Bitcoin’s price just reached another all-time high time on Friday, briefly passing $8,000, while the bitcoin community celebrated a few monumental achievements.
The popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase just announced a new option for institutional investors to securely store digital assets with Coinbase Custody. This will allow more hedge funds and family offices to safely and lawfully work with cryptocurrency. “Coinbase Custody is only available to institutional investors with a minimum of $10M in deposits,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrote in a blog post. “There is an initial setup fee of $100,000 USD, and a fee of 10 basis points per month on assets stored.”
Meanwhile, Lighting Labs and the team behind the cryptocurrency litecoin completed the first cross-chain swap between bitcoin and litecoin. This is a big deal because so far blockchain networks each exist in their own separate spheres. In order to move value from the bitcoin network and the Ethereum network, for example, users typically needed to go to an exchange and swap currencies like travelers do with paper bills. But what if you had a magic wand that could instantly change one currency into another by yourself?
“You can now transfer value instantaneously across blockchains,” litecoin creator Charlie Lee told International Business Times. “This opens up tons of new possibilities including decentralized exchanges.”
“It’s an important building block for a future where you can exchange crypto assets without having to go through an entity that holds custody of the funds,” Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark told IBT. “Future applications include high frequency trading, algorithmic trading, and machine learning applications with instant, high volume cross-blockchain transactions.” Next her team is working on a beta version for the public, then cross-blockchain technology for even more networks.
Forbes reported many experts now believe bitcoin could soon reach $10,000. Both CME Group Inc and the Swiss bank Vontobel will soon offer bitcoin futures. Cryptocurrency derivatives might usher in a whole new category of financial products in 2018. The Korean ATM manufacturer Nautilis Hyosung also reportedly announced plans to make regular ATMs that can transact with bitcoin through a joint venture with the American fintech startup Just.Cash.
Despite all this, most Americans still don’t understand the cryptocurrency industry. A YouGov survey of 1,000 Americans found 24 percent believed cryptocurrency is mostly used for illegal transactions while 38 percent weren’t sure if most virtual currency is used for lawful transactions.
On the other hand, people in developing countries are flocking to buy bitcoin because of the extra security and mobility it offers. “Bitcoin is a safe haven for people around the world who don’t trust their governments,” Andrew Milne, chief investment officer and co-founder of Altana Digital Currency Fund, told Bloomberg. “There are many countries where people are looking for an asset that isn’t vulnerable to banks blowing themselves up.’’ This demand is also driving up bitcoin prices in regional markets. CNN reported bitcoin hit $13,000 on a Zimbabwe marketplace this week.
No matter how you look at it, bitcoin is no longer a niche trend for black markets. Millions of users worldwide are watching mainstream businesses experiment with bitcoin as prices continue to rise.