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 Wall Street.
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.