Last week, CoinDesk released the latest report in our quarterly State of Bitcoin series.
Just like all our reports to date, the State of Bitcoin Q2 2015 was an all-encompassing look at the bitcoin ecosystem, clocking in at just shy of 100 slides of data.
It was the first positive quarter for bitcoin since this time last year, characterised by increased attention amidst the Greek crisis and interest from banks and governments in blockchain technology.
However, these weren’t the only takeaways from Q2. Here, we’ve put together a few hidden gems from the report you might have missed.
1. Bitcoin is on track to outpace the Internet
Bitcoin, more than anything else, is often compared to the Internet back in the technology’s early days. Both are rooted in fringe ideologies and, if you believe the hype, both have the ability to disrupt and empower via distributed networks of data.
The comparison is something that the State of Bitcoin has tracked since the series began. So, how is the currency fairing so far?
In investment terms, bitcoin startups are outperforming expectations – with $786m predicted to be invested in bitcoin by the end of this year (Slide 38), versus the $639 Internet companies netted in 1996.
This is taking into account BitFury’s latest $20m deal, which took place in Q3, alongside inflation and other startup running costs. Last year, bitcoin exceeded investment in 1995 Internet startups by $112m.
2. Bitcoin is looking more like a currency
Over the course of the currency’s short history, bitcoin has made a name for itself in the media as the speculators’ drug of choice through its dramatic peaks and troughs. While great headline fodder, these wild swings have limited bitcoin’s reliability as a day-to-day currency.
However, as volatility has eased off over the last few months, bitcoin’s trademark spikes have been smoothing out. The report shows that Q2 saw the lowest peak-to-trough percentage (20%) in recent memory. At its highest, the price was $262.48 and its lowest, $218.27 (Slide 11). This is down from 84% the same time last year.
The knock-on effect of Q2’s comparative calm, as Slide 22 shows, was reflected in the amount of interest in price stories on CoinDesk, as well as headlines from the mainstream media.
It also affected the quarter’s trading volume, which is continuing to dip in absence of big daily price movements (Slide 12).
3. But it’s still not a hit with consumers
So, could this reduced volatility signal a move away from bitcoin as an investment vehicle and towards a day-to-day currency?
The figures aren’t exactly encouraging. Although they make up its prime demographic, 51% of Millenials in a recent survey from Goldman Sachs said they had no plans to ever use the currency (Slide 25).
And while the number of bitcoin wallets continues to rise steadily, which we also witnessed in Q1, the number of merchants accepting the currency continued to slow in Q2 (Slide 57).
Some, shown here, have quietly dropped it as a payment option following poor sales.
4. China-based miners are now the majority
Chinese miners including BTC China, AntPool and F2Pool accounted for over 50% of the network’s hashing power in June (Slide 75). GHash.io, which sparked a high-profile debate around the dangers of mining centralisation – namely, a 51% attack – back in mid-2014, has seen its slice diminish significantly.
As well as having a supply of cheap power and labour, miners in China have proven their ability to build large-scale operations in a short window of time – crucial in an industry that has become a hashrate arms race.
In the five weeks after the launch of BTC China’s pool, the company said it had generated over $1.2m in bitcoin. Back then, it only had 5% of the network’s hashing power. Today it has significantly more.
5. The US is still bitcoin’s biggest fan
Though Silicon Valley’s share of bitcoin investment dipped below 50% this quarter (Slide 42) following Xapo’s relocation to Switzerland, a decision the company said was prompted by privacy concerns, stars and stripes still dominate the $834m investment poured into bitcoin startups to date.
In Q2, the total funding in the US and Canada grew by 28%, with huge rounds from Circle and Ripple, with the region now accounting for 72% of all VC money to date (Slide 39).
There are now 23 countries with VC-backed startups, yet investment from the US ($569.1m) is almost triple the rest of the world put together. For example, the UK, in second place, has attracted $42.9m in bitcoin investment to date, just 7.5% of its ally. At the bottom of the table, the Philippines makes up just 0.02% of the US total (Slide 40).
In summary, if you want to raise, raise in the USA.
6. Big bucks come from thinking big
While it helps to raise in the land of the free, the Q2 report revealed another common thread in many of the best-capitalised bitcoin startups: their ambitions.
‘Universal’ startups (those performing multiple functions in the ecosystem) raised the most funding this quarter ($50.1m), led by Circle. They were closely followed by startups offering financial services ($45.7m).
It appears it helps to think big when raising capital (Slide 44). The category, which also includes companies such as 21 Inc and Coinbase, has surpassed wallets and mining companies to become the biggest source of VC investment – now totalling above $300m (Slide 45) – which is nearly 40% of all investment (Slide 46). The remainder are yet to exceed the $100m mark.
Let us know what you found the most interesting in this latest State of Bitcoin report in the comments below.