Bitcoin shot past $US11,000 to hit a record high last month after gaining more than $US1000 in a short twelve-hour window. This has again raised concerns that a fast swelling bubble may be set to burst into spectacular fashion.
Here are some facts that you might not know about the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency.
1. How many are there?
Bitcoin’s supply is limited to 21 million – a number which is expected to be reached around the year 2140. Thus far, around 16.7 million bitcoins are released into the machine, with 12.5 new ones published roughly every 10 minutes with a process known as “mining”, where a worldwide network of computers competes to address complicated algorithms in reward for the new bitcoins.
2. Energy drain
These mining machines require a vast amount of energy to run. A recent quote by tech news website Motherboard place the energy cost of one bitcoin trade at 215 kilowatt-hours, presuming that there are approximately 300,000 bitcoin trades every day. That is nearly enough energy as the typical American household consumes in an entire week.
3. Bits of bitcoin
The smallest Bitcoin unit is known as a Satoshi, named after it’s elusive creator of the cryptocurrency, Satoshi Nakamoto. One Satoshi is 1 hundred-millionth of a bitcoin, which makes it worth around $US0.0001 at current exchange rates.
4. Bitcoin billionaires
Bitcoin has performed better than each central-bank-issued currency in each year from 2011 except for 2014, when it performed worse than any conventional currency. So much in 2017, it’s up around 1000 percent. In case you had purchased $US1000 of bitcoin at the beginning of 2013 and had never sold any of it, you’d now be sitting on $US80 million. Lots of individuals believe bitcoin to be more of a speculative instrument compared to a money, due to its volatility, increasingly substantial transaction fees, and the fact that comparatively few retailers accept it.
5. Exchange heists
More than 980,000 bitcoins have been discharged from cryptocurrency exchanges since it was first formed, either by hackers or insiders. That is a total of over $US10 billion at current exchange rates. Few have been regained.
6. Mystery creator
Despite many efforts to find the founder of bitcoin, and a number of claims, we still don’t know who Satoshi Nakamoto is, or has been. Australian computer scientist and entrepreneur Craig Wright convinced some notable members of this bitcoin community that he had met Nakamoto in May last year, but he then refused to offer the evidence that the majority of the community said was necessary. It’s not clear whether Satoshi Nakamoto, supposed to be a pseudonym, was a title used by a set of programmers or by one person. Nor is it clear that Nakamoto is still living – the overdue computer scientist Hal Finney’s title may be put forward. Developer Nick Szabo has denied claims that he’s Nakamoto, as has tech entrepreneur Elon Musk more lately.
7. Inflated Chinese trading
Until this season, it had been thought that Chinese exchanges Accounted for about 90 percent of trading volume. But it is now clear that some trades inflated their volumes through so-called wash transactions, repeatedly trading minimal amounts of bitcoin back and forth between accounts. Since the Chinese government imposed trade fees, Chinese trading volumes have dropped sharply, and now represent less than 20 percent, according to data from site Bitcoinity.
8. Market cap
The total value of all bitcoins released into the machine so far has now reached as large as $US190 billion. That makes its whole value – sometimes dubbed its “market cap” – higher than that of Disney, and larger than the market cap of BlackRock and Goldman Sachs combined.
Bitcoin is far from the sole cryptocurrency. There are now more than 1000 rivals, based on commerce website Coinmarketcap.