Experts split over future course of popular virtual coin
By Jhoo Dong-chan
Bitcoin, the most widely used virtual coin, rose above the 9.8 million won ($8,240) mark, Thursday. The price jumped over 1.3 million won in a week.
However, outlooks are divided as to whether bitcoin will continue its upward momentum throughout the year.
According to online cryptocurrency information service provider coinmarketcap.com, Thursday, bitcoin's price hovered over 9.8 million won per coin, up 2.96 percent from the day before.
The virtual coin price has yet to recover to its all-time high of over 20 million won when the bitcoin frenzy struck the country in early 2018, but managed to double in its value since the start of the year.
The comeback is attributed to two major developments ― one from Microsoft and the other from Bakkt. Bakkt is a futures exchange for bitcoin, operated by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). ICE operates 12 regulated exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange equity options exchanges.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced its plan to introduce its decentralized Project Ion on the bitcoin blockchain soon. Ion is an open source project that allows firms and apps to converse with each other more easily and securely.
Separate from the announcement from Microsoft, Bakkt CEO Kelly Loefller said the bitcoin futures contract is anticipated to go into effect in July on federal regulated exchanges.
"ICE has officially filed for bitcoin futures approval with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)," Loefller said in her blog post, Tuesday.
Loeffler's announcement immediately led to a massive rally in the virtual coin market here.
According to the nation's largest crypto exchange Bithumb, bitcoin was traded at 9.79 million won per coin as of 10 p.m. Thursday, up 2.68 percent from its price 24 hours prior.
"Blockchain and virtual coins will be one of the centerpieces in future technologies," former Gifto Korea CEO Park Dong-hui said.
"Prices of virtual coins, including bitcoin, are relatively low at the moment compared their peak in December 2017, but I believe the prices will bounce back to that level once blockchain technology starts being widely used in our daily lives."
KB Financial Group Digital Strategy Department General Manager Park Hyoung-joo, however, displayed his skepticism in the future course of virtual coins.
"What really matters is practicality," he said.
"Existing technologies are good enough to provide necessary services for financial customers. If blockchain technology fails to demonstrate its absolute necessity in practical life, virtual coins, including bitcoin, won't be able to sustain their current rally throughout the year."