Finance and Beyond: An Infographic Map of Bitcoin and the Emerging Blockchain Ecosystem

This popular article and its infographic, originally published
on November 15, 2015, have been updated by Michael Gord to reflect
the major developments since then in the world of Bitcoin and
blockchain. I

n the fall of 2015, BitPay and BTC Media (parent company

Bitcoin Magazine
) commissioned Josh Dykgraaf, an artist based in Amsterdam who
specializes in 3D and photo illustrations, to design an infograph
as a guide to navigating the emerging Bitcoin and blockchain
ecosystem. The infographic has been so popular, and the growth in
the ecosystem so dynamic, that BTC Media commissioned Dykgraaf to
create an updated poster which made its debut in March at SXSW®,
and is available as a digital download or printed copy.

On January 3, 2009, the Genesis block, or the first block in the
Bitcoin blockchain, was created. In the coinbase parameter, there
was a simple message: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of
second bailout for banks.” From that one block, Bitcoin was

Bitcoin has come a long way from that initial statement by
Bitcoin’s pseudonymous founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. The technology is
growing up and changing, from its early days as a project adopted
by impassioned technologists and libertarians to a technology
widely researched and used by financial institutions worldwide.

Bitcoin had a rough road ahead of it, as did many early
technologies, including the Internet. It dealt with newspaper
headlines lambasting Bitcoin because of its connection to Silk Road
and drugs. Early adopters suffered millions of dollars in losses
when early exchange Mt. Gox imploded. “Bitcoin is Dead,” many

And yet, as Bitcoin approaches its eighth birthday, we see
things changing. It is turning into that curious, wide-eyed
technology with ideas as widespread as any normal eight-year-old.
Cross-border payments, machine-to-machine transactions, smart
contracts, microtransactions and stock settlements all have been
discussed and developed. Nothing is off limits; no question goes

From the early days of mining using a laptop computer, now
Bitcoin miners have industrial-sized data centers with hundreds of
thousands of high-powered, specialized machines. In January 2014,

Bitcoin network hashrate

was only 10 million GH/s. Today, it is more than 1 billion GH/s and
growing quickly as new mining machines are built and sold. Around
January 2014, there were around 50,000 Bitcoin transactions daily.
That measure of network utility has increased to more than 200,000
Bitcoin transactions daily.

A big part of this growth in transactions is linked to the
growth in
Bitcoin-accepting merchants

. In mid-2014, there were approximately 65,000 merchants who
accepted Bitcoin. Now, there are more than 100,000, which
represents a 50 percent increase. TigerDirect, a publicly traded
online electronics retailer, has seen incredible results. Of all
the buyers that used Bitcoin, 46 percent of them were brand new to
TigerDirect. Further, orders placed with Bitcoin were 30 percent

BitPay, a Bitcoin payment processor, also has seen a significant
increase in volume. It announced in a
blog post

written at the beginning of 2016 that it has experienced a
transactional increase of 50 percent in the last two months and an
increase of 110 percent in the past 12 months. BitPay also saw
record-breaking months for Bitcoin transactions in November and
December of 2015, with more than 100,000 BitPay invoices processed
each month. BitPay explains in the post, “At these rates, every 25
seconds a shopper somewhere in the world was spending Bitcoin at a
BitPay merchant.” In Latin America, total transactions were up
1,747 percent in 2015.  Bitcoin as a tool of transaction is

Bitcoin as an asset class is also maturing. For the majority of
2015, the price stayed relatively nonvolatile and constant,
fluctuating between $200 and $300. It was only toward the end of
2015 that the price experienced a significant increase, reminiscent
of the early years, to finish the year as the world’s top
performing currency (down from -67 percent in 2014 to +35 percent
in 2015). From January 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014, the price went
from $13.41 to $808.05, going as high as $1,147.25 on December 4.
Just one month earlier, on November 4, 2013, the price was $225.20.
Even the “bubbles” in Bitcoin are maturing. On the other hand, the
market cap of Bitcoin is down from an all-time high of nearly $14
billion to around $6.5 billion at the time of writing.

Venture capital funding continues to pour into the space. In
2013, Bitcoin companies raised only $93.8 million. In 2014, firms
raised $314.7 million. In 2015, Bitcoin and blockchain companies
raised more than $1 billion.

Regulations are also changing. Before, there were politicians
decrying Bitcoin because of its use on the underground marketplace
Silk Road. Now, organizations such as Coin Center and the Chamber
of Digital Commerce work to help these politicians and regulators
draft rules that will ensure Bitcoin can continue to grow
worldwide. New York has led the regulatory charge with its recent
BitLicense initiative. The European Union also recently ruled that
Bitcoin was not subject to VAT, providing significant clarity for
those participating in the ecosystem.

Finally, the development of blockchain companies and enterprise
solutions continues to grow. In 2015, Bitcoin and blockchain
enterprise development generated over $1 billion in capital
investments, with the first quarter of the year surpassing the
total amount of funding for the entire previous 12 months. To date,
more than 65 banks and financial institutions have made investments
in the industry, and businesses in diverse fields ranging from
health care to insurance to global supply chain trade networks have
entered the arena.

The year 2016 has seen Augur, a decentralized prediction market,
announce that it had raised $5.1 million in a crowdsale. Ethereum,
the smart contract and publishing platform, raised $18.4 million in
its own crowdsale. It is expected that OpenBazaar, the completely
decentralized peer-to-peer ecommerce site, will launch in the
coming months. Blockchain technology is rapidly ushering in a new
world of data integrity that will impact industry and commerce on a
magnitude comparable to the dawning of the Internet.

Bitcoin is not just on the fringes anymore; it is becoming
mainstream. Whether it’s miners, payment processors, wallets,
developer tools, large-enterprise blockchain solutions or
innovative new fintech accelerators, the reality is simple. Bitcoin
and its blockchain are growing up. And the future they are opening
to the world is as vast as that unlocked by any of the greatest
technologies in history.

mm – leading Bitcoin News source since 2012

Virtual currency is not legal tender, is not backed by the government, and accounts and value balances are not subject to consumer protections. The information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest.