Illustration by Jason Reed

Why is Bitcoin surging?

The most popular cryptocurrency keeps growing.


David Gilmour


Published Nov 1, 2016   Updated Feb 28, 2020, 9:24 pm CST

In what has appeared to be quite a resurgence, October saw Bitcoin reach values close to its 2016 post-Brexit peak.

Opening on Oct. 1, one bitcoin was worth $614. Throughout the month, bitcoin trade value surged to $716, a dramatic climb of 16.6 percent.

Bitcoin Price Index Chart October

Bitcoin Price Index Chart October

Photo via CoinDesk

This year has been a particularly turbulent one for the cryptocurrency, though it has not just survived but continued to grow. A highlight for Bitcoin came as Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union was announced. Bitcoin spiked in value as much as other world currencies dropped away. 

Bitcoin Price Index 2016, including Brexit spike in June

Bitcoin Price Index 2016, including Brexit spike in June

Photo via CoinDesk

Investors were jubilant to see the currency’s stability in the face of the kind of uncertainty that strained the British pound.

Behind the scenes, however, Bitcoin has had to overcome a host of difficulties. A bitter internal “civil war” that has lasted longer than a year still threatens to split the currency in two, and sparked a public debate about about how to scale the technology and the future.

At the same time, alternative blockchain startups looked to grab a stake in the market. One notable rival is Zcash, which prioritizes transaction anonymity and utilizes its own unique blockchain—the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies—was launched last week, causing some market volatility.

Still, the cause of October’s pre-eminent rise in value remains a bit of a mystery. There are two dominant theories circulating online.

The first involves the Chinese yuan. China’s national currency is trading at its lowest in six years. Over the last four weeks, through October, the yuan has continued to depreciate against the dollar, and it’s believed that Chinese investors are hedging their money in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to offset potential losses. This would drive Bitcoin’s value higher.

The second theory surmises that a restored faith in Bitcoin itself, rather than market circumstance, has prompted investment. A recent report by Needham and Co. called Bitcoin “digital gold,” highlighting not only its increasing stability but its long-term potential as a global payment utility.

Either way, despite challenges and growing pains, Bitcoin appears as lucrative as ever, and, as trading opens this morning, the trends look set to continue into November.

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*First Published: Nov 1, 2016, 10:11 am CDT