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Bloomberg reported the largest 17 crypto merchant-processing providers handled $69 million in June 2018, down from $411 million in September 2017. Bitcoin is"not actually usable" for retail transactions due to high prices and the inability to process chargebacks, according to Nicholas Weaver, a researcher quoted by Bloomberg. High price volatility and transaction fees make paying small retail purchases using bitcoin impractical, according to economist Kim Grauer.
Bitcoin has not gained acceptance for use in international remittances despite large prices charged by banks and Western Union who compete in the marketplace. Unlike bitcoin, these competitors take and dispense cash and do not demand the use of the Internet which is 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 function 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 have bought bitcoin. In 2013 The Washington Post reported a claim which they owned 1 percent of all the bitcoins in existence at the time.146
Other methods of investment are bitcoin funds. The first controlled bitcoin fund was established 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 calendar year.151 In 2015, bitcoin topped Bloomberg's currency tables.152.
According to bitinfocharts.com, in 2017 there are 9,272 bitcoin wallets with more 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, such as Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, which invested US$3 million in BitPay, do not purchase bitcoins themselves, but instead fund bitcoin infrastructure that provides payment methods for 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 father, venture capitalist Tim Draper, one of the most significant bitcoin holders after winning an auction of 30,000 bitcoins,155 at the time referred to as"mystery buyer".156 The company's aim is to fund 100 bitcoin businesses within 23 years using $10,000 to $20,000 to get a 6% stake.155 Investors also invest in bitcoin mining.157 According to some 2015 analysis by Paolo Tasca, bitcoin startups raised nearly $1 billion in 3 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 (appropriate y-axis).66
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The price of 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 2012 and during the 201213 Cypriot financial informative post catastrophe, 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 dropped sharply, and as of April remained depressed at little more than half 2013 costs.
According to Mark T. Williams, at 2014update, bitcoin has volatility seven times greater than gold, eight times larger 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 located in many countries, regulation of bitcoin has been difficult. On the other hand, the usage 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 standing of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and remains undefined or changing in many of them.
According to the Library of Congress, an"complete ban" on trading or using cryptocurrencies applies in eight countries: Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. An"implicit 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 greater than 1,500 SARs per month involving cryptocurrencies.171