Bitcoin round-up: price jumps, Greek banks feel the strain - is there a connection?

We haven't mentioned price for a while, which is a good sign where all things bitcoin are concerned. Since the beginning of the year the price of bitcoin has been range-bound between $200 and $300, and from April/May this year hovering around $230.

For bitcoin to catch on as a currency that people use to buy goods and services, it needs price stability and that's undoubtedly what we have seen for several months, but does this signify a bottom in the downward trend of the price since its high back in December 2013?

Price action of the past week or so could signal a reversal in that trend with a breakout to the upside. In common with other asset markets, price movements can often be explained as a combination of buying and selling fundamentals, market news flow, technicals and the psychological.

The recent spike in price, temporarily breaching the $250 mark, has set the tongues of market followers wagging. Is it indicative of a bottom being formed after months of treading water in a bearish market in which trader 'selling fatigue' has perhaps become evident? Or is it the psychological impact of the prospect of capital controls being imposed in Greece? Take your pick.

As yet there is no concrete evidence - certainly no rise in Greek buyers - that explains recent price appreciation but perhaps it's all in the mind; fear of Grexit stokes fears about paper currencies, making non-fiat alternatives appear more attractive.

In 2012-13 we witnessed a dress rehearsal of what might be unfolding in Greece. Back then it was the financial meltdown in Cyprus that was cited as being at least partly responsible for the violent upswing in the bitcoin price then.

If the rumours of capital controls being imposed in Greece turn out to be true and the price of bitcoin rockets, then maybe we could take that as evidence that those with cash are using bitcoin to get it out of the country.

NEW YORK NOW HAS A BITCOIN LICENCE

New York State announced at the beginning of June the adoption of a regulatory regime for bitcoin, with a new 'bitlicense' as its foundation. All bitcoin exchanges with customer deposits will have to hold the licence; to keep it they will have to comply with various reporting regulations on consumer protection, money laundering and capital adequacy.

The regulations are not as light-touch as those being put in place by the UK government but the regulations have been tweaked to address some of the concerns made in representations from market participants about the potentially burdensome nature of previous proposals.

Benjamin Lawsky, the outgoing New York superintendent of financial services, said the rules aimed to 'protect consumers and root out illicit activity'.

However, spokesman John Collins from Coinbase, a large US-based bitcoin services company, was decidedly lukewarm about the rules, remarking that it was 'troubling that this nascent industry is being subjected to more onerous regulations than those typically applied to legacy financial institutions'.

ULBRICHT RUES THE DAY HE OPENED UP SHOP

Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life imprisonment for drug trafficking when he was found to be the owner and operator of the Silk Road underground marketplace that sold drugs and other illicit goods to anonymous customers using bitcoin to make their payments.

NEW BITCOIN FUNDS LAUNCHED IN NEW YORK AND SWEDEN

In New York the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) began trading, immediately climbing to a substantial premium, although it has fallen back from its highs.

Nevertheless BIT is still expensive to buy into, unless you are able to buy through the backdoor, but you must purchase a minimum of $50,000 (£31,521) in BIT stock. Bitcoin Tracker One, Sweden's first publicly traded bitcoin security, got off to a more inauspicious start with a small gain on its first day of trading.

CON WATCH

The usual suspects of charlatans riding the bitcoin wave added to their number over the past month. Notable for its brazen approach is BTCflap, posing as a legitimate exchange when, according to cryptocoinnews, it was/is offering to pay above the 'market rate' for bitcoin but then not paying at all.

Legitimate business Bifinex, another bitcoin exchange, suspected its hot wallet containing 0.5 per cent of client deposits, according to the company, had been compromised. The company advised clients to stop deposits but it is now accepting client funds again.

NASDAQ AIMS TO LEAD THE PACK

Nasdaq stated back in May that it has been conducting experiments using the blockchain technology - the decentralised public ledger that bitcoin is built on.

The tech-heavy stock exchange hopes to use the blockchain - or rather a version of it - to make private share trading more practical and efficient. The experiments are taking place on the Nasdaq Private Market where companies trade the shares of pre-IPO companies.

THE CIRCLE'S FUNDING CIRCLE GROWS WIDER

Bitcoin brokerage company Circle raised $50 million in a new funding round. Circle's service will provide customers to hold, transfer, and receive bitcoins in instantaneous conversions between US dollars and bitcoin.

A customer could hold dollars and no bitcoin but still pay a merchant who accepts only bitcoin by allowing Circle to conduct the transaction and currency conversions. Goldman Sachs and IDG Capital Partners have joined Circle's existing funders.

FIFTH ANNIVERSARY PIZZA

Friday 22 May 2010 was the fifth anniversary of the first ever bitcoin transaction. Someone paid BTC10,000 for $25 worth of pizza. At today's prices that works out at $2,450,000.

To mark the occasion, UK bitcoin merchant platform provider Bitnet sent a pizza to our offices here in London. Thanks, but we would have preferred the original 10,000 bitcoin!

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