Introduction

If you’re paying attention, Bitcoin is everywhere. It’s in the news, it’s on television, it’s being talked about on the train, in cafes, and at the pub. But what is Bitcoin and why should you be paying attention?

Widely considered to be the king of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is a digital peer-to-peer currency that was initially created to subvert reliance on traditional banks. As of mid-June 2021 Bitcoin makes up nearly half of the US$1.58 trillion (A$2.07 trillion) market cap of cryptocurrencies currently available worldwide.

Bitcoin is not fiat currency, meaning it is not issued or regulated by a central bank like the federal reserve. This allows users to conduct transactions with anonymity, transparency, and without exchange rate fees.

Quick facts about Bitcoin 2021

Price

As of mid-June, the price of Bitcoin sits at around US$39,000 (A$51,500).
View the current Bitcoin price.

Market cap

As of mid-June, the market cap sits at more than US$725 billion (A$950 billion)

What is the BTC all-time high price?

On April 14, Bitcoin reached a new all-time high price of US$64,863.1 (A$85,032.93).

Highest trading volume day

336K BTC – 19/05/2021

Lowest trading volume day

20.8K BTC – 04/04/2021

Number of accounts

As of mid-June, there are 37.9 million Bitcoin wallet addresses with a balance according to ‘Blockchain.com‘.
There are 858.75 million Bitcoin wallet addresses in total.

Average transaction fee

The Bitcoin average transaction fee is 6.084 USD/tx (7.98 AUD) for Jun 16 2021.

Average amount of Bitcoin traded

As of mid-June there is an average of 225,274 Bitcoin transactions per day but limited information regarding the average amount per trade.

When was Bitcoin invented and who created it?

The domain name ‘Bitcoin.org’ was registered on 18 August 2008. Later that year on 31 October, a link to a document now termed ‘the white paper’ authored by pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto was posted to a cryptography mailing list. In this paper, Satoshi explained the methodology of using a peer-to-peer “system for electronic transactions without relying on trust”.

On 3 January 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto mined the genesis block of Bitcoin (block number 0) and sprung the network into existence. To this day, it is unknown as to who the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto is.

Who owns the most Bitcoin?

The mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto is currently atop the Bitcoin richest list with a whopping estimated fortune of $34.9 billion. In second and third spots respectively are Zhan Ketuan, the co-founder of Bitmain (est. net. $3,200,000,000) and Chris Larsen, co-founder of Ripple (est. net. $2,700,000,000).

Some famous names are also associated with Bitcoin.  Tesla mogul Elon Musk recently made headlines for his investment in the cryptocurrency, while the Winklevoss twins, famous for their contribution to Facebook, are also big players, amassing an estimated 700,000 bitcoins.

BTC price over time: 2009-2021

Bitcoin has existed for over a decade and its growth has been exponential. The first recorded price of Bitcoin was $0.00099 USD in 2009. In 2010 it peaked at $0.39. By 2011 the value was starting to increase, reaching $1.00, then $10 and spiking at $30.

However, by the end of the year, and into 2012, Bitcoin returned to trading between $0.50 and $5.00. 2013 saw massive growth, hitting $250 in April and a whopping $1,000 by the end of the year. 2014 saw a steady decline as a reaction to crypto exchange giant Mt. Gox  filing for bankruptcy. By mid-November prices had dropped to around $400.

Bitcoin saw a steady rise over 2015, peaking at $500 later in the year. Prices continued to steadily rise in 2016 falling just short of the $1000 mark by the end of the year. The following year saw a historical boom due to increasing market interest in crypto, causing Bitcoin prices to skyrocket to $19,000 by November. The following year saw a 73% drop following Google, Twitter and Facebook banning crypto ads on their platforms. Bitcoin finished the year at $3,693.

2019 was a turbulent year for Bitcoin, with highs of $13,880, however prices settled around $7000 by years end. Bitcoin rallied in 2020, with a jump to $10,000, before a rapid 185% climb to $29,000 by end of year. 2020 and 2021 also saw volatile fluctuations, before a massive spike saw Bitcoin record its highest price ever of over $60,000 USD in March, 2021.

