Another jump in the bitcoin price at the weekend sees the rally in crypto assets continue. Bitcoin is currently trading at $6,789, down 0.8% over the past 24 hours but reached a high of $6,871 on Sunday.
The argument that the bear market could be drawing to c a close has certainly been given strong evidence by the recovery of the past week or so. However, bitcoin will need to break above $7,000 over the next few days for the rally to maintain momentum.
Given the fragility of the market on these low volumes, any negative news flow such as more exchange hacks and regulatory threats, could quickly derail the progress seen recently.
A report from global investment platform eToro and Imperial College London published today, has helped the bulls. The report by the respected Imperial College researchers expects to sees wide adoption of crypto over the next few years.
Professor William Knottenbelt from Imperial, said of the report’s findings:
“The world of cryptocurrency is evolving as rapidly as the considerable collection of confusing terminology that accompanies it. These decentralised technologies have the potential to upend everything we thought we knew about the nature of financial systems and financial assets.
“In this context, we wanted to get back to basics: clarifying the nature of cryptocurrencies as a new kind of asset class, contrasting them with traditional forms of wealth, and classifying the main challenges that need to be overcome in order to drive their success forward.
“There’s a lot of scepticism over cryptocurrencies and how they could ever become a day-to-day payment system used by the man on the street. In this research we show that cryptocurrencies have already made significant headway towards fulfilling the criteria for becoming a widely accepted method of payment.”
Imperial and eToro set out six existing challenges that cryptocurrencies will have to address in order to become a mainstream method of payment. These are:
- Scalability – many cryptocurrencies are built on blockchains that aren’t designed to facilitate high volumes of transactions at present. The mining community of individual blockchains needs to prioritise solving scalability issues in order to succeed.
- Usability – like any invention, user-friendly design is at the core of mass adoption. Cryptocurrencies can be complex and require specialist understanding.
- Regulation – this is currently fragmented with different countries pursuing different regulatory routes. Without a standardised global approach to regulation, Bitcoin will struggle to gain mainstream traction.
- Volatility – all fiat currencies fluctuate in value. However, current significant volatility in cryptocurrencies hinders their ability to be considered a store of value. As price movements settle the store of value function can be realised.
- Incentives – any new financial ecosystem requires careful thinking about how its reward system will influence behaviour. If this isn’t built in the right way, then the system will quickly be manipulated by some users to the detriment of others.
- Privacy – while blockchains provide a transparent single source of truth, different levels of privacy available to different users is often attractive. Without this, some people will stay away from cryptocurrencies.
Iqbal V. Gandham, UK Managing Director of eToro, who commissioned the research, said:
“People have grown used to their view of money as a solid, permanently fixed idea when in fact the opposite is true. The history of money is a history of evolution, of new technology replacing old to improve the transfer of value from one person to another. Cryptocurrencies represent a next step on this journey.
“The first email was sent in 1971, but it took nearly three decades for the technology to become commonplace with a user-friendly interface in the form of hotmail. The first ever Bitcoin transaction took place a little over eight years ago and today we are already seeing it begin to meet the requirements of everyday money. Given the speed of adoption, we believe that we could see Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the high street within the decade. There are of course barriers to mainstream adoption, but they are far from insurmountable.
“Perhaps the thing that will ultimately tip cryptocurrencies into mainstream is the issue of cross-border payments. These remain difficult and expensive in many cases. Cryptos are cross-border by design, enabling wealth to be transferred far more easily. The potential for this to be a leading use case looks very strong.”
Dr. Zeynep Gurguc from Imperial, said:
“New payment systems (or asset classes) do not emerge overnight but it is worth noting that the concept of money has evolved – even in our lifetime – from cash to digital or contactless
payments. The wider use of cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets is the next natural step if they successfully overcome the six challenges we set out in our report.”