Bitcoin survived a hellish spring period when its value crashed to $320 from winter highs topping $1,000. With the price now hovering around $570, the cryptocurrency faces a series of important events in the coming weeks that could determine its future.
On June 27th, the U.S. Government will auction a stash of seized Bitcoins worth around $17 million, derived from the shutdown of the notorious Silk Road marketplace. The level of interest in this auction and the quality of the buyers are going to be under close scrutiny. At the moment, it looks like there may be some hedge fund interest in the auction. Bidders must deposit $200,000 and verify their identities, so the auction could be a barometer of serious, institutional and corporate interest in Bitcoin.
Even more interestingly, The New York Post reports that Marc Andreessen and NASDAQ are competing to create the first truly legitimate Bitcoin exchange. The powerful New York Department of Financial Services is currently considering various options about creating a regulated Bitcoin trading platform. Once DFS comes out with its regulatory framework, it may create a precedent that will be copied and imitated by other exchanges across the world.
New York’s special role as the world’s financial capital is under some pressure now that the rapidly growing Asian economies are vying for leadership role in various niches from currency trading to initial public offerings. Creating the first solid Bitcoin exchange in New York might shore up the city’s reputation for financial innovation and exploration of new services.
In the meantime, Canada is becoming the first country with comprehensive legislation for Bitcoin trading. The main problem for all cryptocurrencies has been their use in money laundering and the new Canadian laws aim to address that squarely.
Bit by bit, pieces are falling in place for Bitcoin to emerge as a real virtual currency, even while deep public suspicion and vocal opposition from many quarters continues to cloud its long-term outlook.