Culture Shock: Bitcoin a Part of All Walks of Life in 2017
2017 will go down as the biggest year in Bitcoin’s history - with meteoric highs paving the way for the preeminent cryptocurrency bursting into mainstream consciousness.
December will forever be remembered for Bitcoin’s massive price correction after hitting the $20,000 milestone, but a lot happened in the lead up to the climactic end of the year.
Rewind to January 2017. Bitcoin had just broken through the $1,000 barrier and the talk among crypto enthusiasts was that the virtual currency was set for a bullish year. It’s fair to say that no one anticipated an eventual 2,000 percent growth before the market correction, but the statistics will tell a different story.
A quick glance at Google Trend’s analytic graph shows that interest in Bitcoin had a small peak in May, while it really started to garner interest worldwide around the time that SegWit2x was postponed and the Bitcoin bull run began.
It was, however, the second most searched news term globally in 2017, while it came up third in the often hilarious ‘how to’ search category.
Interestingly enough, the countries where Bitcoin was most often searched were not massive first world economies, but growing ones. South Africa topped the list, followed by Slovenia, Nigeria, Ghana then Australia.
Occupying top spots in Google’s search trends is no mean feat. It tells us that people were searching hard for information on Bitcoin, whether it was for the latest price updates or how to setup a Bitcoin wallet.
Bitcoin also occupied the number one spot for the most searched term on Investopedia - the world’s go-to encyclopedia for financial and economic terms and information.
Miners delight - cards in demand
As interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies grew, the average PC gamer and overclocking enthusiast saw their chance to get in on the action by using their hardware to support the world’s mining operations.
Mining enthusiasts wasted no time getting in on the action which quickly led to a massive surge in demand for graphics cards - which are needed to solve the cryptographic puzzles that are used to validate transactions on cryptocurrency Blockchains.
Just half-way through 2017, graphics card manufacturers AMD struggled to keep up with the demand for cards.
Rivals Nvidia boasted superior stock prices this year and the adoption of Blockchain technologies by the likes of Uber and Airbnb led analysts to predict even greater growth as both chip manufacturers hold the key - hardware.
Nvidia’s stock price even mimicked Bitcoin price for the better part of the year - although the company was uncertain of its future in the market amid regulatory changes in China, which accounts for a large contingent of the world’s mining operations. Proposals were made to manufacture mining specific chips to protect the company from constantly changing consumer needs.
Bitcoin gets celebrity approval
Along with its newfound notoriety, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies also got a celebrity stamp of approval in 2017.
Boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather grabbed headlines on numerous occasions, as he stepped in to promote a number of ICOs using the Ethereum Blockchain.
Football giant Leo Messi also joined the fray in an endorsement deal with Sirin Labs, which creates hardware to support Blockchain technology.
The list literally goes on and there are some surprising names here. Top of the list is rapper Snoop Dogg, alongside actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher.
Luxury items for sale
As Bitcoin boomed, more people looked to take advantage of the appreciation in value which saw some luxury items, from mansions to custom cars, go on sale - not in dollars, but in Bitcoin.
For the right price, people could get their hands on a golden Rolls Royce, a Caribbean island, an upmarket flat in England’s famous Notting Hill, or a mansion in Miami.
Trying to keep up
The explosion of interest in Bitcoin was a boon to the market but it also proved to be a massive stress test for exchanges, their servers, infrastructure and payment systems.
From November onwards, major exchanges like Coinbase, Gemini, Bitfinex and others had to upgrade their systems to meet the massive influx of new users trying to open up wallets on their exchanges.
This caused a major headache for many users due to the slow transaction speed. However, without the massive increase in volume, many of these exchanges may not have upgraded their systems - which is crucial in the development of more efficient exchanges.
The ever-growing interest in Bitcoin inevitably led to the subject being covered more extensively by mainstream news outlets. The likes of CBNC, Fortune, Bloomberg, CNN and Fox to name but a few ramped up coverage on the subject.
Every other day, these media giants hosted financial analysts, cryptocurrency experts, Blockchain engineers, basically anyone with a wealth of knowledge on the subject to help inform opinion.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin was the second-most searched news term on Google - feeding traffic to these websites and their various interviews.
Financial experts like billionaire hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz and renowned stock analyst Ronnie Moas led the way in terms of price predictions. Meanwhile, traditional financial institutions like JP Morgan, Bank of France, Coutts Bank were staunchly opposed to cryptocurrency adoption - as was reported by numerous mainstream news outlets.
If 2017 was anything to go by, we are in for a bumper new year. The cryptocurrency market valuation is bound to be top of the list, but constant advances in Blockchain tech and new offerings should see crypto garner more media interest in 2018.