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Facebook's new cryptocurrency, libra, is being heralded as the moment that cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the technology that supports them, become truly mainstream. A notable rise in the price of bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies in the run up to the libra announcement on June 18, and since, suggests a market directly responding to this possibility and bolstered by it.
Of course, the price of bitcoin is known to rise and fall sharply on a fairly regular basis. Yet there is no doubt that having one of the world's largest and most influential corporations throwing its weight behind the technology will calm nerves and build confidence.
Legitimacy - Idea - Cryptocurrencies - Blockchain - Research
More importantly, it gives legitimacy to the idea that cryptocurrencies and blockchain are here to stay. And, as I have argued in my research, must be taken seriously, not least by regulators.
In the same moment the world is introduced to libra, tensions between the United States and Iran continue to grow, with President Donald Trump increasing US sanctions against Iran. The two are not directly connected, but libra (or other cryptocurrencies) could offer Iran a route round its sanctions. This, of course, is not something Facebook intends—but Iran's interest in cryptocurrencies could have a serious influence on libra's future.
Forms - Bitcoin - Blockchain - Years - Time
In their contemporary forms, bitcoin and blockchain have been around for roughly ten years. In this time cryptocurrencies have proliferated wildly. According to the cryptocurrency platform, CoinMarketCap, there are now at least 2,248 different kinds of tokens. Many of these are actively and enthusiastically exchanged and traded by a growing number of people.
The recent history of cryptocurrencies, and bitcoin specifically, has not been all that positive. Famously, in 2013, the illicit darknet marketplace Silk Road was shut down following an FBI investigation. The site's founder, Ross Ulbricht, was imprisoned for life. Silk Road users relied heavily on bitcoin to...
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