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December was an exciting month for virtual currency, largely on account of the surge in bitcoin’s price. The top five best read stories for the month included a story on bitcoin’s dramatic price rise, but they also included some "basic" stories about virtual currency, reflecting the need for "nuts and bolts" information about the still young industry.
In addition to bitcoin’s price and virtual currency basics, readers were interested in stories about new applications for blockchain technology, such as how it is being used to support cybersecurity for 3D printing, how it is supporting a new private equity fund, and how it is supporting identity management.
Following are December's five best read stories.
“Bitcoin for beginners 101,” which posted on Mar. 21 of 2016, was the best read story in December, demonstrating the fact that many people are still learning about bitcoin. The article gave an overview of how to use bitcoin, bitcoin’s volatility, the need for a bitcoin wallet, the basics of its underlying blockchain technology, and the need to stay up to date with new developments.
The second most popular story was from Sept. 19, 2016 and was the most popular story in November.
This past July, the bitcoin mining reward was cut in half from 25 bitcoins to 12.5 bitcoins. It marked the first such reward halving since 2012. Hence, it is no surprise that an article examining mining profitability has drawn strong reader interest nearly every month since the reward halving took place.
Bitcoin has a built-in limited supply of 21 million bitcoins, and the reward for mining is designed to be halved when every 210,000 blocks are mined.
When the mining reward was previously cut in half on Nov. 28, 2012, it had little effect on miners due to the low number of miners. Miners in 2012 were mainly individuals interested in the new virtual currency.
Since 2012, bitcoin has gained a much greater following, and more miners have become active. There was also an influx of large mining organizations.
Since the July halving, bitcoin mining is still profitable, even though competition is getting tighter due to the growing demand for bitcoin.
The third most popular story reported the deployment of a blockchain network to protect the digital data stream for additively manufactured aerospace titanium parts. Cubichain, which develops anti-counterfeiting tools for Web 4.0, and CalRAM LLC, which provides metal powder bed fusion for aerospace and space applications, announced the deployment.
Using the MultiChain private blockchain platform, based on bitcoin technology, Cubichain Technologies is developing an application that interfaces with the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry processes to encrypt digital data associated with the binary part definition, then store the information on a private blockchain.
4. How to avoid beginner's mistakes with bitcoin (two-way tie)
It certainly was no surprise that a story about bitcoin’s price surge placed among the best read stories in December. The Dec. 16 story on bitcoin’s price gain surpassing all other currencies in 2016 summarized the factors behind bitcoin’s popularity in the fourth quarter.
The leading factors cited were China's crackdown on the yuan, isolationist rumblings in the US and the UK, and increasing overall acceptance.
Bitcoin’s price surged 79 percent since the start of 2016 to $778 in mid December, its highest level since early 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg indicated. That’s four times the gains posted by Russia's ruble and Brazil's real, the world’s top two fiat currencies.
The May 30, 2016 story on how to avoid beginners’ mistakes with bitcoin noted the five following mistakes: 1) getting bogged down with technical details, 2) becoming confused about bitcoin wallets, 3) engaging in questionable transactions, 4) becoming overwhelmed by volatility, and 5) not seeking out other members in the community.
5. Blockchain tech powers identity management (two-way tie)
The Nov. 29 article on entrepreneurs Jason Granger and Charlie Shrem launching a private equity fund powered by the Ethereum blockchain demonstrated growing interest in Ethereum, one of the fastest growing blockchains. Blockchain technology will be used to facilitate and administer the decentralized fund, which includes token purchasing, dividend payouts and dissemination of investor information.
The Aug. 10, 2015 article on identity management continues to be one of the best-read articles. In November 2016, it tied for second place with a story about another use case, tracking food.
Blockchain technology can enable entities independent of each other to rely on the same shared, secure and auditable source of information to manage individual identities.
The article reviewed how several companies are working with the technology to create new tools for identity management.