Two weeks ago, Bitcoin saw a dramatic surge in price that saw the digital currency soar from $10,000 to $20,000 in the space of a week.
But in the words of the great Canadian philosopher Ricky: what comes around is all around, and Bitcoin is having its moment of reckoning.
As of the time of writing, Bitcoin prices on the GDAX exchange plunged to around $10,000, marking a 30% fall in the last 24 hours, and nearly a 50% fall in value from the high of $19,666 recorded on Sunday evening. For anyone who bought Bitcoin early this week, it’s a painful and expensive lesson in speculating on unregulated strings of numbers; for the Bitcoin community at large, it’s a reminder that there’s a long way to go for this currency to be “viable.”
At this point, it’s easy to say that wild price swings are Bitcoin’s biggest problem. Crypto-currency as a concept isn’t as dumb as it might sound; on paper, it’s a transparent, secure way to transfer money that doesn’t rely on a handful of centralized banks. But no-one is going to use Bitcoin as a currency when it’s fluctuating by 50% on a week-by-week basis. You don’t want your ability to buy groceries to rely on the whims of crypto traders, and you’re certainly not going to bet your life savings on a coin toss. If Bitcoin wants to grow up, it needs stability, and as fun as the massive week-long price surges have been for investors, they’re not helping the long-term stability.
It’s also showing the limitations of Bitcoin as a completely unregulated currency. Normal investments and government-backed currencies have safeguards against hyper inflation or deflation. Governments can use vast currency reserves — or tools like the interest rate — to help mitigate the effects of speculation on a currency, and keep things stable. Bitcoin advocates love to point out how the currency is decentralized, but just as that means that no-one can “tamper” with your money, it also means that no-one’s coming to save you.