BTC market cap over time

Bitcoin’s market capitalisation has increased dramatically since 2013. The market capitalisation sat at around one billion USD in 2013, before multiplying several times leading up to 2016. The market cap rose sharply between 2016 and 2017, landing at approximately $237.47 billion USD by December, 2017. A drop-off accord over 2018 and 2019, before beginning a rapid climb from October 2020 ($255 billion) to February 2021 ($841.43 billion).

Bitcoin’s market cap reached a record high of more than $1 trillion USD in May 2021.

Bitcoin vs traditional assets

Bitcoin is anything but traditional. The innovative cryptocurrency is changing all the rules of the investment game, but how does it stack up against traditional assets like stocks, bonds, and gold?

Unlike traditional assets, Bitcoin is not issued or managed by a central institution or government, and due to the fixed supply, once issuance stops it will technically be a deflationary asset. Investing in stocks is an investment in a company, whereas investing in crypto is an investment only in the product itself.

Bitcoin prices are influenced by many factors, including the market’s demand for it, the mining costs, competing cryptos, trading exchanges and regulating governments.

Bitcoin volatility over time

When looking day to day, bitcoin is one of the most volatile assets around, with 10% intra-day moves not uncommon.  When you zoom out, bitcoin has been running in 4 year cycles since 2009, each cycle being dwarfed by the one that follows.  Volatility is a necessary step on the path to price discovery.

What’s going on with Bitcoin in 2021?

2020 was a year of uncertainty due to the pandemic, travel restrictions, and lock downs, but heading into 2021, Bitcoin’s value consistently rose to cement it as the dominant market leader in cryptocurrency. Despite fluctuations in the market, the highest Bitcoin price ever was recently recorded at $65,065 USD in April, 2021.

Bitcoin in Australia

In Australia, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are legal to own, trade and invest in, although the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Tax Office do not classify it as legal tender.

A survey conducted by ‘Finder.com‘ in January 2021 found that 1 in 4 people invest or plan to invest in cryptocurrency. 1,004 people were surveyed making this 25% as a percentage or equivalent to 5 million digital currency investors when scaled.

In Australia cryptocurrency can be legally used for personal or businesses transactions.

Bitcoin mining in Australia

The term “Bitcoin mining” can be confusing to some.  Bitcoin is “mined” using computers connected to the cryptocurrency network in a process known as hashing. Miners conduct complex calculations and verify and record transactions between other Bitcoin users on blocks of data. Once a block is filled with information a new one is created and chained to its predecessor creating a blockchain, a decentralised public database which operates as a public ledger for all participants of the network.

Miners will often group together in mining pools to share computational resources and gather more data, however they also split the spoils (in varying splits depending on the pool).

While Bitcoin mining is legal in Australia, the increasing cost of hardware and power means that the profitability of mining doesn’t always outweigh the costs.

Bitcoin power consumption

According to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, cryptocurrencies are estimated to use approximately 127.48 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually, which equates to 0.51% of the global electricity production and 0.59% of total electricity consumption.

But despite jarring news headlines, the situation is more complex than “green or not green”. A popular fact amongst news outlets has been that Bitcoin’s energy output exceeds that of Argentina, but what isn’t mentioned is that the value of Bitcoin is worth more than double Argentina’s Gross Domestic Product.

It is important that energy usage be put in perspective. Don Whyper, COO of DigitalMint, has stated that the gold-mining industry uses approximately 131.9 TWh while the traditional banking system may use as much energy as 140 TWh.

The 2020 Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study has also reported that 39% of hashing’s total energy consumption comes from renewables, and that 76% of hashers use renewable energies as part of their energy mix.

What will Bitcoin be worth in 2030?

There is some disagreement amongst cryptocurrency experts regarding the future value of cryptocurrency due to the volatility of the industry, however by 2030 most of the available Bitcoin will have been mined somewhat lessening the economic effect of supply and demand.

Bitcoin investor Tyler Winklevoss has called bitcoin “gold 2.0” and estimates it could reach as high as $500,000 USD by 2030. Founder of Social Capital Chamath Palihapitiya predicts it could go even higher, estimating Bitcoin price to reach $1,000,000 by 2037.

