Anticipation continues to build as the dawning of Bitcoin futures trading on CME, CBOE, and NASDAQ comes ever closer; analysts who predicted that Bitcoin might hit $10,000 by the end of this year have had their expectations shattered as the coin has reached $12,000 and is still climbing. The only question now: what’s next?
The upcoming launch Bitcoin futures trading on three major exchanges may be the most significant factor contributing to the climbing valuation of BTC. In November, CME became the first exchange to announce that it would be offering Bitcoin futures, which will begin on December 18th; Nasdaq followed, although the start of the offering does not yet have an exact timeline. CBOE became the latest to offer BTC futures when it announced on December 4th that it would begin its own offering on Monday, December 11th.
Despite the fact that Bitcoin seems to be doing better than ever, some of the world’s more prominent legal and financial figures continue to warn the world of what could be the biggest bubble since the dot com era. Indeed, when CME initially announced that it would be offering Bitcoin futures trading, Interactive Brokers Chairman Thomas Peterffy took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal to warn the exchange that such a move could endanger the “entire economy.” Peterffy argued that Bitcoin’s volatility could have seriously destabilizing consequences.
Just yesterday, Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China said at a financial forum that he feels “scared” when he thinks about what would have happened if China had not cracked down so hard on cryptocurrency earlier this year. Waxing poetic, he believes that Bitcoin is dying:” There is only one thing left to do: Sit by the river bank and see bitcoin’s body pass by one day.”
The Reserve Bank of India also put out a press release yesterday reminding Indian citizens to be wary of “virtual currencies, including Bitcoin.”
Bitcoin’s Twilight Zone? A Million New Forks and Emerging Conspiracy Theories
While the financial sphere is abuzz with Bitcoin, other parts of the Bitcoin world seem to get weirder and weirder. A rash of newly-forked currencies born from the Bitcoin blockchain are now on the menu for the next several months. Bitcoin Silver, Bitcoin Cash Plus, Super Bitcoin, and Bitcoin Uranium (BUM) are all joining the family, along with the just-announced Bitcoin God (with the apt ticker symbol “GOD”).
The rise of Bitcoin-forked coins comes seemingly in tandem with the decline of the era of ICOs. While some exchanges and individuals are seeing the new coins opportunistically, others are concerned that they could cause the market to become fragmented and ultimately damage the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Additionally, conspiracy theories as to whether some of the money propping up the price of Bitcoin even exists further complicate the situation. Bitfinex, the largest crypto exchange in the world, has come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency and its close ties with the Tether network in the past, but eyebrows were raised even higher in November when $31 million in Tether dollars (USDT) went missing from the exchange.
Just this week, Bitfinex threatened legal action against blogger Bitfinex’ed who claims that Tether has been “printing” fake Tether dollars that are used to buy Bitcoin, which is then sold for fiat money.
Despite the warnings and the strange goings-on, however, Bitcoin is charging ahead. Coinbase has trended off and on as the #1 app in the iTunes app store; the demand does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. The Bitcoin network will eventually have to find a way around its as-yet unsolvable scalability problems and increasingly centralized mining industry, but hey: there’s enough pop-cultural clout to send this thing to the moon. At least, for now.