Bitcoin is an online currency that has been on the radar for many people for the past few years. Renewed interest in the digital currency has come about though this January 2021 as the online coin’s value has skyrocketed into the new year, and peaked at just over $52,000 Australian Dollars on the 8th January 2021.
There are many speculations for the reasons behind the niche currency’s sudden peak, but rapid increases and decreases in the value of the online coin are not new. Other notable peaks occurred in 2013 and again in 2017, when Bitcoin’s price went from $5,000 USD to $10,000 USD in a matter of months.
Jump to 2021 and Bitcoin’s surging popularity has seen a meteoric 40% rise in 2021, quadrupling its value for the same quarter last year. Prices rose steadily into early January before starting a predictable steady and continuing deterioration in price.
Bitcoin dates back to 2008, when it was supposedly invented by Satoshi Nakamoto – a mysterious and as yet unconfirmed figure. The software was released at open-source in early 2009 in a transaction that took place a prearranged exchange between Nakamoto and an early Bitcoin user.
Papa John’s pizza chain in the USA was the first business to receive a real world transaction of Bitcoin in 2010. A Bitcoin miner chose to spend 10,000 bitcoins on a pizza in Florida – a transaction that would now make the pizza worth roughly $460,000,000 AUD.
At its origin the digital currency was worth less than $0.01 USD a coin at its conception at the beginning of 2010, only reaching $0.08 USD per coin in July. The value of the coin comes from its scarcity as only 21 million Bitcoins will ever be allowed to be mine. As of January 2021 there are just under 3 million coins left to mine meaning roughly 88% percent of all Bitcoins available are currently in circulation.
The value of money has been a long time mystical notion since its first conception thousands of years ago. The practice of ascribing value to objects and imbuing them with value is an almost magical practice that continues to inspire markets today from the art market to new digital currencies like bitcoin. However, the value of money, or any form of currency, relies on a collectively agreed notion of its worth from a community, without which the object is devoid of its value and made again effectively worthless.
In Malawi however, the government and national bank are struggling to encourage citizens to care and respect the national currency Kwacha. Dramatically, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has estimated an average currency loss of over 12 billion Kwacha annually from misuse by the population.
The maltreatment of the paper banknotes comes from a tendency by people to fold and place banknotes, often in wet places, causing irreparable damage to the notes. Mistreatment of the notes is said to happen most at markets – especially wet ones selling items such as fish – and more likely to occur during large celebrations such as engagement, wedding and anniversary parties according to Merlyne Yolamu, the commissioner responsible for the Central West Region.
Yolamu went on to describe the police’s role in continuing to sensitize the public to care for the national currency, and make people more aware of their responsibility in preserving the notes. In a statement she shared how: “We must spread the message on the care of currency in order to save billions of kwacha that are lost by the reserve bank annually through banknotes replacements.”
With the first credit card in use in 1946, digital banking has been steadily on the rise. As digital currency and contactless payments continue to gain traction throughout the world, it remains to be seen how long Malawi will keep paper banknotes in use before transitioning to more technological formats.
In an effort to revitalize home tourism spending after dramatic losses from the impact of COVID-19, the Singaporean government will be issuing each resident with a $100 SGN SingapoRediscovers voucher. In an announcement for further support to identified key areas, the Singaporean government described how it had allocated a 320 million SGD reserve for tourism credits to boost local tourism. The key areas identified as key to transforming Singapore’s economy in a post-COVID world were the aerospace, aviation, tourism sectors.
The SingapoRedisocvers vouchers are an integral part of the government’s scheme to inject life into the local tourism scene. It hopes that by issuing vouchers to be used as credits in local, national attractions, that the Singaporean public will connect, or reconnect with ‘their local culture and heritage, nature, art, and architecture, while at the same time supporting our tourism sector.’
The vouchers will be released to all Singaporean residents over the age of 18 and available via the Singpass from December 2020. Credits can be used until June 2021, so that’s six-months of spending time available for those lucky receivers! Credits can be spent on over 400 local itinerary trips, 200 hotels, and 40 leisure attractions, all approved by the Singapore Tourism Board.
The move comes as the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide reaches over 1 million. Whilst numbers of new cases each day are still growing exponentially in many places around the globe, Singapore has seen record lows, with only four new cases of coronavirus – the country’s lowest since March 4th 2020 with only two cases – reported on Monday 12th October. This takes Singapore’s total number of cases of the coronavirus pandemic to 57,880. Although 10 new cases of the virus were confirmed on Sunday 11th October, none of these were said to be cases of spreading within the community. All of the 10 patients had been waiting to find out their positive or negative COVID status, as they stayed in quarantine following their entry to Singapore.