Winter! Congratulations on making it this far.
For the fourth and final entry in our year-end review-cum-listicle experience, we’re looking at September through December, which saw institutional investors flooding into Bitcoin, propelling the price to new all-time highs. Meanwhile, Ethereum 2.0 launched, and digital artist Beeple became the doyen of the crypto art world, raising $3.5 million in a series of NFT sales.
PayPal Gets into the Game
PayPal announced in October that it would soon begin accepting cryptocurrencies, and enabling crypto transactions for all of its merchants. Its crypto service went live in the US in November, though it comes with some pretty significant caveats.
The most glaring of these is that crypto is never actually exchanged between the buyer and the merchant. PayPal actually converts your crypto to fiat at the moment it’s transacted, which is what the merchant ends up receiving.
Also, you can only pay for things with crypto you’ve bought within the app, and can’t transfer your coins out to other wallets. Still—this was a big moment, with potential long-term consequences for crypto adoption.
Institutional Investments Pile Up
Michael Saylor’s tech company MicroStrategy, which invested $250 million in Bitcoin in August, poured another $175 into the asset in September, and $50 million more in December.
Square, led by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (a longtime Bitcoin proponent), invested $50 million in Bitcoin in October. And MassMutual dropped $100 million on Bitcoin through NYDIG, a prominent crypto shop.
Wall Street Influencers Cheer
Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, erstwhile Soros money manager Stanley Druckenmiller, Paul Tudor Jones, and Mike Novogratz were among crypto’s wealthiest proponents this year; the number of bullish comments they made felt roughly proportional to the success of Bitcoin, which may explain why they all spoke out this fall.
Bitcoin Takes Off
Bitcoin, which started the year at around $7,000, had by the end of October reached the high $13,000s. By the end of November, it had broken its previous all-time high of $19,783.
While some traders have worried about the possibility of a bubble, or a crash like the one that followed Bitcoin’s previous all-time high, analysts have said that the market looks much stronger this time around.
Potential contributing factors include COVID-induced fiscal stimulus, which saw central banks turn on the "money printer", as well as those large institutional investments from the likes of MicroStrategy and Square.
That the pandemic has deemphasized physical cash in favor of digital payments has been another boon for crypto—fuel for the fire of Bitcoin’s 2020 bull run.
Ethereum 2.0 Launches
Ethereum’s 2.0 upgrade launched in December after much ado, marking the first stage in the system’s transition to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, from proof-of-work.
We’re still a long way from what Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin sees as his ultimate vision for the upgrade, but it’s an important start.
Steve Wozniak Takes a Bite of the Crypto Apple
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has long been an advocate of cryptocurrency, and in December he joined the fray in earnest. Together with Efforce, an environmental crypto-investment platform that he co-founded in 2019, Wozniak launched a new crypto token, WOZX.
Efforce's stated aim is to enable people to invest in energy efficiency projects by "acquiring tokenized future savings."
Driven in part by name recognition, WOZX promptly shot up in value to highs of $2.77, before settling back to its current price of around $1.60.
Bitcoin Goes to Washington
Joe Biden defeated the incumbent Donald Trump in one of the most consequential presidential elections in the modern history of the US. It gave the majority of Americans what they wanted four years ago, even as Democrats performed somewhat worse than expected down-ballot.
Biden has already said he’s tapping Gary Gensler, a Bitcoin-minded ex-Goldman executive and progressive regulator, to handle Wall Street oversight. It’s a sign that the incoming administration could clear the (low) bar set by Trump in the realm of crypto legislation.
Digital Artist Beeple Makes $3.5 Million on NFTs
Beeple, a digital artist, capitalized on percolating public fascination with NFTs in a massive multi-day art sale that raised $3.5 million. He made almost $600,000 of that in the first five minutes, and, later, $777,777 on a single NFT.
Bitcoin Soars Past $20,000
Bitcoin smashed through $20,000 earlier this month, for the first time ever. And then $21,000, and $22,000, and $23,000, and $24,000, and...$28,000, in an astonishing bull run.
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