In most countries, regulators
exist to act as a watchdog for the consumers. In the United States, the
Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) role is to ensure that investors are
well-protected from rogue companies. There are other regulators such as the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) and Commodities Futures Trade Commission (CFCTC). At a
micro level, the auditors are trusted to ensure that the books of the companies
they audit are in order. People, who don’t have access to information that
these organizations have place their trust on the regulators.
In 2008, this system of checks
and balances failed when the financial industry nearly collapsed. The collapse
led to the closure of Lehman Brothers, which was one of the biggest investment
banks in the world with almost a trillion dollars of assets. Bear Sterns and Merrill
Lynch, were also sold for a song. At the same time, the biggest firms in Wall
Street such as iconic brands like AIG, General Motors, and General Electric
nearly collapsed. They were saved by the government’s TARP program. TARP stood
for Troubled Assets Relief Fund and was widely referred to as the bailout of
The lack of confidence in the
financial market and regulators enabled Satoshi Nakamoto to come up with an
invention that would change the world. Ten years ago, he published the white
paper that would introduce the world to the field of blockchain.
The challenge for the marketplace
was that the money transfer platforms back then were susceptible to government
tracking. For example, a seller who accepted popular platforms like Paypal and
Skrill would easily be tracked by the authorities. Therefore, Bitcoin was all
the platform was waiting for because it ensured anonymous trading.
Bitcoin became popular and its
price continued to rise. Back then, the price rose because of the demand that
was there in the dark web. A number of prominent companies like Microsoft too
started to accept Bitcoin. As the currency became popular, it inspired the
creation of copycat currencies such as Ripple and Ethereum. The industry also
became another asset class.
In 2017, the value of all
cryptocurrencies rose to almost $1 trillion. The reason for this was that
everyone was talking about the currencies and how successful other people had
become. This is known as the fear of missing out. At the time, the price of one
bitcoin rose to almost $20,000.
Then, things started to fall
apart. In 2018, the price of cryptocurrencies had a rough year as their value
declined by more than 80%. This decline happened as people started selling the
assets fearing that the price would collapse.
Looking ahead, the blockchain
industry will continue being around. This is because people will always demand
for an anonymous way to send money. This will likely happen in what are called
stablecoins that are backed by assets such as metals and the dollar.