Fidelity Investments mines Bitcoins

The Spark

8th June 2017

The Spark newsletter is our fortnightly roundup of the latest innovation trends. To sign-up, click the register link in the footer of this page.

Bitcoin’s rise continues with its valuation at an all-time peak of £2,150 per bitcoin at time of writing. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t bottled it when buying a seriously modest amount at £230 a couple of years ago. The Wannacry global hacking scandal might have aided awareness, even if only £35,500 was paid out in ransom using the currency. A two hour special episode dedicated to the topic on the massive Tim Ferriss podcast this week hasn’t hurt the rising valuation either. However, bitcoin and its soaring value is perplexing currency analysts, but as Coinbase laments, comparing it to a currency is wrong – “it’s something way weirder.”

Weirdness hasn’t stopped mainstream institutions from trying to bring bitcoin to the masses. The world’s largest asset management firm, Fidelity will soon allow customers who have a Coinbase account to see their bitcoin assets on Fidelity. The finance giant’s CEO, Abigail Johnson, told the audience at the recent Consensus conference in New York that she was a huge believer in bitcoin.

Putting her bitcoin where her mouth is, Johnson has been encouraging Fidelity employees to experiment with digital currencies. In addition to using bitcoin to pay for food in the Fidelity cafeteria and accepting donations via bitcoin, the firm also started mining bitcoins for educational purposes, surprisingly making a lot of money in the process.

As bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology gains more and more traction, look for technology and forward-thinking business leaders to continue experimenting as Fidelity is doing here. As these experiments from large incumbent firms are made public, expect mainstream understanding of blockchain to grow.

Just as bitcoin’s valuation is volatile, the road to the mainstream is bumpy. At the moment, Forbes reports that transactions that should take 10 minutes are “taking days or not going through at all, and the average fee costs £3.67 — a negative development for a network whose proponents once touted the fact that it was cheaper than Visa.” However, its clickbait headline that bitcoin is about to self-destruct is somewhat overblown.

Indeed, demand continues to swell as more companies embrace blockchain. Similar technologies backing the various methods of exchange and some investors see it as a haven from uncertainty across the globe. As long as that continues and more mainstream use cases like Fidelity go smoothly, bitcoin’s value could continue to climb.

 

Click here to read the more of this issue of The Spark.