You can buy Bitcoin this morning for $9,500 on Luxembourg's Bitsmap exchange. But where it will be by the end of the day or month is anybody's guess right now. In the past 48 hours it hit a record high of $11,395, fell back to $9,250 and then surged back to $11,000 yesterday before plunging once more, back to $9,000. Supporters say Blockchain - the technology that powers Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Litecoin - could revolutionise the global payments system.
Marieke Flament, Europe managing director of financial technology company Circle, explains that bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency that has existed on Blockchain technology, so the two are very interestingly linked. She added that much more things can be done on the Blockchain technology apart from cryptocurrencies.
Warnings have come on Bitcoin from the likes of the ECB's Victor Constancio, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan and Lloyd Blankfein, the boss of Goldman Sachs, who called it a vehicle for fraudsters. Marieke Flament said that Bitcoin often has a bad reputation and yet Blockchain is described as a wonderful, fantastic technology. She said that what is damaging is that people don't understand the underlying technology and power of it, but added that Blockchain, in essence, is a way to decentralise capabilities.
Ms Flament said the way finance works today is very far from the way the internet works - people are used to sending messages to each other for free and with absolutely no delay and in a global fashion. Yet money does not work that way. But Ms Flament says that as money is just data, it should be able to operate in the same way - and that can be empowered by the use of Blockchain. This will enable consumers to get the same seamless experience in transferring money globally as sending an email.
Likening it to the very early stages of the internet, Ms Flament says that something "weird" is going on
with Bitcoin, but the underlying technology behind it is very "solid and very true". There is a long way to go with Blockchain technology, she added.
MORNING BRIEFS - Activity in the manufacturing sector surged in November to its highest level this century. According to the latest Purchasing Managers' Index from Investec, a monthly gauge of sentiment and activity among manufacturers, there was a marked pick-up in growth in output, new orders and employment. The PMI registered its strongest reading since December 1999. Growth in new orders was particularly strong and the PMI also registered a substantial pick-up in export business from a range of markets.
*** An ambitious tax plan that would see the headline rate of taxation on corporations in the US cut from 35% to 20% hit a snag last night on Capitol Hill as new bipartisan analysis suggested it will not provide a big enough boost to economic growth to pay for the tax revenue lost. A report by the Joint Committee on Tax, a body composed of both Republicans and Democrats from both houses of Congress and supported by a professional staff of economists, lawyers and accountants, estimates the Tax Cut and Jobs will fall about $1 trillion short of paying for itself over a decade.
*** The company behind chicken restaurant chain Nando's has today reported a near 30% drop in profit for the year to the end of February, according to accounts filed with the companies office. Revenue was ahead by €1.5m to €22.7m at the 12 Nando's outlets here and the company says it is looking for new sites.