A breach that may have resulted in the loss of about $70 million worth of bitcoins on Wednesday seemingly encapsulated investors’ worst fears about the lack of security of virtual currencies.
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Despite this, the frenzy surrounding the cryptocurrency continued to escalate, and on Thursday, bitcoin surged past $16,600 for the first time ever. On Thursday evening, bitcoin hovered just below $16,500, and ethereum, another cryptocurrency, was trading around $400.
This price jump occurred shortly after the announcement that bitcoin futures will start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (NASDAQ:CBOE) and CME Group’s (NASDAQ:CME) platforms in mid-December -- a move that could have a legitimizing effect on the sometimes controversial currency.
Virtual currencies have been at the epicenter of debate this year, with some business moguls criticizing bitcoin as a “bubble about to burst” -- including CEO of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) Jamie Dimon, who labeled bitcoin a “fraud” -- while other executives have suggested it could be the currency of the future, including Fireapps CEO Wolfgang Koester.
“I absolutely predict that the United States within 2018 will issue their own digital dollar, as I would call it,” Koester told FOX Business’ Liz Claman during “Countdown to the Closing Bell.”
Already, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Russian President Vladimir Putin have announced plans to create their own, national cryptocurrencies, a policy change that would effectively eliminate the use of paper money as the national currency.
That decision benefits leaders, Koester said, because they could have almost total autonomy over the currency usage as the owner of the ledger, meaning they’d have complete visibility into all transactions.
“They need to get into the 21st century and have complete automation of these processes that are anything related to liquidity,” he said. “It is absolutely impossible in the next 12 months for a corporation to sit there and say I have manual processes and Excel spreadsheets. It will be gone.”