However, a 2020 poll by Genesis Mining returned a range of predictions regarding the worth of Bitcoin in 2030. About 4% of pollsters believed Bitcoin would be worth more than $500,000 by 2030, while 5.5% felt the value would fall somewhere between $100,000 and $50,000. A further 18% felt the cryptocurrency’s value would reach above $50,000, while a little over 20% believed the value of the coin would fall below $5,000.

What will Bitcoin be worth in 2050?

Just like predictions in 2030, it depends who you are listening to and on many unforeseeable factors. Bitcoin’s future depends largely on whether or not governments embrace bitcoin as legitimate tender or whether they place legal strangleholds on it. Some investors are excited about Bitcoin’s long term prospects based on past data, trends and projections which suggest Bitcoin could reach prices as high as $10 million USD by 2050, while others remain sceptical.

How many Bitcoins are left?

There are over two million remaining Bitcoins (2,288,018, at time of writing). There are currently 18,711,981 Bitcoins in circulation and a total cap of 21 million that can be mined. This number increases by 6.25 Bitcoins every ten minutes when new blocks are mined.

What happened to Bitcoin in 2015?

Bitcoin value exploded between 2013 and 2017.

Bitcoin’s lowest price in 2015 was recorded in January at $177.28 USD ($217.22 AUD). Over a 12 month period there was exponential growth leading to the peak price of $465.50 USD ($646.58 AUD) by December 15, 2015.

What happened to Bitcoin in 2016?

Bitcoin’s lowest price in 2016 was recorded in January at $358.77 USD ($522.94 AUD), although a mid-year spike in June saw the price soar to $768.24 USD ($990.97 AUD). By December 28, the highest price reached $978.01 USD ($1,361.68 AUD). Experts believe Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) drove much of the demand.

What happened to Bitcoin in 2017?

Bitcoin’s lowest price in 2017 was recorded in January at $775.98 USD (AUD $1,042.84)  while its peak price of $19,343.04 USD ($25,304.56 AUD) was reached on December 16, 2017.

What happened to Bitcoin in 2018?

In 2018, Bitcoin’s highest price was recorded on January 6 at $17,135.84 USD (AUD $21,795.07). However, throughout the year the value started on a downward trajectory, bottoming out on December 15 at $3,703.80 USD ($5,119.39 AUD).

What happened to Bitcoin in 2019?

The low prices continued into early 2019, with the lowest price of  $3,383.67 USD ($4,761.16 AUD) being recorded on February 6. However, Bitcoin prices rallied at the end of April reaching a peak of $12,907.14 USD ($8,472.70 AUD) by June 26.

What happened to Bitcoin in 2020?

Bitcoin prices rose steadily throughout early 2020, from $7,000  to $10,000 USD before crashing to a low of $3,850 due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the price surged from September, reaching the dizzying price of $29,000 USD ($37,295.22 AUD) by the end of the year.

Conclusion

Bitcoin has dominated the cryptocurrency game for over a decade and while operating in an innovative and volatile market, it continues to break records and set trends. While difficult to predict the future of crypto due to social, environmental, economic and governmental factors, Bitcoin has continued to surprise day traders, investors and the average Joe and may continue to do so for decades to come.

References

https://www.investopedia.com/tech/what-determines-value-1-bitcoin/
https://bitcoin.com.au/btc-stats/
https://libertex.com/blog/bitcoin-price-forecasts
https://www.statista.com/statistics/377382/bitcoin-market-capitalization/
https://coinnounce.com/bitcoin-price-prediction-2020-2025-2030-2050-2019-2018-2017/
https://bitinfocharts.com/comparison/bitcoin-marketcap.html
https://businesscloud.co.uk/the-crypto-rich-list-who-are-the-worlds-richest-people-in-cryptocurrency/
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/apr/23/australian-man-craig-wrights-claim-he-invented-bitcoin-to-be-considered-by-uk-court
https://bitcoin.com.au/what-is-bitcoin/
https://data.bitcoinity.org/markets/volume/6m?r=day&t=b
https://ycharts.com/indicators/bitcoin_average_transaction_fee#:~:text=Bitcoin%20Average%20Transaction%20Fee%20is,K%25%20from%20one%20year%20ago .
https://www.blockchain.com/explorer/
https://www.blockchain.com/charts/n-transactions