Bitcoin news roundup: May 21 2017

Illustration depicting the global adoption and growth of bitcoin

Thanks for joining us for this edition of our bitcoin news roundup, where we’ve got headlines on the recent $2,000+ bitcoin price surge, notable recent and upcoming block chain industry events, and valuable takeaways from the WannaCry attacks. Read on to find out more!

Bitcoin’s price continues its rally to $2,000 & beyond

1 bitcoin, pictured as a physical coin, sits above a diagonal upwards arrow to demonstrate the bitcoin price surge
Source: BitcoinMagazine.com

Speculation for this year in bitcoin has included reaching consensus on a solid scaling solution, as well as growing global interest from consumers, banks, and governments. And we can’t forget the buzz about the bitcoin price, which included predictions from $2,000 to $3,000 by the end of the year. Well, the price has indeed soared to $2,000, and beyond, at a rate some say is unhealthy and may be indicative of a bubble.

Is a price correction approaching? Price analyst, Josh Olszewicz, draws similarities between recent trends and the rally and bubble of late 2013. Olszewicz admits that historical trends don’t dictate the future, but certain markers may give us clues about what may happen next. Boom and busts expert, Vikram Mansharamani, concluded a bubble was unlikely during the rally in early March. With digital assets in constant flux, Mansharamani’s method can be used at any time to get a sense for the state of the market.

Reasons behind the bitcoin price surge

Industry enthusiasts are sharing their take on the recent bitcoin price surge, with Japan’s growing adoption and April 1st legalization identified as one of the most marked explanations for growth. Olivia Tierney of Seeking Alpha explains how Japan has surpassed China to become “the World’s Largest Bitcoin Market.” Since bitcoin became a legal method of payment in Japan, she cites that its market value has risen by 80%.

Innovative industries have a long history of being stifled by overbearing regulation, with Japan having its own complicated tug of war between innovation and regulation. But in bitcoin’s instance, the timing of Japan’s market activity surge seems to indicate that the regulatory policies may be giving bitcoin the legitimacy it needs to gain the trust of Japanese retail traders.

The altcoin market may also be another supporting price driver. Bitcoin is the leading digital asset of its kind, and consequently, it is also common practice to use it for purchasing altcoins. As altcoins like litecoin, which saw the activation of Segregated Witness earlier this month, garner more interest, bitcoin network activity may also be seeing a resulting jump from users buying bitcoin as a means to purchase altcoins.

Prague a growing hub for block chain innovation; the third annual Consensus

Attendees of the third annual Bitcoin and Blockchain Conference Prague connected recently in the Czech Republic capital. Notable figures across many industries voiced their ideas on the application of block chain technology in fields like healthcare, government and banking, with a focus on Czech and European innovation. A short time before the conference, big news hit that European e-retailer Alza announced it has started accepting bitcoin as payment due to customer demand. Alza is the largest online retailer in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Numbers for notable stats at Consensus event including speakers, sponsors, attendees, etc.
Source: CoinDesk.com

Following the recent conference in Prague is CoinDesk’s annual block chain technology summit,  Consensus, held in NYC this week. On day two of the event, our CEO Peter Smith joins ShapeShift CEO, Erik Voorhees, to discuss the strong and emerging digital assets markets, and what the future has in store for block chain technology.

New, improved address format proposed; is optimized for SegWit

Roadblocks both big and small present a collection of challenges when it comes to optimizing bitcoin for mainstream adoption. One particular roadblock relates to the not-so-user friendly format for bitcoin addresses themselves. And earlier this month, news was released on Bech32, a project co-developed by Bitcoin Core developer Pieter Wuille and Blockstream CTO Greg Maxwell. The project is an effort to improve the usability of bitcoin addresses and optimize address compatibility with SegWit, if and when it is activated.

Valuable lessons to take away from the WannaCry attacks

On a not so positive note, malware recently infected PCs around the world late last week. The malicious code, which holds a computer’s data hostage until a ransom of $300 is paid, seemed to primarily target PCs running Windows 7.

Malware of this nature has existed long before digital assets like bitcoin. Where things like speed and verification are concerned, bitcoin does rival other forms of payment, but it is in no way superior for maintaining anonymity. More importantly, bitcoin is also uniquely traceable and transparent. In fact, an article on Kaspersky Lab’s Securelist explains that it’s “unlikely the attackers will be able to do anything with the bitcoins.” The personal identities of the parties involved are not revealed on the block chain, but the movement of funds can be traced. Once the stolen bitcoins are actually used to make a purchase, or sold for fiat on an exchange, the perpetrators become exponentially easier to identify.

Whether attackers requested bitcoin or another form of payment from victims isn’t what’s important. The mitigation of malware attacks for any online user requires a preventative approach to optimize online privacy, computer security, and data recovery.

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