It's been about a decade since Bitcoin burst into the public consciousness. And given its initial criminal conspiracy, its volatility, the feuds, the regulation issues and the incessant Bitcoin clobbering meted out by certain Finance incumbents that shall remain unnamed, any reasonable person would expect Bitcoin to be down and out by now.
Yet, there is it, alive and kicking. In fact, Bitcoin is positively thriving.
Bitcoin is here to stay for the same reasons budget airlines, Uber and Agoda are here to stay. What these disrupters have in common is that they're too good to not become established.
Sooner or later, Bitcoin will be the way payments are made and accepted. It won't necessarily displace banks, credit card companies or wire services - after all, we still have regular airlines, regular taxi companies and regular travel agencies - but old school industries had better learn to live with new economy disruptors. Or risk going the way of dinosaurs.
But let's backtrack a little. After all, not everyone is in the know of what Bitcoin is. So what is Bitcoin? Where did it come from? And just how good is it?
Bitcoin is what's known as a virtual currency. You may also know it as a cryptocurrency or a digital currency. These are all different names for essentially the same thing, Bitcoin.
Bitcoin was conceived by Satoshi Nakamoto, who may or may not really exist, this is not known, because upon releasing Bitcoin's prototype into the wild, Satoshi, the man, woman or group, vanished into thin air, never to be heard from again.
But his brainchild has more than made up for it; not a day goes by without it being mentioned for one reason or another.
But how is Bitcoin different from the usual money we use every day? What's so good about Bitcoin that it can compete or even displace our normal money?
Normal money, a.k.a. fiat money, is issued by a central bank, basically that particular nation's government. The money is subsequently disseminated by private banks. And these two, government and banks, tend to need each other to ensure money liquidity is just right, not too much, not too little, to keep the country's economy humming along nicely.
The upshot of this system is that - by design - money is governed by an intermediary, a bank, a credit card company, PayPal, Western Union etc. It is a trusted system, which means that there's a third party required to run the show, a third party the money's users, i.e. the public at large, trust.
And this is where the problems start.
In a nutshell, in this trusted system, we've seen time and time again that the public at large end up with the short end of the stick. Be it the numerous demonetization exercises populations have been subjected to, the perpetual inflation of fiat through government sanctioned QE, or the wholesale abuse of private banks the likes of Lehman Brothers, typically, it's the public at large that ends up praying the price.
Bitcoin is a peer to peer trustless payment system that's immune to corruption and fraud. Thanks to Bitcoin's Blockchain protocol, its distributed ledger, there's no need for an intermediary to run the show. Bitcoin runs its own show. It's self-auditing. In fact, Bitcoin is essentially audited every 10 minutes. Any cheating attempts will be discovered almost instantly, courtesy of Bitcoin's thousands of miners and nodes, the heart and soul of Bitcoin.
This is what makes Bitcoin so revolutionary. It's secure, immutable, uncensorable, yet at the same time it's public and fully transparent.
And since there's no need for an intermediary third party, money transfers are much faster and much cheaper. Case in point: a peer to peer international Bitcoin transfer can be completed in mere minutes and should cost considerably less than 1 dollar.
Banks, on the other hand, may take up to a week or more to fulfil a telegraphic transfer and may well charge up to 20 dollars or more. In fact, money wire companies charge even higher. Not to mention the way such clearing companies also create revenue for themselves from the less than ideal currency conversion rate they levy upon their hapless customers.
In view of above, clearly, Bitcoin is the way forward.
But Bitcoin has more tricks up its sleeve. Another of its strengths is that the number of Bitcoin ever to be in circulation cannot and will not exceed 21 million. This has been hard-coded into its program and it will ensure that it's not only impervious to inflation, but this finite nature also renders Bitcoin a superb store of value.
In fact, it's for this reason that Bitcoin has been called a safe haven investment. In some quarters, Bitcoin is even referred to as Gold 2.0, because it's not just similar to gold but in a number of ways it's actually better than gold.
Now, it has to be said that Bitcoin is still in its infancy. As such, it's not perfect just yet. It's code, for example hasn't yet been running on all 12 cylinders, given that its user base is a moving target.
Also, in order to gain broad acceptance, it needs to be more regulated by the respective countries. Sure, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, and other nations, have already given Bitcoin their nod. But there are still quite a few nations that are currently sitting on the fence.
Most nations, however, look favorably on Bitcoin's potential to stimulate job growth, spur FinTech innovation and generally create a lot of good.
When something as good as Bitcoin comes along, it's only a matter if time before it sweeps the world.
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I wrote the above article myself and it expresses my own personal opinions and views on Bitcoin. I am unable to guarantee that the information and/or results will be correct. Furthermore, I do not receive compensation for my writing and I have no business relationship with any of the companies mentioned in above article. In addition, I am not an investment advisor and above article is for purely informational purposes. Investors are advised to personally undertake adequate due diligence, or to consult a financial advisor in order to determine what assets - if any - are appropriate to invest in.
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