James Howells, the 35-year-old Welshman trying to convince Newport council to excavate from landfill his old laptop, so that he can recover £200m of misplaced bitcoin, is a cautionary tale for the twenty-tens.
Bitcoin is perhaps the greatest cultural curiosity of this generation. From a whitepaper and an idea to revolutionise finance, to an era-defining phenomenon generating billions for those who dared. In little over a decade, bitcoin has changed the way we think about asset classes, currency routes, and the instability of fractional-reserve banking. That’s a lot of change in not a lot of time.
Technology has a habit of moving so quickly that we can lose sight of the changes occurring before our eyes. In 10 years, bitcoin, and perception of it, has gone from a nerdy, niche passtime to a liquid asset class traded by the biggest incumbents. Along the way much has happened, but never before (to our knowledge) has this story been told in one place.
At TradingView we pride ourselves on users being able to access the highest quality information and best-in-class tools to inform their trading decisions. While information is no doubt important, it’s the way we allow people to sort the data that has the most tangible impact. It was with this in mind that, back in December, we launched a new feature, Timelines—a visual way of communicating essential information about a given company for traders and investors—with Tesla.
For Timelines, the TradingView editorial team takes the entire history of a public company, identifies the moments that mattered and then maps them to the company’s share price. The result for users is a greater contextualised understanding about how a company’s stock price has been impacted by past events. We’re going to roll the feature out to all major listed firms this year.
But before we do that, we’ve used the format to create a visual first draft of bitcoin’s history, highlighting the events in its short life that moved the market.
A chart, in its most simple form, is a timeline of events illustrated by the peaks and troughs that moved the market. But looking at those spikes, there is no indication of why the price dipped or rose without going back and analysing old news articles to determine what caused them.
By being able to see what event caused a price fluctuation, and understanding how certain events affect a given security, traders are better informed to make decisions when that subject comes up again. China’s on/ of relationship with bitcoin is case in point – flicking through the BTC timeline one can see the correlation between the country’s interventions and the asset’s price. By knowing the past consequences of what happens when ‘China’ and ‘bitcoin’ are uttered in the same sentence, traders are in an infinitely better position to respond the next time around.
It’s moments like these that are worth reflecting upon. Remember when the IRS declared bitcoin as property, rather than currency? Or when the UK’s first crypto cash machine opened on Old Street? The first halving? These events feel a lifetime away but really weren’t. And the decisions made back then are having a very real impact on the asset today.
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, or so to speak. Even for those secure in their knowledge of bitcoin, plainly, it is amusing to see how certain figures and institutions have changed their tune over the years.
It is only through looking at the past that we can understand the future. Regardless of who you ask, bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies more generally, are here to stay. Knowing where it all began—seeing how the currency reacted to past events—can offer traders an inclination of what comes next. Not too much digging through landfill, one hopes.