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Latest BTC Trends In 2024
- Bitcoin ETFs were approved on January 10, 2024.
- Bitcoin Ordinals (NFTs) and BRC-20 tokens open up new ways to use the Bitcoin network using inscriptions, a recent innovation that allows data storage on the Bitcoin blockchain.
- About 1 million Bitcoin wallets now hold 1 BTC or more.
- Bitcoin Halving in April 2024.
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What Is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, as described in the now-famous Bitcoin white paper. Created in 2009, Bitcoin was the first of today’s cryptocurrencies, later giving inspiration to projects like Ethereum and thousands of other crypto projects.
And while today’s crypto market offers thousands of other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin still stands in a league of its own, topping the charts with the largest market capitalization and the best name recognition worldwide.
In addition to being the first among the current digital currencies, Bitcoin is also seen by many as being the most secure crypto network, largely due to its wide mining network and Bitcoin’s steadfast commitment to proof-of-work as its consensus method to validate transactions.
Like most other cryptocurrencies, the Bitcoin network works as a public ledger. For standard transactions, it’s trivial to see which wallet sent Bitcoin to which wallet, how much, and when the transaction happened.
Bitcoin was designed to be money, a verifiable and secure way to send value from person A to person B. But new developments like inscriptions (data storage) are bringing new functionality to the Bitcoin network, including Bitcoin’s own version of NFTs and BRC-20 tokens that trade on the Bitcoin network.
Prior to 2023, Bitcoin was only seen as a decentralized payment system. However, the Taproot network upgrade opened up a whole new world of possibilities for Bitcoin, introducing the concepts of Ordinals.
Ordinals brought the concept of NFTs to the Bitcoin network for the first time, allowing users to inscribe photos, videos and more within blocks and trade them. And after an initial hype cycle, it is increasingly starting to look like Ordinals are here to stay.
BRC-20 tokens were also made possible by the recent Taproot upgrade. While Ordinals represent the NFTs of the Bitcoin network, BRC-20 tokens represent the fungible version of this innovation. Instead of allowing unique images or videos to be inscribed into Bitcoin, BRC-20 tokens allow users to own and trade fungible altcoins on the Bitcoin network.
Who Founded Bitcoin?
Bitcoin was created by an anonymous team or individual. Someone using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto is credited with the creation and has never been positively identified, despite several people claiming to be Satoshi over the years.
Bitcoin’s anonymous roots and fair launch (mined, not sold) also make the grandaddy of crypto a standout in the market. To our knowledge, Bitcoin was created without a profit motive — but rather with an altruistic intention: to offer a sound alternative to what was seen at the time as a broken financial system. Bitcoin’s launch coincided with the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of the late Aughts.
Satoshis, or Sats, are the smallest division of Bitcoin, with each Bitcoin equal to 100 million Satoshis.
A large part of Bitcoin’s appeal is in its fixed supply. Bitcoin mining continues to grow the circulating supply, but there is a fixed limit to how many Bitcoin will ever exist: 21 million.
The Bitcoin Halving
Bitcoin’s supply follows an emission schedule that is dependent on halvings. This is an event that takes place on average every 4 years and reduces the amount of new Bitcoin that enters circulation and is paid to miners for validating the network.
Each halving has a diminishing impact on the Bitcoin network, but has historically acted as a catalyst for price increases. The next bitcoin halving is set to occur in April of this year, and we put together a whole guide covering it here!
How Bitcoin Works
Bitcoin uses proof-of-work to validate transactions. In a nutshell, Bitcoin miners must invest computational power (electricity, hardware, and maintenance) to verify a block hash with specific requirements before transactions can be added to the blockchain. As the hash rate increases on the network, mining difficulty increases (and vice versa) to keep the average block time at about 10 minutes.
Miners earn both network fees and block rewards for successfully mining a block. Once transactions are validated in a block, it becomes prohibitively expensive for the block to be changed because all the subsequent blocks would also have to be mined again.
Bitcoin miners also use the longest chain, so a rogue miner working overtime to re-mine prior blocks is unlikely ever to produce the longest chain. Shorter chains are ignored. This clever structure makes Bitcoin transactions virtually impossible to reverse and truly decentralized, with over 1 million miners across the globe.
Like other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin uses crypto wallets to store Bitcoin. Each wallet has private keys and public keys, with private keys allowing you to control your Bitcoin on the blockchain and send your Bitcoin to any public wallet address. Others can also send Bitcoin to your public wallet address, making Bitcoin function as a way to transfer value — like money, but without any middlemen like banks or payment services.
