Bitcoin has been around for a few years now, but only recently has it unlocked its potential – or so it seems. The famous project that started off as a manifesto of freedom from government control when the developer (or developers) under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto put forward the radical proposal of a decentralized digital currency in 2009, has in recent years gained unbelievable momentum. It has been used to help protect IoT devices, while the blockchain technology that powers it has found its way to other applications. Drawing in investors from all walks of life, Bitcoin became a serious contender in global markets and even a staple in pop culture. But as new cryptocurrencies like Ethereum keep evolving, could Bitcoin’s reign be over within 2018?
The Digital Feat of Bitcoin
According to the short history of Bitcoin by Forbes, in the years since 1998 up until Bitcoin’s open source code was released to the public in 2009, various attempts at digital currencies like Bit Gold and B-Money had been made, but none were as developed or as successful as Bitcoin. Since it launched, Bitcoin has largely remained a favorite of online transactions, with limited applications in the real-world economy – although according to Forbes, someone did decide to use 10,000 of their Bitcoin in 2010 to buy two pizzas, giving away what would rise to a value of roughly $100 million today. As Betway Casino’s list of Bitcoin pros and cons suggests, the cryptocurrency is widely preferred in digital transactions for its transaction speed, lack of fees and anonymity, among others. As the New York Times have reported, in 2017 alone Bitcoin’s value rose from $830 to $19,300, at several points surpassing the value of gold. However, in the same year, Ether, one of Bitcoin’s main rival cryptocurrencies, saw a spike from under $10 to $715 – and has since surged past $1000.
Ether Dominates in Metrics and Shows Potential to Surpass Bitcoin
This incredible performance has sparked a conversation among cryptocurrency aficionados: Is 2018 the year when finally Ether will surpass Bitcoin and establish itself as the main representative of the cryptocurrency movement? It is beyond doubt that Bitcoin has performed really well during the final stretch of 2017, but it continues to draw criticism for its volatility and unpredictability. Ethereum is more low-key and as such has kept a steady pace. Last April it established itself firmly in second place with a market cap of $49 billion, behind Bitcoin’s $133.3 billion and firmly ahead of Ripple’s $24.7 billion. The Ethereum platform uses the cryptocurrency to facilitate mainly apps and smart contracts that are powered by blockchain technology – and is the favorite platform among the top 100 tokens used in smart contract applications. Despite Bitcoin’s buzz, Ether fares better in statistics: on January 4th, Ethereum saw more than 1,300,000 transactions take place on its platform within 24 hours. By contrast, Bitcoin’s network processed a maximum of around 500,000 transactions per day.
Smart Contracts Applications Fuel Ether’s Slow but Steady Rise
Due to its synergistic nature because of its focus on smart contracts applications, Ether is demonstrating a steadier grip when its value rises. Each new project that is added to the Ethereum network serves to increase its value and this makes investors hopeful that its upward trend will continue. Companies of the likes of Microsoft, Intel and JPMorgan Chase have supported Ether, while it has another thing working in its favor: its supply cap. Bitcoin can only be mined until the number of 21 million units is reached; in June 2017, Ether had already reached 90 million tokens. This potential for indefinite supply, which mirrors the way fiat currencies work, could work in Ether’s benefit – depending also on which way its developers decide to go. Ethereum also seems to be battling the technical side of blockchain better, and it is doing better than Bitcoin in terms of innovation and other metrics, which makes some experts hopeful that 2018 will be Ether’s year.
Whether or not Ether will dethrone Bitcoin in 2018, it remains to be seen – although its favorable trends suggest so. One thing remains certain, however: Cryptocurrencies of all sorts, with Bitcoin and Ether leading the pack, have firmly established themselves as a financial product that needs to be taken seriously.