NASDAQ has completed its first trade via Linq, and Segregated Witness has been deployed on a Bitcoin testnet. Here are the cryptocurrency highlights for the start of 2016:
- NASDAQ has completed its first transfer of privately held shares via its blockchain-based trading platform Linq. The trade concerned the issuance of privately held shares from blockchain developer Chain to an unidentified private party. NASDAQ CEO Bob Greifeld stated that the trade marked the start of a process that could be nothing short of revolutionary for the global financial sector, as it provides both cheaper and faster transactions, while removing the need for middlemen such as clearing houses. With online retailer Overstock.com recently receiving approval to issue public shares via blockchain technology, it’s only a matter of time before the next milestone is reached.
- Segregated Witness, a new idea that was presented by Blockstream co-founder Pieter Wuille at the second Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Hong Kong, has been deployed on a special testnet for Bitcoin. The testnet, dubbed SegNet, will allow Bitcoin Core developers to experiment with the new idea that mainly fixes transaction malleability. It does so by removing signatures from a transaction and moving them into a separate data structure. Coveniently, this also frees up the space these signatures are using on the blockchain, reducing transaction size by an estimated 60%.
- After launching in September 2015 and getting 42 of the world’s leading banks to sign up for its initiative, the R3 project is now looking for “talented, motivated professionals to turn the R3 vision into a reality”. There are several open positions for developers, designers and architects needed by R3 to “develop commercial applications and to establish consistent standards and protocols for distributed ledger technology across the financial industry”.
- As the world entered 2016, Bitcoin officially became the best performing currency of 2015. Over the whole year, the value of Bitcoin increased by 35%. The performance was mainly driven by a late rally in the final quarter of the year, that pushed the price to around $429 per coin. Just the year before, Bitcoin was the worst performing currency with a loss of 56% for all of 2014. In 2013 the value of Bitcoin even increased by 5,429%, making it the top performer of that year as well. Even though these moves are all extreme, they do show a stabilizing trend over time.
- The price over Bitcoin managed to gain another 5% since the start of the year, increasing roughly $21 to the current exchange of about $450 per coin. The latest rally appears to be largely fueled by China, which decided to depreciate the Chinese yuan. The latter makes holding alternative currencies such a lot more attractive for the Chinese people. As FX trading was also suspended for some banks, it left Bitcoin as one of the few remaining options for those looking for a safe haven. Concerns over China also fueled a global stock market crash in the opening week of 2016, causing almost $2.5 in market value to evaporate worldwide.