What Is The Bull And Bear Case For Bitcoin
There are many reasons that investors have become interested in Bitcoin. But on the flip side, there are also considerations to be aware of when investing in the world’s largest cryptocurrency. Below are the common bull and bear cases for the future of Bitcoin:
- Digital gold: Many people view Bitcoin as a more accessible and storable version of gold. Buying Bitcoin can be a bet that the future will be more digitalized, and investors will begin buying Bitcoin over gold.
- Scarcity: One of the biggest claims to fame for Bitcoin is its fixed supply of 21 million. There are few assets in the world where the total possible supply is known.
- Peer to peer payments: Bitcoin is currently being used for global remittances and in other ways as a peer to peer payment system, as it was intended. While a lot of infrastructure still needs to be built, Bitcoin has proven that it has potential as non-government controlled money.
- Protection against monetary debasement: As dollars and fiat currencies enter our financial system at increasing rates, the fixed supply of Bitcoin becomes more and more attractive.
- Volatility: The large price swings of Bitcoin in the short term hurt its ability to be used for everyday payments.
- Network scalability: If Bitcoin hopes to be the peer to peer payment system that it was intended to be, it will need to find more solutions to scale its network significantly.
- Lack of backing: Bitcoin is currently only worth what others are willing to pay for it.
- Ease of adoption: Using wallets, blockchains and learning the language of crypto can be complicated and time consuming.
Other Things To Be Aware Of
Bitcoin Dominance is a measure of how large Bitcoin’s market capitalization is compared to the total cryptocurrency sector. This is measures as a percent and is a popular indicator to see where money is flowing within the industry.
Investors watch the BTC.D chart closely to determine if Bitcoin is leading the way, or an “alt-season” can be expected. Historically, Bitcoin used to make up the vast majority of the crypto market’s valuation. But as more and more meaningful blockchains and applications launch, we expect this to continue to decline.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Launching with simply a white paper and an anonymous founder, the future of the Bitcoin network was put in the hands of the community. As a result, intense debates have occurred over the years around the purpose and best use case for Bitcoin. This debate has led to variations of the network launching with modified code, which are called forks.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) was the first fork off of Bitcoin, launching in 2017 in an attempt to speed up Bitcoin’s transactions. While the original purpose of Bitcoin was to be a peer to peer payment system, this become unattainable as the network got extremely popular. Bitcoin Cash emerged to fill this crack, acquiring a loyal community of its own in the process.
BCH is still relevant, but things never truly played out. Instead of overtaking the OG crypto, other solutions such as the Bitcoin Lightning Network and other Layer-2s emerged to aide Bitcoin’s troubles.
Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV)
Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) came a year later in 2018 and forked the existing Bitcoin Cash network. BSV put a focus on scalability, in an attempt to fulfill the creator’s original vision of being the global payment network for everyone. BSV and BCH both maintain their respective communities, but never saw the same traction that Bitcoin has.
Bitcoin Lightning Network
The Bitcoin Lightning Network emerged in 2016 as a solution to scale the Bitcoin network, making payments cheaper and faster. As opposed to being a fork of Bitcoin like BCH and BSV, the Lightning Network serves as a layer-2, being built on top of Bitcoin’s infrastructure.
To date, Bitcoin’s Lightning Network has seen success. It is currently being utilized within El Salvador’s government-created wallet, as well as being used for tipping on online platforms like Substack.
Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC)
Instead of being a fork, Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) is directly tied to the price of Bitcoin and each WBTC represents one Bitcoin on the Ethereum network. Since blockchains cannot easily communicate with each other, this was a solution that was implemented to allow Bitcoin to be used in DeFi activities.
By having each WBTC be backed by a physical Bitcoin, users can own, trade and utilize WBTC in DeFi in the same way that they do with any other ERC-20 token. All while knowing they can redeem their WBTC to BTC 1:1 at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions
New Bitcoin are issued into the circulating supply every time a new block is added to the blockchain. However, the amount that is added to the supply is diminishing over time, per the schedule of the Bitcoin halving.
New Bitcoin issuance will stop once the total supply reaches 21 million tokens. Importantly, some tokens have been lost over time, with many people estimating there could now only be 18 million tokens total.
Generally, Bitcoin focuses on use cases that involve the transfer of value, like sending Bitcoin to a family member or making a purchase in Bitcoin. Ethereum was designed to run smart contracts, computer programs that live on the blockchain. Another notable difference is in how the two networks validate transactions. Bitcoin still uses proof of work, whereas the Ethereum network uses proof of stake.
Both Bitcoin Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens use inscriptions, a form of data storage on the Bitcoin blockchain, to bring new functionality to Bitcoin. Ordinals are much like NFTs you’d see on other networks like Ethereum. BRC-20 tokens are similar to ERC-20 tokens found on the Ethereum network, a way to bring value or additional functionality to crypto projects.