Digital currencies Bitcoin and Ethereum, the #1 and #2 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, both drifted downward in weekend and early Monday trading. One Bitcoin trades for $646.57 this morning, down 0.17%. An Ether trades for $10.39, down 5.02%. Also popular alternative currency Litecoin trades for $4.08, down 0.87%.
This surprised some industry watchers, who expected Saturday's Bitcoin block halving to put new buy pressure on the currency.
As programmed within Bitcoin's software, the block reward subsidy for miners who "solve" a block successfully is scheduled to reduce by 50% every 210,000 blocks, which happens roughly every four years.
The last Bitcoin block halving before Saturday's occurred in 2012, dropping the 50 Bitcoins per block subsidy to 25 Bitcoins per block where it has remained until Saturday, when as programmed the reward was slashed from 25 to 12.5 Bitcoins per block.
Ultimately, however, the major cryptocurrency exchanges essentially shrugged in response to the halving event. 24 hour trading volume of Bitcoin, $100.2 million, and of Ethereum, $10.6 million, are both certainly well within recent normal bounds and nothing extraordinary.
HOW TO GET INTO ETHER & BITCOIN?
I frequently get asked this, and it's happening more and more often now that my YouTube videos on both currencies are increasing in viewership.
I'd recommend trying Coinbase to buy your first batch of Bitcoin. The San Francisco-based cryptocurrency services firm has more than 4 million customers, services 32 countries, and in my experience is the best overall way to buy Bitcoin with a debit card or linked bank account. From there, you can trade part of your Bitcoin balance on their platform for Ether, or from Ether back into Bitcoin, over at exchange.coinbase.com.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH ETHEREUM THAT YOU CAN'T DO WITH BITCOIN?
Another frequently asked question lately. Of course we are at a stage where Bitcoin and Ethereum are still both so new - Bitcoin launched in 2009, Ethereum a year ago - that we probably can't envision all, or even most, of the ways they will eventually be used by individuals, businesses, and one day even governments.
With that said, by following the various developer communities for these technologies, you can get a sense of what is now - or in the near future - going to be technically feasible on the blockchain. My video below shows some of the early use cases for Ethereum that appear to differentiate it from Bitcoin. (Special thanks to ether.camp for some of the data highlighted.)
Full disclosure: Not financial advice, provided for educational purposes only. Also not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any cryptocurrency or asset. At time of publication, I do hold some bitcoins and ethers in my long term portfolio.