Christian Catalini, a professor and founder of MIT’s Cryptoeconomics Lab said widespread news coverage has led to a rush to buy bitcoin. “The fear of missing out has been the leitmotif of the year. People hear about the price of bitcoin increasing and increasing and when that happens the price goes up. You’ve seen this dance of enthusiasm and hype building.”

Major thefts and losses This year, cryptocurrency investors also suffered through major thefts and distressing mishaps. In early December, hackers stole more than $70 million worth of bitcoin from NiceHash, a marketplace for generating virtual currencies through complex mathematical calculations. But digital heists weren’t the only way cryptocurrency investors were stripped of their money.

“Blockchain and other names associated with the cryptocurrency world have been used for marketing for a while,” said Walch. “Put blockchain and PowerPoint together and VCs will throw money at you. What we have seen is this has become laughable.”

Bitcoin came into its own this year. The digital currency — which was created nearly nine years ago — became a highflying investment vehicle, prompting much discussion about its existence, how to capitalize on its rise and the mania surrounding cryptocurrency. As 2017 comes to a close, we decided to look at some major events and themes (both good and bad) for bitcoin.

If this year was one of rediscovery and acceleration for bitcoin, as Catalini put it, next year may be defined by further development and transformation, he said. As bitcoin moves closer to mainstream applications, Catalini sees new forms of centralization taking hold, such as the rise in popularity and influence of cryptocurrency exchanges, since consumers tend to prefer products that are convenient and accessible. He also envisions other experiments in applying blockchain technology beyond cryptocurrency.” The space is maturing and that also means more pressure on bitcoin core developers and open source developers to really get this technology and scale it.”

Some have lost small fortunes by their very own hands. Harrowing tales have cropped up recently detailing how people have lost or forgot their login credentials to access their bitcoin, prompting some to hire hypnotists, enlist benevolent hackers and even endeavor to rummage through mountains of trash to get their bitcoin back.

Businesses even renamed themselves to capitalize on the hype Hoping to seize on the bitcoin frenzy, some businesses have even changed their names to include the word “blockchain,” the technology that drives the virtual currency. Last week, the beverage company Long Island Iced Tea said that it was renaming itself Long Blockchain. Soon after, its stock price tripled. And when a British company named On-line PLC announced that it would change its name to On-line Blockchain PLC, its shares jumped by almost 400 percent, according to News.

“The mania is continuing because there are still folks who have no clue what it is,” he said. “I can’t tell you if this bubble is going to break at $20,000, $120,000 0r $220,000. I don’t know. But I don’t want to be the one holding the bag when it does break.”

The contracts will be subject to oversight by the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Before trading began, the exchanges self certified that its products complied with industry rules and pledged to help the CFTC monitor the underlying market for bitcoin, according to .

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