21 December 2017 | By Iqbal Gandham Community

2018: cryptocurrencies and UK business

Following a year of unimaginable success, bitcoin and other leading cryptocurrencies are set to feature more prominently in the UK

Throughout the course of an incredible year, cryptocurrencies have constantly defied the skeptics to achieve unimaginable success. Now the soaring interest in cryptos has become impossible to ignore, for investors and business leaders alike.

By mid-December the total market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies topped $500bn for the first time. That’s up from $14.5bn a year ago. In 2013 one bitcoin – the original crypto, launched on 3rd January, 2009 – was worth $12, and now they are worth around $18,000 each. From October to mid December 2017 bitcoin’s value tripled.

Indeed, bitcoin on its own has a market capitalisation of almost $300bn, making it more valuable than some major financial organisations (such as Visa), and many of the world’s countries (including mid-sized nations Finland and Greece).

Google’s 2017 Year in Search showed “what is bitcoin”, “how to buy bitcoin” and “how to mine bitcoins” all appeared near the top of their respective trending lists. And, unsurprisingly, a growing number of leading businesses across the world are accepting bitcoin as payment, including Microsoft, Subway, Expedia, Virgin Galactic, and WordPress.

In 2018 a fifth of UK businesses are expected to use cryptos to process payments, doubling the current figure, according to a recent survey published by MarketInvoice in September — before the winter’s nosebleed-inducing spike in bitcoin’s value.

Entering the mainstream

Until recently the story of cryptocurrencies has focused on whether they can become real-world currencies, capable of global transactions on a large scale. With bitcoin’s market capitalisation continuing to grow this is looking increasingly likely.

With bitcoin, and cryptos in general, flooding into the mainstream, it is logical that British companies should move into the 21st century and process payments in whatever form that is on offer. And in 2018 we can expect plenty of organisations in various sectors claiming to be the first in their industry to deal in cryptos. While that may generate a certain amount of kudos, and is likely to attract new customers, when this inevitably happens it will be more than a public-relations stunt: the bottom line is that it is practical.

The advantage of being a first mover in this market could lead to a game-changing pivot. However, there are benefits for companies of all sizes; for smaller organisations, trading in cryptos encourages international business and could ease scalability; and for larger corporates it is a chance to jump ahead of competitors.

Some have been predicting for months that the bitcoin bubble will burst, but it continues to climb to unprecedented levels. And even if it does burst, people should consider the potential, because of the blockchain technology underpinning it, rather than just looking at the prices of cryptos.

We’ve tracked the explosion of interest in cryptos as new clients have signed up to eToro, our global trading and investment platform. And currently we offer seven cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, bitcoin cash, dash, ethereum, ethereum classic, litecoin, and XRP, which means investors can take a diversified approach to shelter from volatility.

As with any investment there is a risk you will not get back the capital you put in. However, the volatility that we’ve seen in 2017 presents an exciting opportunity for traders and has shown positive growth for long-term investors.

Despite what of a dwindling number of skeptics might think, the future looks very bright for cryptocurrencies. Can you afford to ignore it?

Cryptocurrencies can fluctuate widely in prices and are therefore not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework. Your capital is at risk.

This content is for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or an investment recommendation.

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