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Crypto world descends on New York as bitcoin makes come back

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A message on a vendor's booth is seen on display at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City, New York, U.S., May 16, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar

Cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and investors from around the world are meeting in New York this week for one of the industry’s biggest events.

The Consensus conference, organised by crypto news website CoinDesk, takes place during the first three days of this week. The event, which is expected to draw thousands of attendees, coincides with New York Blockchain Week.

The backdrop to the conference is a recovery for cryptocurrency prices so far this year.

Bitcoin (BTC-USD) has risen over 80% since the start of the year, making it “one of the strongest asset classes so far in 2019,” Simon Peters, an analyst at trading platform eToro, said in an email on Friday.

Bitcoin's price rise so far in 2019. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

The rally has been spurred by signs that big corporates are interested in using cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

JPMorgan, whose CEO famously slammed bitcoin as a fraud, announced in February that it was launching its own cryptocurrency for internal payments dubbed “JPM Coin.” JPMorgan head of blockchain Umar Farooq told Yahoo Finance UK at the time that clients had been asking for the product.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have both also reported that Facebook is secretly working on a cryptocurrency-powered payment product.

Sustained corporate interest is reflected in Consensus’ list of sponsors. As well as crypto companies, major financials such as Citi bank and Fidelity have backed the event, as well as tech giants like Microsoft, IBM, Amazon Web Services, and eBay. Representatives from these businesses will also be speaking at the event.

Bitcoin’s price recovery follows a volatile two years for the cryptocurrency, which is the largest by market value and seen as a bell-weather for the sector.

Bitcoin surged by over 1,800% in 2017 to a high of close to $20,000. The price spike was driven by a rush of speculation and hysteria over how cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology that underpins it could be used to change the world.

However, the price swiftly crashed in 2018 as detractors pointed out flaws, mainstream adoption stalled, and retail investors hoping to make a quick buck sold out en mass.

The mild recovery in 2019 could be a sign that bitcoin is following the classic Gartner hype cycle and may be coming out of the trough of disillusionment.

Bitcoin is currently trading around $7,000, a far cry from its all-time high but also well above the low of $3,255 reached last year. The broader cryptocurrency market has followed a similar trajectory. Crypto fans at Consensus will likely be heartened by the direction of travel.

Yahoo Finance UK will be reporting from Consensus in New York this week. Check back for all the latest.


Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at @OscarWGrut.

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