Internet Trends Report 2018: “Exploding” Interest in Crypto

Avi Rosten
  • The annual report which "tells stories of business-related trends" - identified a massive increase in cryptocurrency interest
  • The report also showed that bitcoin was a popular topic at university

Venture capitalist Mary Meeker’s popular annual Internet Trends Report has this year identified an “exploding” interest in cryptocurrency.

Compiled in conjunction with venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Partners and Hillhouse Capital, the 294-page report focuses on “trends around data” to “tell stories of business-related trends.”

Of particular interest, the report showed that academic interest in cryptocurrency hit a new high in 2017 - with a Princeton course on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies ranking in the top 10 most popular university courses for the year.

 

Meeker’s report looked at some interesting stats to illustrate the increase in cryptocurrency interest: data from Coinbase shows their user numbers increasing nearly fourfold between January and December 2017.

coinbase users.png

The chart also shows a particular spike in the frenetic autumn period when bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies rose rapidly - although the chart fails to include the figures for coinbase membership during December when bitcoin reached its all-time high of $20,000.

Moving into the Mainstream

Coinbase have arguably been instrumental in the penetration of cryptocurrency into the mainstream - in particular for retail investors. One of the few exchanges to offer fiat pairings with top cryptocurrencies, the exchange and wallet provider has name recognition that extends beyond the confines of the crypto-world.

With reports released today confirming that Bittrex are set to offer Bitcoin US Dollar trading on their exchange - recent moves by other exchanges towards offering fiat pairings will no doubt increase this movement towards mainstream recognition.

Weekly Newsletter

U.S. CFTC Reportedly Investigating BitMEX for Unlawful Derivatives Trading

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the American agency charged with regulating futures markets, are investigating the BitMEX cryptoasset exchange for allegedly allowing U.S. persons to trade on its platform, according to anonymous sources speaking to Bloomberg.

The investigation has already been underway for “months,” and has not been made public by the CFTC. U.S. persons are barred from trading securities, derivatives and futures products on exchanges not regulated by one of its regulatory agencies. The BitMEX exchange is registered in Seychelles, an island archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean.

BitMEX have for some time blocked connections coming from the U.S. and Québec, as well as several other countries, and even recently updated their terms of service to further highlight this standard. Yet it remains easy to bypass this geoblocking with the use of a virtual private network (VPN).

A spokesperson for BitMEX told CryptoGlobe:

"HDR Global Trading Limited, owner of BitMEX, as a matter of company policy, does not comment on any media reports about inquiries or investigations by government agencies or regulators and we have no comment on this report."

VPNs and Crypto Exchanges

CryptoGlobe considered this issue in detail early in 2019, and found BitMEX to be at risk of precisely such an investigation based on historical example and industry experts’ opinions.

A September 2018 report from the Office of the New York State Attorney General (OAG) on general performance of many top cryptoasset exchanges wrote on the subject of VPNs: “platforms must take reasonable steps to unmask or block customers that attempt to access their site via known VPN connections.”

The contest between VPNs and entities trying to block VPNs is an ongoing and complex battle. It remains a question however, whether BitMEX, beyond blocking IPs originating from unauthorized countries like the U.S., institutes any further measures to prevent those users from connecting using basic routing tools.

Nearly a year ago, U.S. authorities seized the domain of 1Broker, a Marshall-islands based exchange offering services similar to BitMEX’s to offering unapproved services to U.S. persons. 1Broker was well known for allowing U.S. IPs to connect without even a VPN to mask the origin.