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Bloomberg reported the biggest 17 crypto merchant-processing services handled $69 million in June 2018, down from $411 million in September 2017. Bitcoin is"not really usable" for retail transactions due to high costs and the inability to process chargebacks, according to Nicholas Weaver, a researcher supplied by Bloomberg. High price volatility and transaction fees make paying small retail purchases with bitcoin impractical, according to economist Kim Grauer.
Bitcoin has not gained acceptance for use in international remittances despite high prices charged by banks and Western Union who compete in this marketplace. Unlike bitcoin, these competitors accept and dispense cash and do not require the use of the Internet that's a distinct advantage in lower income countries.31
In 2014, the National Australia Bank closed accounts of businesses with ties to bitcoin,141 and HSBC refused to serve a hedge fund with links to bitcoin.142 Australian banks in general have been reported closing down bank accounts of operators of businesses involving the currency.143
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Plans were announced to include a bitcoin futures option on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2017.144 Trading in bitcoin futures was announced to begin on 10 December 2017.145
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The Winklevoss twins also have bought bitcoin. In 2013 The Washington Post reported a claim that they owned 1% of all of the bitcoins in existence in the time.146
Other methods of investment are bitcoin funds. The first controlled bitcoin fund was created in Jersey in July 2014 and approved by the Jersey Financial Services Commission.147
In 2013 and 2014, the European Banking Authority148 and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a United States self-regulatory organization,149 warned that investing in bitcoins carries significant risks. Forbes named bitcoin the best investment of 2013.150 In 2014, Bloomberg named bitcoin one of its worst investments of the year.151 In 2015, bitcoin topped Bloomberg's currency tables.152.
According to bitinfocharts.com, in 2017 there are 9,272 bitcoin pockets with greater than $1 million value of bitcoins.153 The exact number of bitcoin millionaires is uncertain as a single person can have more than one bitcoin wallet.
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Venture capitalists, for example Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, which invested US$3 million in BitPay, do not buy bitcoins themselves, but instead fund bitcoin infrastructure that offers payment systems to merchants, exchanges, wallet solutions, etc.. 154 In 2012, an incubator for bitcoin-focused start-ups was founded by Adam Draper, with financing assistance from his dad, venture capitalist Tim Draper, one of the most significant bitcoin holders after winning an auction of 30,000 bitcoins,155 in the time referred to as"mystery buyer".156 The company's goal is to fund 100 bitcoin businesses within 23 years with $10,000 to $20,000 for a 6% stake.155 Investors also invest in bitcoin mining.157 According to a 2015 analysis by Paolo Tasca, bitcoin startups increased nearly $1 billion in three years (Q1 2012 Q1 2015).158.
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Bitcoin price bubbles in 2011, 2013 and 2017Priceg (left y-axis, logarithmic scale) and volatilityh (right y-axis).66
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The cost of all bitcoins has gone through cycles of appreciation and depreciation known by some as bubbles and busts.159 In 2011, the value of one bitcoin quickly rose from approximately US$0.30 to US$32 before returning to US$2.160 In the latter half of 2012 and during the 201213 Cypriot this hyperlink financial crisis, the bitcoin price began to rise,161 reaching a high of US$266 on 10 April 2013, before crashing to around US$50.162 On 29 November 2013, the cost of one bitcoin climbed to a peak of US$1,242.163 In 2014, the cost fell sharply, and as of April remained depressed at little more than half of 2013 costs.
According to Mark T. Williams, at 2014update, bitcoin has earnings seven times larger than gold, eight times greater than the S&P 500, and 18 times greater than the US dollar.167
Due to bitcoin's decentralized nature and its trading on online exchanges situated in many countries, regulation of bitcoin has been challenging. However, the use of bitcoin can be criminalized, and shutting down exchanges and the peer-to-peer economy in a given country would constitute a de facto ban.168 The legal status of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them.
According to the Library of Congress, an"absolute ban" on trading or using cryptocurrencies applies in eight countries: Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. An"proposed ban" applies in another 15 countries, which include Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Lesotho, Lithuania, Macau, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.170.
Seventeen other countries have similar AML requirements.170 As of 2018update U.S. FinCEN receives more than 1,500 SARs a month involving cryptocurrencies.171