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How Bitcoin Grew Even Stronger In 2020

Bitcoin’s technical developments, incoming class of noobs and (of course) the price were strong in 2020, setting up for a stronger 2021.
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Bitcoin’s technical developments, incoming class of noobs and (of course) the price were strong in 2020, setting up for a stronger 2021.

Bitcoin’s technical developments, incoming class of noobs and (of course) the price were strong in 2020, setting up for a stronger 2021.

2020 was unforgettable, especially for Bitcoin. To help memorialize this year for our readers, we asked our network of contributors to reflect on Bitcoin’s price action, technological development, community growth and more in 2020, and to reflect on what all of this might mean for 2021. These writers responded with a collection of thoughtful and thought-provoking articles. Click here to read all of the stories from our End Of Year 2020 Series.

For most people, 2020 was one of the most challenging years in recent memory. The entire world was shaken by the COVID-19 epidemic (or scamdemic, if you’re so inclined). 

The corporate press blanketed the public with stories of death and full intensive-care units. In response to COVID-19, governments around the world shut down businesses and schools, plunging the economy into a recession and mass unemployment. Even 11 months into this crisis, many jurisdictions are still on lockdown. And if that wasn’t enough, political tensions are at an all-time high, culminating in a presidential election that has drawn sharp allegations of voter fraud. No matter who you are, there’s a reason to dislike this entire year. 

Except if you’re a bitcoiner.

For bitcoiners, 2020 was yet another win in a long series of victories, as we walk the path from novelty project to the future global reserve currency. Every aspect of the Bitcoin ecosystem grew stronger this year; the code, the community and the price. For someone that was already bullish at the beginning of 2020, it’s hard not to be even more optimistic at the prospects for 2021. 

Bitcoin’s Technical Progress In 2020

From a technical standpoint, 2020 produced the greatest progress since the adoption of Segregated Witness in 2017, thanks to the merger of Taproot into the Bitcoin Core codebase this October. 

Although it hasn’t been deployed to the network yet, and we still haven’t seen any real-world applications, the promise Taproot holds is tremendous. By allowing for more expressive scripting and key/signature aggregation, Taproot improves on-chain anonymity and functionality, while making transactions more lightweight (see #TaprootWeek on Twitter to learn more from @benthecarman). Like SegWit, it might take a few years for nodes to upgrade and for wallets to take full advantage of these benefits, but the foundation has been laid. 

Even outside of the Core codebase, we’re seeing exciting technical developments. Although multisignature has been a feature of Bitcoin for years now, the past one to two years has seen it get easier and easier to use. Unchained Capital released its open-source Caravan multisig coordinator, so easy even a drunk American HODL could use it to bet 1 BTC on the U.S. presidential election with podcaster Peter McCormack. 

More recently, the Specter and Nunchuk applications are making multisig simple and seamless. 

Similarly, the Lightning Network continues to make progress. Anyone who has used it in the past remembers the feeling of payments failing to find a route, but that is becoming less and less common as liquidity on the network grows. 

Lightning Labs recently launched Lightning Pool, a non-custodial, peer-to-peer marketplace to buy and sell channels, allowing for the more efficient deployment of capital. Furthermore, one of the most exciting Bitcoin products in years arrived in 2020, courtesy of Forbes “30 Under 30” list member Jack Mallers. Using his new application, Strike wallet, you can seamlessly spend fiat to purchase anything over the Lightning Network, thereby bringing liquidity into the system and not exposing yourself to exchange risk or tax penalties. 

The Bitcoin Class Of 2020

If Bitcoin twitter is any indication, the class of 2020 is one of our strongest in recent years. 

This can be partially attributed to price appreciation, but instead of being diverted into a slew of shitcoins as many in the class of 2017 were (no offense to those folks), many of these newcomers dove straight down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. As someone who is addicted to Twitter and on the app practically 24/7, it feels like there are dozens of new bitcoin maximalist accounts to follow each and every day. Some people may call Bitcoin Twitter an echo chamber, and perhaps it is, but the reality is that our echo chamber is growing, while the mainstream echo chamber is shrinking. 

One reason newcomers of 2020 are “getting it” so much faster than previous generations is because the ecosystem of Bitcoin content creators is stronger than ever. 

Back in 2015 and 2016, I would have weeks-long Bitcoin-free dry spells waiting on a new episode of “Bitcoin Uncensored.” Today, the content is so voluminous, it’s impossible to keep up. My podcast app is subscribed to the feeds of 37 different Bitcoin programs. That’s not an exaggeration. And every few days, someone like Robert Breedlove or Parker Lewis will drop an article with profound new insights. 

We’re even seeing the extension of Bitcoin content to the largest video platform on the internet — YouTube — which has traditionally been dominated by shitcoin pumpers and trading channels. One of the best things to come out of 2020 has been the Swan Signal channel, as well as its 24/7 Bitcoin-only network, Bitcoin TV. But it’s not the only one. Bitcoin Magazine has stepped up its game as well, hosting “Bitcoin Happy Hour” every week, alongside other independent video content creators like John Vallis and the guys at Simply Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin’s 2020 Price

Of course, the strongest indicator of bitcoin’s health is the price. After all, it’s built on NgU technology, and price is one thing that can’t easily be faked. The BTC price started the year around $7,200 (doesn’t that feel like an eternity ago?). As I’m writing this now, the price is at $19,131. 

Bitcoin has now spent more than 120 days above $10,000, smashing the previous record of 62 days from late 2017 to early 2018. More and more, this year feels like a reflection of 2016, when the price started at $430, a little more than doubling over the course of the year to $960, and ultimately setting the stage for 2017’s massive bull market. Will 2021 bear out the stock-to-flow model that tells us bull markets arrive about one year after the Halving? We’ll find out in the next 12 months. 

No matter which way you slice it, 2020 was a great year for bitcoiners. The quantity and quality of content was overwhelming, our community grew by leaps and bounds, the technical advancements will bring us incredible new features and products and, to top it all off, we’re poised for another bull run. 

Even if COVID-19 lockdowns continue through the next year, and we see more government policies that are hostile to individual liberty, I’m certain that, for Bitcoin, 2021 will shine even brighter. 

This is a guest post by Vake Raj. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.