Panic buying spreads to Bitcoin

Source: Panic buying spreads to Bitcoin | The Financial Gazette September 28, 2017

Bitcoin rose prominence in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Bitcoin rose prominence in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

ON Monday, cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, saw a price spike on the local exchange, in the wake of a buying frenzy over the weekend. Bitcoin is digital cash defined by its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, as “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”.

Demand for Bitcoin in Zimbabwe has been on the rise as locals look for alternative ways to settle international payments after the central bank introduced stringent exchange control rules early last year in a bid to manage a foreign currency crunch. Zimbabweans have increasingly resorted to Bitcoin to make foreign payments for a variety of transactions, including paying for vehicles imports. The digital currency traded as high as $7 200 on BitcoinFundi, a local cryptocurrency exchange, representing a premium of about 85 percent against prices on Coinbase (American mainstream digital asset exchange) from the same day, $3 900.

Locally, Bitcoin typically trades at a premium, but market prices on Monday were unusually high, reflecting a surge in local demand for the cryptocurrency amid the anxiety that gripped the nation over the weekend. Investors are looking for ways of preserving the value of their bank balances, a trend that has been evident in other markets in the economy, particularly equities.

The price of the digital currency reverted to less extraterrestrial levels on Tuesday as the situation in the broader economy showed signs of settling back to normalcy. On Tuesday, trading of Bitcoin on BitcoinFundi was predominantly in the price ranges of $4 000 to $5 500 representing a premium of between 5 percent and 40 percent.

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Globally, Bitcoin has risen to prominence in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis as it is a decentralised currency, with no single institution or entity dictating what happens within the network. Bitcoin is also favoured by many because of its transparency, which is achieved through a public ledger that records every transaction in the currency. The digital currency has also served as an investment toll or a way to store value for many despite its volatility.

Since September 2016, Bitcoin value has soared by over 500 percent. A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency. There are over a 100 such currencies in circulation around the world, with a total market capitalisation of more than $100 billion. Bitcoin is the most prominent cryptocurrency with a market capitalisation exceeding $60 billion. –  By Omega Ukama

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