As more financial services firms look for ways to utilise blockchain technology within their infrastructures, Galen Stops examines whether the technology is really as safe as advocates claim, following two high-profile hacks earlier this year.
“Cyber and system security is one of the most important issues facing markets today in terms of integrity and financial stability,” said Commissioner Christopher Giancarlo of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on September 8, when approving system safeguard requirements for derivatives clearing organisations.
Giancarlo is hardly alone in his concerns.
Galen Stops looks at why demand for cryptoassets has skyrocketed in 2017 and assesses whether they have any future in mainstream financial markets.
The first working implementation of a blockchain that the world had ever seen was in the Bitcoin software released in 2009. Bitcoin the cryptocurrency then rose to prominence in 2013 when, driven in part by a flurry of media attention, its value rose past $1,000 for the first time.
Following that, 2014 represented a long and painful year of price decline for Bitcoin as an asset, but it continued to garner a lot of attention, not always for good reasons. Then in 2015 the narrative began to change as people really started talking about the potential applications of blockchain technology distinct from any digital assets.
It seemed, not for the first time, like the cryptocurrency bubble had burst yesterday, when the price of Bitcoin tumbled 22% and Ether – Ethereum's native cryptocurrency – similarly dropped 23%.
As Profit & Loss previously reported, these cryptocurrencies – the largest two available by market capitalisation – have been trending up rapidly in 2017, reaching record highs at the start of June.
Yet Bitcoin went from a valuation high of $2,823 on Wednesday to a low of $2,189 on Thursday, according to data from Coindesk. Likewise, the data showed that the price of Ether dropped from $395 to $303 over the same period of time.