This week on Planet Bitcoin - 24 March 2016

Friday 25 March 2016

TL;DR: stable for now, awaiting further instructions...

It’s Good Friday and a bank holiday tomorrow here in the UK, so this week’s market round-up is coming out a few hours early.

For the past week, bitcoin has traded within a relatively narrow range between $400 and $420. Although there’s been plenty of movement within that range, traders have proved stubbornly resistant to moving outside of it. Zoom out a little and it’s possible to see that this has been the picture for the last two-and-a-half weeks, since a brief dip below $400. Right now we’re in a holding pattern within that limited band of values.


On the block size front, we’re seeing gently increasing interest in Classic against the ‘official’ Core version, but it remains limited. Classic nodes now comprise one third of the network - 2,233 nodes vs 4,469 Core nodes at the time of writing - but very few blocks are mined by Classic nodes. That number has risen to 6% in the past week or so, but that’s obviously not nearly enough to activate the hardfork. Thus it’s fair to say that the bitcoin protocol also remains in a holding pattern for now, with immediate pressure on transactions and fees off, but with the knowledge that something must be done soon and in the anticipation of a SegWit release, scheduled for April.

Also looming is the block reward halving, currently expected in early July. This is a subject of much discussion amongst speculators, many of whom believe it will have a significant effect on price. Once the rewards for finding a block drop from the current 25 BTC to 12.5 BTC, goes the logic, the supply of new coins hitting the market will be reduced and so a rise in price can be expected. Others maintain this is already priced in.

Meanwhile, Ethereum remains impressively strong. Having come off its peak of 0.038 BTC earlier this month, it plunged 40% but has since recovered and has for the last week been trading between 0.02 and 0.03 BTC.

Elsewhere in Altland, it’s pretty quiet after some bumpy rides in the last few weeks. The big movers like Factom have slowed down a bit, though Monero continues to swing up and down - increasing in price by 25% this week. Riccardo Spagni, developer for Monero, has recently gone on record as saying that no altcoins currently have any useful features, and are plagued by fraud and insecure networks (Monero included - he admits the most likely scenario is failure). Whilst this is unduly pessimistic and there are alt platforms that do support genuine economies, his cynicism is vindicated by the churn of altcoins that appear and disappear in obvious pump-and-dump scams.

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