For several years, Bitcoin was a topic on the fringes of tech and finance discussions. It was a cool idea – a decentralized digital currency that exists entirely online – but not exactly a game changer by most estimations. Early predictions that Bitcoin would supplant ordinary currency still seem entirely overblown, and you still don’t come across many opportunities to use digital currency as you go about your day-to-day life.
Even so, however, 2017 has seen a significant uptick in the amount of discussion revolving around the digital currency. In particular, we’re beginning to see quite a bit of talk about Bitcoin as an investment (rather than a currency).
First and perhaps most importantly, people have been told that Bitcoin is meant for investment rather than spending. It was late in 2015, actually, that the idea that Bitcoin is officially a commodity took hold thanks to a designation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As far as the average consumer is concerned, this designation had little practical impact. But it spawned a lot of headlines and more or less opened the floodgates to consideration of Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) as commodities or investment assets rather than as currency alternatives.
Somewhat counter to the thinking of Bitcoin as a commodity, however, we’ve also seen usage expand to some extent. Most notably, Japan has become a major player in the Bitcoin market where it previously had some restrictions on cryptocurrency. But even in smaller arenas there has been significant growth. Internet gaming, for instance, has gotten on board, potentially roping in millions of online Bitcoin users. NetBet has been cited as starting a payment revolution by allowing Bitcoin deposits for its casino games online. These kinds of developments simply provide people more opportunities to use Bitcoin – which increases demand, which in turn is good for investors.
Supporting that idea of increased demand is the fact that we’ve also seen Bitcoin’s price balloon in a major way throughout the year. Topping $4,000 at times (after starting the year right around $1,000), Bitcoin was actually the top performing cryptocurrency over a recent time span. That’s fairly significant given that some believed Altcoins, which operate at smaller values, had more room to grow after Bitcoin initially surged ahead. This indicates that whether for use or investment, Bitcoin is being valued very highly in the market. And that certainly catches the eye of those who are considering investment in the future.
And then of course there’s general familiarity, which is probably playing a role as well. For the most part, it’s changed perspective, increasing usage opportunity, and soaring prices that are making Bitcoin a hotter topic in investing. But it may also be that people are simply getting more used to the cryptocurrency sticking around, and beginning to seriously consider what, if anything, to do with it.