Over the years, bitcoin has gone from fringe to mainstream. Once the playground for diehard developers, it has become a major topic of conversation for governments, big tech, and banks who are looking to position themselves to make a land grab.
Since the dawn of bitcoin, there’s been a power struggle between the old and the new. Bitcoin believers and skeptics have voiced their opinions about the future of the market. Believers say that bitcoin and tokenization will change everything – cheaper, faster, better – while skeptics think it’s a huge bubble, a figment of people’s imagination that should be worth zero and will eventually implode, or they say things “I like blockchain but not bitcoin, let’s separate them.”
But the conversation goes way beyond bitcoin.
It’s about what these digital economies and digital assets will look like in the future. It’s about how they will unleash a commercial and creative renaissance. It’s about how we move forward in order to avoid making mistakes in the decentralized world we are trying to build.
Are you a bitcoin believer who thinks it will change our future and make it better? Or are you a skeptic that thinks that it’s destructive to the financial system and the environment?
Ilias Louis Hatzis is the founder and CEO at Kryptonio wallet.
People say that we live in a digital age and that we should use digital money. But most of us already do.
Most of the people I know, including myself, for many years now, pay for things by pressing a button on our mobile phones or on our laptops, using a debit card, or applications like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Getting a cab, ordering food, ordering something on Amazon, when what was the last time you used cash? And if that wasn’t the case for you before the pandemic, when was the last time you used cash since Covid19 came knocking?
However, all these payment methods have one common denominator: they depend on trusting a third party.
The original promise for bitcoin, described in its whitepaper, was a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that would remove the need for trusting a third party, a system that would be independent of banks and other financial institutions.
Are banks untrustworthy? Are bitcoin transactions that much safer and cheaper? Is hyperinflation a good reason to make the switch?
We could debate these questions either way. If you’ve read my posts for the last four years you know where I stand. So let’s not have this debate.
As bitcoin goes mainstream we are still in a difficult period. We’re still talking about what bitcoin is rather than what it can do.
We talk about things like “halvings”, “forks”, “blocks”, “nodes”, …. It’s like in the very early days of the internet, when we talked about things like the TCP/IP protocol, and how data was broken into packets, addressed, transmitted, and routed. Nobody would understand what the hell we were talking about.
The truth is that bitcoin has been around a long time — 13 years. We need to change the conversation.
We need to stop talking about technology and power struggles – “bitcoin killing banks” – and we need to start talking about what bitcoin can do, what the world will look like if it actually works, and what we need to do to make it happen.
I think when we look at it from that perspective, any skeptic will become a believer with a dose of skepticism.
The internet is a technology for sharing information. While it’s easy to copy and share things, it’s hard for the creators to profit from the information they create. When you think of Napster or Megaupload, everyone could copy each other’s movies and music, but the creators that actually made it couldn’t make money when it was shared.
This is where bitcoin comes in.
Bitcoin adds to the internet an ownership layer, where you can buy and sell things easily. It verifies the ownership, uniqueness, and transaction history of digital goods. If we can exchange digital money and verify ownership, then we can trade digital art, music, or anything else.
Bitcoin is the first decentralized project with resilience, robustness, and unwillingness to change or be changed by anyone. That’s what gives bitcoin strength and that’s exactly what bitcoin clones and competitors lack.
Most of the other cryptocurrencies are set up by companies and venture investors, that try and own a big initial stake. It’s not surprising that bitcoin has endured the way it has because it’s unique in terms of its own trajectory, and history.
VCs invested $33 billion in crypto and blockchain startups last year. With the amount of money being poured into crypto startups and given that the money comes from the same investors that funded the internet’s centralized giants, will the decentralized web be a centralized entity with a different master?
There are reasons to be both a believer and a skeptic. Bitcoin is important because it unlocks ownership and is truly decentralized, but I still wonder if we are “trading” utopian dreams for dystopian nightmares, as the stakes are enormous.
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