At the end of 2017, it was hard to imagine the crypto market going anywhere but up. But, in a surprising turn of events, the new year came and almost instantly billions of dollars were wiped from the market.
2018 will go down in history for its devastating bear market but despite crypto assets' steep price decline, the industry has had one of its most remarkable years to date. The innovation that occurred over the last 365 days will pave the way for a bullish future.
From ETFs to hard forks, we put together a list of the top headlines in crypto this year. Keep reading to relive the most important moments of crypto’s wild year.
South Korea Regulates Crypto.
While many nations around the world failed to provide meaningful regulatory guidance, South Korea emerged as an early leader. The country granted Bitcoin official economic value and even banned anonymous trading of crypto assets.
Venezuela issues the Petro.
In an unlikely effort to save Venezuela’s failing economy, President Nicolás Maduro announced it was issuing the “Sovereign Bolivar," a state-issued “cryptocurrency” to replace the hyperinflated national currency, the Bolivar.
The new Sovereign Bolivar, backed by the Petro, has done little to rescue Venezuelans from their economic catastrophe. Instead, Bitcoin has become a leading currency in the country. In October, the weekly trading volume in Venezuela reached an all-time high with nearly 300 million bolivars being traded for Bitcoin.
No Bitcoin ETFs for now.
Multiple crypto companies made efforts to pass Bitcoin ETFs. To date, each was denied or delayed by the SEC. In late November, Chairman of the SEC Jay Clayton provided long-awaited regularity clarity, confirming ETFs weren't getting his approval anytime soon. He expressed concern over price manipulation on existing crypto exchanges and said that improved market surveillance is necessary before ETFs can move forward "What investors expect is that trading in the commodity that underlies that ETF makes sense and is free from the risk of manipulation," Clayton continued. "It's an issue that needs to be addressed before I would be comfortable."
Bitcoin Cash hard forks.
In mid-November, Bitcoin Cash underwent its second hard fork. Two competing blockchains emerged, Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin Cash ABC.
This hard fork had arguably the most substantial effect on the crypto market this year. The disagreement between the Bitcoin Cash community triggered significant price declines across most crypto assets. Today, Bitcoin Cash ABC looks to be the victor, trading at $227.31 while Bitcoin Cash SV hovers at just $85.85.
Institutions are all in.
Despite Bitcoin and other top currencies losing nearly 80 percent of their value this year, financial institutions like Nasdaq, Fidelity, the New York Stock Exchange, Grayscale and more are doubling down.
Last month, Nasdaq officially unveiled their partnership with investment management firm VanEck. The two companies announced ambitious plans to “bring a regulated crypto 2.0 futures-type contract” to the market. Furthering their bullish stance, Nasdaq along with Fidelity and Bitmain participated in new crypto derivatives platform ErisX's $27.5 million fundraising round.
Investment firm Grayscale has also been investing heavily in crypto throughout the year and now owns 203,000 Bitcoins, more than 1 percent of the total circulating supply.
Facebook is Creating a Stablecoin.
News broke earlier this month that Facebook is creating a stablecoin that will allow WhatsApp users to transfer money. The launch will occur first in India and is likely a ways off as its only in the strategic planning stage.
US Congress proposes new crypto regulations.
Reps. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio and Darren Soto, D-Fla. proposed a bipartisan bill this month that would exclude crypto assets from the existing definition of a security. The “Token Taxonomy Act” provides an outline of a “digital token” and proposes amendments to both the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The news of the bill offers a bullish signal in an otherwise bearish market. Bitcoin and the top 100 currencies surged following the announcement, with their combined market cap gaining more than 30%.