Members of the mainstream media love to keep close tabs on the price of bitcoin, the digital currency held within the Bitcoin system. Often, journalists and their respective publishing platforms choose periods of high bitcoin price volatility within which to comment on the perceived state of Bitcoin. Unfortunately, this chosen style of reporting on Bitcoin tends to produce misleading headlines such as those witnessed during the last several days. Amid the latest upswing in the price of bitcoin1, notable headlines have included “Bitcoin Surges, Emerging From a Lull in Interest”2, “Bitcoin Frenzy Back As Epic Bust Fades”3 and even simply “Bitcoin is Going Nuts”4. Contrary to these headlines, no, Bitcoin is not emerging from a lull in interest or “going nuts”. Furthermore, the price of Bitcoin should not be the primary measure of the state of Bitcoin, nor should any one metric be the primary measure of the state of Bitcoin. The true measure of the state of Bitcoin is a combination of everything, from activity in GitHub repositories to the number of daily bitcoin transactions, and everything in between. Let’s take a closer look at some of these other metrics to get closer to a true measure of Bitcoin adoption.
Within the Bitcoin Core GitHub repository (https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin) we can take a look at the repository’s “pulse” and find that over the past month there have been 4,425 additions to the master branch, compared to 1,228 deletions5. Authors have also pushed 128 commits to the master branch and 385 commits to all branches. This tells me there has been a significant amount of interest in the Bitcoin Core code over the entire past month, even when the price of bitcoin was close to $200 lower than its current price. Furthermore, this is only taking into account the Bitcoin Core GitHub repository and not all of the other side projects in the Bitcoin realm.
Now let’s take a look at the estimated bitcoin transaction volume over the past month. Types of transactions the factor into the estimated transaction volume include transactions such as transfers of payments and not just the buying of selling and bitcoin. According to Blockchain (https://blockchain.info), a leading source of Bitcoin data, the estimated bitcoin transaction volume has experienced several ups and downs over the past month and has spiked at about the same time as the price of bitcoin6. However, the estimated transaction volume spiked several times over the past month while the price of bitcoin did not, and this attracted no attention from the mainstream media.
As a matter of fact, Pantera Capital has already created a “Bitindex” that incorporates these two metrics, among several others7. Taken straight from Pantera’s Bitindex page, “Visibility usually means media coverage, public awareness, and, in the case of Bitcoin, price and regulation. However, Bitcoin’s long-term success is more tied to growth in adoption and to the development of applications intended to encourage both merchants and consumers to want to use bitcoins.” Pantera’s Bitindex has been steadily rising ever since early 2014, with minimal volatility in more recent months. The Bitindex has been scarcely mentioned by the mainstream media since its creation.
Source: Pantera Capital8
Bitcoin and its underlying block chain technology, as well as various distributed ledger technologies such as Ripple (https://ripple.com/), have continued to garner media attention in recent months for a multitude of positive development in the industry. More often than not, these development have nothing to do with movements in the price of bitcoin or other digital currencies held within block chain or distributed ledger systems. If only the mainstream media would pay more attention to these other metrics rather than simply the price of bitcoin, maybe the public would have a more informed perception of Bitcoin’s success.