all US states.
- Cryptovalley Zug, in Switzerland, becomes first city to accept bitcoin for government services.
- Indian exchange Unocoin and MobiKwik partner to offer Bitcoin sales across India with over 75,000 merchants.
- Blockchain releases the Thunder Network alpha, a lightning network that is aimed at business use with smart contracts.
- The DAO project becomes the largest crowdfunding event in history, raising over $130 million in Ether.
- The US Postal service publishes a paper exploring four ways that blockchains can save them time and money.
- Japan passes a law to make virtual currency exchange operators register with the Japanese Financial Services Agency.
The DAO project, still popular in the press, was hacked to the tune of $79.7 million, an event that has all but destroyed the project and put a permanent scar in Ethereum, the underlying network it was based on.
Ethereum’s development team chose to ‘hard-fork’ their blockchain in order to give return funds to the victims of the DAO hack. Ethereum has been hard-forked a few more times since in order to repair the damage. Today, the price of one ether is currently less than a third of its price before the hack.
- Bitcoin Australia and Blueshyft bring buying bitcoin over the counter to over 1,200 newsagency locations across Australia.
- Bitfinex settles with the CFTC for $75,000 for offering illegal off-exchange financed retail commodity transactions, and failing to register as a futures commission merchant.
- Citrix announces the results of a survey showing that 33 percent of large businesses are stockpiling bitcoins to prepare for ransomware.
- IMF report calls bitcoin’s blockchain the “Internet of Trust.” While “created to avoid banks,” the report reads, “bitcoin’s blockchain technology may end up helping them.”
- Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn announces that he’s working on a major project to use blockchain technology to “save the world.”
- Bitcoin shines as a safehaven asset in response to Brexit vote.
Bitcoin’s second-ever Halving Day arrives, a once-every-four-years event where the amount of bitcoins paid out to miners as a reward for mining is cut in half. The event is expected to occur next in July 2020. The price of bitcoin had been gradually rising for months prior to the event, but it didn’t move much on the actual day. It is speculated that the halving is still a major reason that bitcoin’s price is on the rise.
- Bitcoin Bank Xapo comes to Uber’s rescue in Argentina, allowing people to ride with bitcoin-fueled debit cards after the government shut down Uber’s credit card payments.
- Ukraine announces their plan to use blockchain tech in government auctions, reducing corruption.