The major crypto currency Bitcoin saw its price retreat slightly from highs of over $18,000 on Thursday to around $15,000 on Friday as the market was looking for some stabilization after hours of wildly fluctuating highs. The same could not be said of other crypto currencies such as Litecoin which saw its price rise by an astonishing 60% in less than 24 hours setting a new record of $160 on Saturday morning. Other cryptos also saw their price increase exponentially with Ethereum touching the $480 mark at one point whilst Ripple also rose by around 15% over the same 24 hour period.
The bitcoin price made another bullish run on Thursday, reaching above $18,000 for the first time in its brief history. Friday morning, however, the bitcoin price began to ebb from this peak, providing altcoins with an opportunity to begin to mount a recovery after Thursday’s carnage.
At the height of the rally, bitcoin carried the cryptocurrency market cap above $450 billion, briefly making the sum total of all cryptocurrencies more valuable than tech conglomerate Alibaba. However, at the time of writing, the cryptocurrency market cap was valued at $415 billion, which nevertheless represents a 24-hour increase of approximately three percent.
Bitcoin Price Pierces $18,000
Thursday was a frantic one for the bitcoin markets, as traders once again grappled with outages at some of the world’s largest exchanges. Altogether, the global average bitcoin price reached a new all-time high of $18,353, with U.S. exchange GDAX pricing it as high as $19,697 at the height of the rally. Friday morning, however, the bitcoin price began to decline, and by the time of writing, it had settled down to $15,532 — a mark just above its previous-day level.
Nevertheless, this week’s movement has been sufficient to propel bitcoin into 18th on the list of the world’s most valuable liquid currencies, placing it ahead of Australia and Luxembourg.
Altcoins Plot Minor Recovery
Fueled by ethereum, altcoins made a $5 billion advance on Friday, raising the altcoin market cap to $152 billion. However, those gains were not evenly distributed, and several top-tier coins continued to decline against the value of the dollar.
The bitcoin cash price rose nearly seven percent to $1,452, raising the third-largest cryptocurrency’s market cap to $24.5 billion. The IOTA price leaped 22 percent, shaking off Thursday’s temporary pullback.
Ripple and dash each rose more than eight percent, and the litecoin price rose just enough to broach the $100 mark once again.
However, bitcoin gold, monero, and cardano continued to post moderate declines on Friday to round out the top 10, although their one-hour charts signaled that a recovery may be imminent.
The ripple price received a 13 percent bump after the fintech startup revealed that it had put its 55 billion XRP tokens into escrow.
Ripple Price Rallies 13 Percent
The ripple price had spent the majority of the week in decline, falling from $0.254 on December 1 to $0.222 this morning. However, shortly before 1:00 UTC, the ripple price shot up as high as $0.272 before leveling off to a present value of $0.250 — a 12-hour gain of nearly 13 percent.
Ripple Escrows 55 Billion XRP
The apparent justification for the upswing is the announcement that Ripple — the fintech startup behind XRP — had officially placed 55 billion of its estimated 61.8 billion XRP into escrow. Each month, 1 billion tokens will be unlocked for Ripple’s use, and any unused tokens will be placed back into escrow.
This development eliminated the threat that Ripple could flood the market with XRP, effectively crashing the price. Though highly unlikely, this scenario was possible since Ripple holds almost twice as many XRP than are currently in circulation. Now, XRP investors know with certainty the rate at which new tokens will enter the market, enabling them to better establish a fair value price for the token.
“By securing the lion’s share of XRP in escrow, people can now mathematically verify the maximum supply that can enter the market. While Ripple has proved to be a responsible steward of XRP supply for almost five years – and has clearly demonstrated a tremendous track record of investing in and supporting the XRP ecosystem – this lockup eliminates any concern that Ripple could flood the market, which we’ve pointed out before is a scenario that would be bad for Ripple!,” the company wrote on its blog.
Ripple had announced its intention to escrow these tokens months ago, so the news had already been somewhat priced in. Nevertheless, the escrow’s execution provided the ripple price with another bump, enabling the fourth-largest cryptocurrency’s market cap to rise to $9.7 billion.
On December 5, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, cautioned investors of bitcoin, clarifying that the government is yet to regulate bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges within the local market.
An official statement released by the RBI read:
“Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on December 24, 2013, [cautioned] users, holders and traders of Virtual Currencies (VCs) including Bitcoins regarding the potential economic, financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks associated in dealing with such VCs. Vide press release dated February 1, 2017, RBI has also clarified that it has not given any licence/authorisation to any entity/company to operate such schemes or deal with Bitcoin or any VC.”
Central Banks Not Happy With Bitcoin
At a financial forum held in Shanghai last week, Chinese central bank People’s Bank of China (PBoC) deputy governor Pan Gongsheng stated that in the long-term, bitcoin will decline in value and adoption. “One day you’ll see bitcoin’s dead body float away in front of you,” said Gongsheng.
However, contrary to the statement of Gongsheng and the warning of the RBI, the demand for bitcoin has increased exponentially over the past few months. Even after the nationwide imposition of the cryptocurrency exchange ban by the Chinese government, central bank, and financial authorities, the price of bitcoin has increased from $5,000 to $12,600, peaking at $13,000 earlier today, on December 6.
In an interview with Quartz, cryptocurrency exchange Codinome CEO Vivek Steve Francis explained that if the RBI’s intention is to ban cryptocurrencies and restrict bitcoin, the Indian government would already have done that by now. But, because excessive regulation and an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading would send bitcoin trading to unregulated over-the-counter (OTC) markets, the government has been hesitant towards providing unnecessarily strict regulations on cryptocurrency exchange and the bitcoin market.
“If India had to ban virtual currencies, they would have done that by now. In the last three years, the RBI’s statement has been the same: They are uncomfortable with it and people should invest at their own risk,” said Francis.
It has become increasingly challenging for governments to either ban or heavily restrict bitcoin usage because of the exponential growth of the cryptocurrency market, rapid increase in demand for the cryptocurrency, and the high probability that traders will migrate to unregulated markets upon the imposition of a cryptocurrency trading ban.
A similar trend has occurred in China, in which traders have moved to overseas markets such as Hong Kong with offshore accounts to trade cryptocurrencies. As such, BTCC, Huobi, and OKCoin, formerly three of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in China, have rebranded to BTCC.com, Huobi Pro, and OKEx, to provide OTC services in Hong Kong.
As a decentralized currency and peer-to-peer protocol, bitcoin eliminates the necessity of intermediaries such as banks, and most importantly, separates money and state. Bitcoin diminishes the significance of central banks and questions the existence of government-issued currencies, or the fiat currency system.
Despite the widespread adoption of bitcoin as a robust store of value and safe haven asset by general consumers, investors, major financial institutions, institutional investors, investment banks, and businesses, in the long-term, central banks will likely continue to reassert their opposition against bitcoin, given that it possess a serious threat to their authority.