Bitcoin had a tumultuous year in 2014. The headline news all year was the greatest collapse in the exchange rate since 2013 (remember in April '13 when Bitcoin went from $260 to $50?). There were also scams enacted on a massive scale – the size of which had not been seen since 2012. Very few businesses flourished, and many floundered. All in all, just another year in the single most fun and exciting phenomenon of our lifetime.
2014 started with a bang. Bitcoins were selling for $1,000 each after being worth just $15 a year earlier. Bubble mania was in full swing as an unknown investor sold millions of dollars worth of options on MPEx betting the price would continue to rise. Instead, the bubble popped. The price started to free fall, and Mt. Gox finally decided they couldn't lie with a straight face any longer and they closed up shop. The sell-off was on, and the price dropped 33%.
The Mt. Gox closure surprised exactly no one who had been paying attention for the past year, but it did contribute to a more surprising shutdown. MPEx, despite mopping up to the tune of 8,000 bitcoin during the price collapse, decided to shut down its options exchange. This turned off 75% of the revenue from Bitcoin's largest company by market cap, and may have set the stage for some wild share price fluctuations later in the year.
March saw some renewed optimism. The price stopped plummeting, and the owner of BitBet staked 1,000 BTC that Bitcoin would be a better investment over the next year than Berkshire Hathaway. Despite the rough start to the year, this was seen as laughably obvious and there were few takers on the other side. However by the end of the month the price was sinking again, and by the end of April the price was settled at $450.
The summer begin with Bitcoin's usual mix of good news and bad news. The price rebounded to $650 in May and stayed there. Many investors thought this might be the new plateau until the next bubble. On the downside, MPEx dropped off its peak market cap of just over 1 million BTC and started to slide downward. This reversed an 18 month bull run in the stock price and may have been a delayed reaction to the options exchange shutting down. Just-Dice, one of the most successful Bitcoin investment vehicles, abruptly closed down due to Canadian regulations (although it quickly paid out every bitcoin owed to investors).
Overall it was a good summer. The first batch of Silk Road coins were bought at auction with active bidding, and investors eagerly awaited news of how much was paid for them. MPEx listed its first new company of 2014. Even watching a staggering amount of bitcoin get blown into the ethereum scam didn't seem like more than yet another turn of the chumpatron.
As summer ended however, things turned south. The price dropped 20% in August and another 20% in September. It finally fell so far that bettors lost confidence and started wagering against Bitcoin versus Berkshire Hathaway. 2,500 BTC would be wagered against Bitcoin by the end of the year. Panacea, one of the few good bitcoin investments left standing, did not survive its first birthday. October did see one bright spot in the financial landscape as Qntra.net listed on MPEx (disclaimer: you are on qntra right now!).
Things kept slipping as winter approached. MPEx share prices dropped to all-time lows. War of Life, which was listed on MPEx in June, closed and delisted. No Such lAbs missed its second annual Christmas deadline to ship its first product. And the exchange rate just kept falling, finishing the year down to $310.
2014 was hardly a great year in Bitcoin finance, and 2015 has started out rough as well. There may be a hard-fork war, and the instability is putting continued stress on the price. But like any financial market, there is opportunity for the brave and the bold. Stay sharp, and enjoy the ride!