By Joon Ian Wang and Nathan Reiff
Bitcoin is apparently surging in Zimbabwe after the military seized power in an apparent coup in November 2017. But its true effect on the local economy (emphasis: Zimbabwe economy) is not publicly known. Bloomberg reports that bitcoin is trading in Zimbabwe at over $13,000, nearly double the global price of bitcoin. But that is at November 2017 when the military took power from Robert Mugabe.
But that’s not quite the whole picture.
The price that Bloomberg and other media have quoted comes from a cryptocurrency exchange in Zimbabwe called Golix. The Golix website shows a wide spread between bids and asks, with the current price settling at around $13,500. But go to another marketplace for bitcoin in Zimbabwe and you will see much lower prices.
Golix appears to be the sole cryptocurrency exchange in Zimbabwe. But most markets that aren’t well served by exchanges, like Zimbabwe, usually have a thriving peer-to-peer scene. That’s what you see when you go to LocalBitcoins, the biggest global platform for peer-to-peer bitcoin trading. Zimbabwe’s LocalBitcoin brokers are quoting prices around $7,000, which is in line with the global price of bitcoin.
Golix is working spreadsheets in Zimbabwe between bids and asks, and here they are counting coins in less than 200
It’s the brokers who offer to settle transactions in cash, instead of online payments or via bank transfers, who are demanding a steep premium in Zimbabwe. They are asking for $17,000 to $20,000 a coin from buyers who pay them in physical US dollars. So what explains the inflated prices on Golix? It’s probably just low liquidity.
Golix’s website shows that it traded just over 7 bitcoins in the last 24 hours, and about 147 coins over the last 30 days. That’s in contrast to tens of thousands of bitcoins traded over LocalBitcoins globally each month, or tens of thousands per day on the biggest US dollar exchanges, like Coinbase or Bitfinex.
LocalBitcoins, in fact, has been rocketing in popularity over the years. It doesn’t show data for Zimbabwe, but volumes on the platform have risen significantly around the world in recent months.
In 2017, the value of a single bitcoin soared from below $1,000 to close to $20,000 at its highest point.
The cryptocurrency dominated news cycles and investor interest, racking up a total market cap of well over $250 billion as of this writing. Beyond the performance of the coin itself, the cryptocurrency industry as a whole exploded, with new coins, startups, ICOs, and modes of investment appearing all the time.
Here are some of the best books to read to learn about bitcoin and the cryptocurrency revolution.
“Mastering Bitcoin” by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
Published in 2014, this is a key book to understanding the idea and concept of a decentralized currency based in the digital world. The book goes into the technology behind bitcoin, the purpose of the virtual currency, and its applications in the real world. Readers learn how the currency works, the nature of bitcoin transactions and details about the underlying network. The book also covers some critical concepts behind bitcoin, such as the blockchain and bitcoin wallet. A new edition, released in July of 2017, has updates reflecting the latest developments.
“Cryptoassets” by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar
Written by the founder of a cryptocurrency asset firm and an angel investor, this 2017 book explores not only digital currencies, but related tokens and commodities. It is written in an easy-to-read style, but that doesn’t mean that it’s short on information. Of particular note is a detailed history of the industry, which many new investors may not know about.
“The Book Of Satoshi” by Phil Champagne
The author aims to get people caught up on the key issues behind the creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Champagne investigates who Nakamoto is, whether it is one person or a group, and how it was possible for Nakamoto to create bitcoin while remaining completely anonymous. The book contains actual emails and internet posts by Nakamoto, which are presented in chronological order.
The text also includes a variety of technical bitcoin topics broken down into easy-to-follow layperson terms. The currency’s economic potential and implications are discussed, and a copy of the original white paper by Nakamoto, which started the entire concept of bitcoin, is included.
“Cryptocurrency” by Abraham K. White
This book, released in October of 2017, is all about mining, investing, and trading in digital currencies other than bitcoin. Yes, it includes material on the original and leading cryptocurrency, but readers may find it even more useful for its analysis of and recommendations regarding lesser-known digital currencies.
“Bitcoin From Beginner to Expert” by Christian Newman
An excellent general primer on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more broadly, Newman’s book divides its coverage between the practicalities of investing in bitcoin and details of the blockchain technology which supports it. This book is recommended for investors without prior background, and it’s a great jumping off point to explore the subjects related to virtual currency in more depth.
“Digital Gold” by Nathaniel Popper
This 2015 book was shortlisted for the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey business book of the year. Nathaniel Popper investigates the anonymous creator and beginnings of bitcoin and tells the story of the digital currency through the eyes of many of the currency’s central characters, including South American and Asian millionaires, the Winkelvoss twins, and the mysterious and unknown creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. The author also analyzes bitcoin and makes comparisons of the digital currency to gold, stating how bitcoin may be the global standard for “store of value.”
Source: Quartz and Investopedia
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