Im reviewing the 2010s in Bitcoin. This is the story about 2015 in Bitcoin. Read about 2014 here.
In 2015, Ross Ulbricht was convicted of all charges in running the Silk Road; the BitLicense was fully implemented; Gizmodo and Wired suggested Craig Steven Wright might be Satoshi Nakamoto, and the block size debate picked up steam. But, thats not all that happened in 2015. Heres the review of Bitcoin in 2015.
Silk Road Trial
In early 2015, through the Silk Road trial, the world learned that, despite media and popular culture perception, Bitcoin is not anonymous.
A jury found on February 4 Ross Ulbricht guilty of all charges. He was Dread Pirate Roberts, the handle behind Silk Road. Sentenced in May to double life imprisonment plus forty years, Ulbricht faced no possibility of parole.
On the ninth day of the trial, the prosecution called key witness Ilhwan Yum, an FBI special agent and cyber security expert, who showed how bitcoin transactions are not anonymous, despite the misconception in media and popular culture of otherwise.
Yum demonstrated that in a 12-month period more than 700,000 bitcoins had been transferred from the Silk Road bitcoin wallet directly to a wallet on Ross Ulbrichts laptop. Agent Yum searched the bitcoin blockchain for transactions involving the bitcoin addresses found in the Silk Road wallet and those on Ross Ulbrichts laptop. He discovered direct transactions between them.
Bitcoin therefore provides the ultimate paper trail for law enforcement agencies, tax authorities and compliance professionals, wrote Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, a company that detected and investigated cybercrime involving cryptocurrencies.
The backdrop at Bitcoin Conference 2019
Block Size Debate & July 2015 Flood Attack
The Block Size debate was taken up a notch in 2015. The Bitcoin community debated whether or not to implement a code change to increase the size of the blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain. Gavin Andresen, who inherited lead engineer duties for Bitcoin from Satoshi Nakamoto, argued for increasing the block size. He argued that Bitcoin could not handle a large increase in transactions, and proposed BIP101, a bigger blocks proposal, also known as Bitcoin XT.
In July 2015, a Chinese mining pool, F2Pool, mined the biggest Bitcoin transaction that ever hit the blockchain. At 999 kilobytes, it took up an entire block. The now defunct CoinWallet.eu had sent tens of thousands of transactions across the bitcoin blockchain on multiple occasions.
By stress testing the system, we hope to make a clear case for the increased block size by demonstrating the simplicity of a large scale spam attack on the network, stated the company.
The BitLicense was implemented in August. No fewer than 10 bitcoin companies said they would stop all business in New York State due to the new regulations.
The New York Business Journal, in a story written by Forbes editor Michael del Castillo, called this the Great Bitcoin Exodus.
ShapeShift was the first business to leave. Bitcoin and blockchain technology have enabled a new standard of financial privacy and consumer protection Unfortunately, in spite of the technological achievements that now protect consumers, some jurisdictions have legally mandated the continued extraction of sensitive private information, the company wrote on its website.
The note compared New York State with North Korea. Fortune called it quite a statement by a buzzy startup and a big name in the bitcoin community.
NYDFS told Fortune: We always recognized that there is going to be some part of this community that is against even pretty standard financial regulatory oversight measures, such as anti-money laundering controls and other consumer protections. That said, one digital currency company has already received a license from NYDFS and a number of others have stated they intend to seek BitLicenses shortly. Ultimately, we believe that prudent regulation will be important to building greater consumer confidence in digital currency and sparking wider adoption.
NYDFS granted Circle Internet Financial the first BitLicense in September 2015.
Craig Steven Wright
Based on the tip of an anonymous person, Wired and Gizmodo both suggested in December 2015 that Craig Wright might be Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. Documents provided to Gizmodo suggested that Wright, an Australian businessman, and Dave Kleiman, an American computer forensics expert who in 2013 passed away, together developed Bitcoin.
After the release of the reports, police promptly raided Wrights home and office. The Australian Federal police denied the raids were related to the claims that Wright founded Bitcoin.
The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney. This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin.
80% of Bitcoin Trading Volume Conducted in Chinese Yuan
Goldman Sachs released in March a report contending that 80 percent of the Bitcoin volume is driven by the Chinese yuan. The U.S. dollar ranked as the second most used currency for transactions, followed by the euro.
China registered high trading activity despite the Peoples Bank of China having banned in December 2014 financial institutions from bitcoin trading. "However, in light of a somewhat stabilizing Bitcoin economy in China, a few payment processors have reemerged, such as BTC China's JustPay, wrote Goldman Sachs.
The bank added: Bitcoin and other crypto currencies enable the potential for faster transactions with lower transaction fees. The Bitcoin network can charge as little as zero for processing transactions if there is no time constraint for confirmation."
Greek Bank Closures Leads to Uptick in Bitcoin Interest
Bank closures in Greece to prevent a financial collapse led to an uptick of activity on Bitcoin trading platforms. German marketplace Bitcoin.de told CNNMoney that ten times as many Greeks were registering to trade bitcoins than before the crisis, with Bitcoin trading in Greece increasing 79% from their ten-week average on Bitstamp, the worlds third-largest Bitcoin exchange at the time.
The Shanghai-based LakeBTC saw a 40% increase in visitors from Greece, and Polish exchange Bitcurex claimed to receive many emails from Greeks asking questions about Bitcoin.
The CFTC Classifies Bitcoin As Commodity
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) classified in September Bitcoin as a commodity, like gold and oil.
CFTC holds that bitcoin and other virtual currencies are a commodity covered by the commodity exchange act, the regulator said in a statement.
Aitan Goelman, the CFTCs director of enforcement, noted that while there is a lot of excitement surrounding bitcoin...innovation does not excuse those acting in this space from following the same rules applicable to all participants in the commodity derivatives markets.
Coinbase Raises $75 Million and Bitcoin Unicode
Those werent the only stories revolving around Bitcoin in 2015, of course. The New York Stock Exchange was a minority investor in Coinbases 2015 $75 million funding round, for instance
And, in November, the Unicode Committee, which sets the standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing system, adopted the bitcoin currency symbol so that it would eventually be easily typed on computers and devices.
Thats 2015 in Bitcoin. Coming soon: The Year 2016.
The 2010s In Bitcoin: The Year 2015 - Forbes
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