This week in bitcoin: Even as price slumps, bitcoin companies push global agenda

This week’s bitcoin review looks at how Coinbase and Circle are expanding overseas.

Has the domestic bitcoin wallet market busted?

One of the biggest events in cryptocurrency this week Circle, one of the giants in the bitcoin world, emerging from beta and opening up to the public. However, instead of taking the common U.S.-only approach out the gate, the wallet company started with seven languages and a global audience ready to use it.

Also expanding this week was wallet service and payments provider Coinbase, which competes against the likes of Circle and Blockchain. Coinbase had already expanded to 13 European countries, but added another five to its tally yesterday: Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Poland.

Expanding internationally isn’t unusual for bitcoin companies — companies that embrace bitcoin have been slowly expanding this summer for opening up payments to a global audience. However, it could be positioning bitcoin as another option for international remittances outside of using traditional banking services.

Crypto-sibling Ripple, which has its own payments protocol, also recently signed on two U.S. banks and a European one to link the continent’s financial networks together. With Apple Pay on the horizon, it makes sense to develop bitcoin as a global product rather than focus on the US where Apple Pay could gain a foothold faster than bitcoin has. International remittances aren’t the explicit purpose for Coinbase or Circle — however it may be one of the key advantages their products would have over Apple Pay.

The market this week

The price may have started above $400, but the market has fallen back down after the PayPal acceptance news from last week. PayPal splitting up from eBay seemed to have no effect on the market as the industry tries to piece together what’s happening with the falling price. The market closed Friday at $356.56 and has since fallen another six percent to $334.15 as of 10:45am PT.
For background on why we’re using Coindesk’s Bitcoin Price Index, see the note at the bottom of the post. 

In other news we wrote about this week:

Here are some of the best reads from around the web this week:

  • “Bitcoin is worth a makeover” argued Coinbase’s founders in an in-depth piece in Bloomberg. It’s a good overview of bitcoin’s features for beginners — and also a reality check for industry leaders.
  • Just because the Silk Road was shut down doesn’t mean darknet markets have also shuttered. According to The Atlantic, the markets (and their use of bitcoin) are still booming.
  • Bitcoin may find a home in college campuses where tech-savvy students are accustomed to using digital currencies in the form of meal points. While MIT has taken similar steps to incorporate bitcoin on campus, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) has integrated the digital currency into students’ campus cards.
  • Why does Bill Gates like bitcoin? “It’s cheap.”

Bitcoin in 2014

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The history of bitcoin’s price

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A note on our data: We use CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index to obtain both a historical and current reflection of the Bitcoin market. The BPI is an average of the four Bitcoin exchanges which meet their criteria: Bitstamp, BTC-e, LakeBTC and Bitfinex. To see the criteria for inclusion or for price updates by the minute, visit CoinDesk. Since the market never closes, the “closing price” as noted in the graphics is based on end of day Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or British Summer Time (BST). 

Disclosure: I currently own a very small amount of bitcoin for product testing purposes.