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Aussie stocks peak to pre-COVID levels as Bitcoin booms
The Australian share market has finished marginally higher than when it started and maximally from where it has been: local stocks are now back to the levels they were prior to the pandemic.
At the close of trade the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was up 39.2 points or 0.59 per cent to 6,683 points.
The last time the market finished this high was in late February, when the word "coronavirus" was only seen in foreign stories reporting on a strange outbreak in China.
The biggest gainers of the day were miners and travel; Whitehaven Coal finished up 10.7 per cent while Flight Centre Group finished up 8.92 per cent.
In other markets, infamous cryptocurrency Bitcoin is booming: one "coin" is currently valued at more than $AUD 25,000 and is projected to shoot higher due to global unrest.
A leaked Citibank report even predicted the cryptocurrency will be worth US$318,000 (A$432,000) in a year.
The early days
After the release of the Bitcoin white paper more than a decade ago, Satoshi started a chain of emails to a cryptography mailing list, largely made up of cypherpunks — those who promote increased financial privacy — looking to spread and champion computer encryption. The early emails were met with both enthusiasm and skepticism.
“Bitcoin seems to be a very promising idea. I like the idea of basing security on the assumption that the CPU power of honest participants outweighs that of the attacker,” wrote computer programmer Hal Finney in an email exchange with the group.
It was at least two months before the blockchain and bitcoin experiment got under way with the creation of the Genesis Block, the first 50 bitcoins ever mined.
A note that accompanied the copy of the Genesis Block gave rise to the notion that bitcoin, in part, may have been a response to the financial crisis. “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks,” the message said.
However, in an interview with MarketWatch, New York University professor David Yermack, debunked this theory, but did say that the timing definitely contributed to the hype around bitcoin.
Bitcoins Genesis Block
But what were people meant to do with these bitcoins once they had been created, or mined?
“I guess the key problem right now is that once you generate coins, there’s nobody to test it with, even for dummy transactions. Is there a plan for a mailing list or some kind of trivial marketplace to give people something to do with their newly minted bitcoins?” wrote Mike Hearn, a software developer and early bitcoin developer in the cryptography email chain.
One year later, his question was answered.
First recorded transaction
While there were a number of early test transactions — the first being a transfer between Satoshi and Finney — the first documented transaction didn’t occur until 2010.
On May 22, 2010, Jacksonville programmer Laszlo Hanyecz, convinced Jeremy Sturdivant to send him two pizzas, and in return, Hanyecz would give him 10,000 bitcoin, which in today’s terms is more than $30 million per pizza. The transaction would become part of crypto folklore and May 22 will always be known as Bitcoin Pizza Day.
Eight years on, bitcoin is traded freely on more than 200 exchanges, with volume dominated by speculators hoping to make a quick buck buying and selling the most liquid cryptocurrency. There are now more than 250,000 on-ledger transactions per day, according to data from Blockchain.com.