Cryptocurrency is the new face of the global financial ecosystem, with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin fast becoming the standard transactional forms across enterprises. Cryptocurrency is underpinned by the highly evolved blockchain technology of distributed and secure ledger entries that guarantee error-free transactions. However, bitcoin’s fundamental design incorporates a complex data mining process requiring additional mathematical models and algorithms to validate transactions within the bitcoin blockchain, thereby leading to heavy consumption of computational power. This could very well act as a roadblock to the adoption of bitcoin and push people to choose cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum (that is more energy efficient) and Ripple (that doesn’t require mining).
Then again, bitcoin has been criticized by many for its relatively slow performance. Bitcoin requires about 10 odd minutes for creating a single block and has the capability to manage roughly seven transactions per second (TPS). Ethereum scores about 20 TPS and Ripple about 1,500 TPS, making these the obvious and most impressive choice over bitcoin. A third factor is also coming into play. Bitcoin did initially promise a total bypass of the centralized system to facilitate peer-to-peer value exchanges using digital cryptocurrency. However, the volatile prices of bitcoin and delays in completing time-sensitive transactions has resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of transactions incorporating bitcoin. Suffice to say that bitcoin as a reliable cryptocurrency may soon lose its market value, bursting the bubble that rose to great heights towards the close of 2017.
Cybercrime to Threaten Cryptocurrency Market Growth; Social Media May Resolve Concerns of Legitimacy
Ever since cryptocurrency became an acceptable medium of digital asset exchange, the cryptocurrency market has been severely hit by rising instances of cybercrime, threatening the very legitimacy of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. The cryptocurrency market has been facing increasing incidences of fraud on legitimate transactional activities. A number of cases of money laundering through fake accounts created using stolen and forged identities; and hacking of legitimate accounts to transfer payments for fraudulent transactions have come to the fore in the cryptocurrency market. Enterprises need to harness the power of advanced cyber threat intelligence to detect dubious online behavior and prevent and mitigate cyber theft in the cryptocurrency market before it affects end users through data breach or loss of money.
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Social media and online messaging networks may provide some relief to this problem of legitimizing the value of cryptocurrencies. Social media networks have started incorporating cryptocurrency as a legitimate and viable transaction medium, in keeping with a non-conventional approach to boost revenue and product outreach. Social networking strategies rest on the notional paradigm that cryptocurrency is capable of creating self-reliant economies that may one day render traditional advertising and value-based services obsolete. With social media giant Facebook planning to launch its own cryptocurrency, and cloud-based instant messaging service provider Telegram exploring the deployment of a multi-blockchain payment gateway, the future growth trajectory of the cryptocurrency market may well ride upon the solid blockchain architectures incorporated by social networking and private messaging channels.
Regulatory Mandates to Define Private Sector Investments Across the Regional Cryptocurrency Landscape
With cryptocurrency fast gaining ground across the globe, the need for strict regulations governing the use of cryptocurrencies is more relevant today, given the enormous investment risks associated with digital currencies. The United States has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency adoption; however the cryptocurrency landscape in the United States is more fragmented with each state defining individual laws and regulations governing the use of digital currency. States with clear and well-defined rules will most likely benefit from advancements in blockchain technology and witness increase in investments in cryptocurrency – thereby pushing other states to strengthen their cryptocurrency regulations.
Licensing mandates defined by individual states in the U.S may threaten non-American investors and cryptocurrency licensing will predominantly depend on how the U.S treats cryptocurrencies. If treated as a currency, federal regulations will undoubtedly take precedence over individual state licensing rules. If treated as securities, companies offering cryptocurrency products – especially Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) – will need to adhere to the Blue Sky Laws (individual state security laws enforced to protect investors from fraudulent activities) and register their product offerings prior to any sale in the cryptocurrency market. The cryptocurrency market scenario in the European Union appears positive with both the U.K and the European Union united in their plans to enforce cryptocurrency regulations – Brexit notwithstanding. Regulatory plans are on the anvil to create a more secure environment for cryptocurrency trading, with a view to protect investors from risks arising out of price volatility, operational issues, security lapses, and pecuniary losses.
The Asia Pacific region is fast evolving into a major hub for digital trading and cryptocurrency. Countries such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand are gradually embracing the concept of cryptocurrency trading and adopting blockchain technology. The right regulations will create a more positive environment for the cryptocurrency market to flourish across these countries. A recent development in the cryptocurrency market has been the adoption of virtual currencies by the Middle East. With cryptocurrency trading now officially declared Sharia compatible, countries of the Middle East including Dubai and Saudi Arabia are becoming active contributors to revenue growth of the cryptocurrency market in the Middle East.
Segmentation of the Cryptocurrency Market
The global market for cryptocurrency can be broadly classified as under:
- By Component
- Exchange Platform
- Mining Platform
- Application-specific Integrated Circuit Chips (ASIC)
- Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
- Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA)
- By Type
- By End Use
- E-Commerce and Retail
- Peer-To-Peer Payment
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Cryptocurrency Market Highly Lucrative for Existing Players as well as New Entrants; Bitcoin Mining May Turn into an Oligopolistic Market in Future
The global cryptocurrency market is growing by the day and lucrative opportunities are just around the horizon for companies dealing in virtual currencies. While the question of whether bitcoin will continue to dominate the cryptocurrency market is still debatable, bitcoin mining may well create a niche and make the cryptocurrency market an oligopoly. Some of the top companies currently doing business in the global cryptocurrency market include Microsoft Corporation, IBM Corporation, Coinbase, Digital Limited, Bitstamp Ltd., Bitfury Group Limited, Coinsecure, Unocoin, Global Area Holding Inc., Poloniex Inc., Bitfinex, BTL Group Ltd., and Zeb IT Service Pvt. Ltd.