Well, not exactly free. It does require you to do some work.
All you need to do is solve this:
Source: Instagram, andybauch
[Click to enlarge]
The above is an art piece by Los Angeles LEGO artist Andy Bauch. Yep, it’s made from lego bricks, that is, toy construction blocks.
And yes, there is bitcoin hidden behind this art. The above is a visual representation of his secret crypto wallet code.
The piece is part of his exhibition called New Money, which questions the value of money and its fragility.
As he told Artsy:
‘I am attempting to help those without computer science backgrounds visualize and understand the rather abstract concept of cryptocurrencies and simultaneous [sic] democratizing the potential and volatility that comes along with them.’
As Bauch told Gizmodo, he bought several cryptos and put them in individual wallets. Each piece in the series has a secret key embedded for each wallet. In total, there is about US$10,000 in crypto. Yet knowing cryptocurrencies this could be worth a lot more (or less) tomorrow.
Break the key, and the crypto in the wallet is yours.
The title of each artwork tells you what type of crypto there is in the wallet and the value at the time he bought it. In the case of the artwork displayed above, it contains a bitcoin, initially valued at US$80.
As we all know, bitcoin is worth much more today.
At time of writing, bitcoin is worth about US$6,750.
It is trading much lower than at the beginning of the year, when it was selling for around US$16,000.
Or December 2017, when it was close to US$20,000.
The value today, looks quite meagre compared to back then.
Yet, if you think about it at this time last year, bitcoin was trading at around US$1,135. That is still an almost 500% gain in the last 12 months…even with the recent drop.
But, the recent fall has caused the general public to lose interest.
You barely hear much about bitcoin lately. The excitement from the end of 2017 is pretty much gone.
I mean, you can even see it in the Google searches. As you can see in the graph below, there was a surge in interest around November, and it has tapered off since.
Source: Google Trends
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Bitcoin is down about 50% since the beginning of the year.
Why is Bitcoin down in 2018?
Part of the reason for the price slump is concerns that the currency could be facing a regulatory clampdown.
And that some of the large tech companies have been shutting advertising down.
A couple of weeks ago Twitter [NYSE: TWTR] banned crypto ads, and Facebook [NASDAQ:FB] and Google [NASDAQ:GOOGL] barred initial coin offerings (ICOs) and token sale ads.
Yet while the general public has been losing interest, bitcoin has been gaining attention from regulators.
France is looking at legislation to regulate ICOs, as it doesn’t want to miss out on the ‘blockchain revolution’.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently said that any platform offering ‘trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an “exchange”, as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC.’
And it has also been getting interest from private companies.
Last December, the Chicago Board of Options Exchange and its rival, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group, launched bitcoin futures.
Goldman Sachs got into the space by backing start-up company Circle.
Circle has recently acquired Poloniex, one of the largest crypto exchanges. They have also launched Circle Invest, an app which allows users to invest and trade in crypto.
Following on Goldman’s steps, this week Monex Group has announced it is looking at taking over Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck.
If the name Coincheck sounds familiar to you, it’s because they suffered one of the biggest crypto heists in history back in January. Hackers walked off with about US$530 million worth of NEM coins, a much bigger bounty than the one stolen from Mt.Gox in 2014.
Yet, differently to Mt.Gox, Coincheck has not filed for bankruptcy. And what’s more, they have repaid around US$435 million to the victims of the hack.
Monex Group is a Japanese financial services company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
They own TradeStation, a US online brokerage. Tradestation was also one of the first to offer bitcoin futures from CBOE World Markets and CME Group. They have also partnered up with crypto exchange GDAX to market data on cryptos in real time.
Private companies and regulators are starting to acknowledge the crypto space, and some are getting involved.
Is this the start of mainstream adoption?
Editor, Markets & Money