Investors in digital currencies didn’t have much—if anything—to cheer about in 2018.
The best-known cryptocurrency, bitcoin,
lost more than 75% of its value, the cryptocurrency that runs on the ethereum blockchain, Ether,
tumbled close to 90% and ongoing exchange hacks continued to dent the integrity of the opaque industry.
But, in and amongst the plethora of negativity, there were some exciting developments for the industry. Here’s a look at a few of the highlights, courtesy of a report compiled by Marsh & McLennan, FireEye and Circle:
Read: This is where cryptocurrencies are actually making a difference in the world
In February, as bitcoin sunk to $6,000, falling 60% in 4 weeks, Canadian regulators approved the first blockchain-based exchange-traded fund. The fund, Blockchain Technologies ETF,
filed by Harvest Portfolios provides exposure to investors via investment in securities of issuers “exposed, directly or indirectly to the development and implementation of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies,” the company said in the filing.
Read: These may be the 3 biggest hurdles to a bitcoin ETF
Four months later, the price of bitcoin and Ether received a short-lived bounce when on June 14, William Hinman, the director of finance at the Securities and Exchange Commission said the two most popular cryptocurrencies are not securities. Had the two been labeled as securities, they would have been subject to much stricter scrutiny from regulatory bodies.
Read: Bitcoin and Ether rally after SEC official says they aren’t securities
October proved to be a busy month for crypto watchers. U.S. based digital currency exchange Coinbase was granted approval by the New York Department of Financial Service to offer custodial services for a number of digital currencies. Custody, the holding a securing of digital currencies, is a sticking point for the industry as exchange heists continue to weigh on market sentiment.
Read: Here are the biggest hacks and scams in cryptocurrency history
Arguably the biggest news of the year came on Oct. 15 when financial services giant Fidelity Investments announced it had launched a new company that will offer digital currency services to its clients. “Our goal is to make digitally-native assets, such as bitcoin, more accessible to investors,” said Abigail P. Johnson, chairman and CEO of Fidelity Investments in a statement.
In the release, the company said it had been exploring digital assets since 2013.
Read: Fidelity launches cryptocurrency trading platform
Also in October, a number of industry leaders, including Circle, Coinbase and ConsenSys joined Global Digital Finance, an industry nonprofit that drives adoption of digital finance, to develop and implement an industry code of conduct.
And, rounding out the year, G20 leaders said in December that they support an open financial system that includes standards to regulate new technologies such as cryptocurrency. The statement was viewed by many as the first coordinated effort to regulate and oversee the maturing market.
So while the casual onlooker may perceive 2018 as a catastrophe for the digital currency community—which in many ways it was—there were a number of strides made to bring the nascent industry into mainstream financial markets.
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