One idea in the mind of a single individual – or a small group of individuals – can spark a whole revolution. 11 years on, Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper became the foundation for the most significant recent financial movement. It unified people from across the globe, who saw the flaws in the traditional financial system, around a single currency: Bitcoin. Now that movement has morphed into a kaleidoscope of personalities, opinions and new FinTech developments, even when Nakamoto himself has disappeared. A true leader-less movement, based on decentralization, a distributed ledger and individual monetary sovereignty, has 55,000 computers running nodes in 96 countries as its backbone. Here is how Bitcoin has developed 11 years since the concept was published and how it has changed the way we view investment.
In the beginning, Bitcoin set out to produce a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash.” Once Satoshi Nakamoto sent the first transaction to Hal Finney, a renowned cryptographer, Bitcoin spread like wildfire. That happened in part due to the economic melt-down that the world experienced during 2008-09. Traditional financial systems and investments took a turn for the worst, exposing the vulnerabilities of a centralized system in which government and central bank control are operational pillars.
This led cryptocurrency enthusiasts to label Bitcoin as superior money, although to some it might be more of a store of value than money. Those enthusiasts, who became proselytizing agents, focused on Bitcoin’s advantages over traditional money to promote it as a superior system:
- Financial inclusion within Bitcoin is automatic. All you need is a wallet and properly secured private keys
- Cheap and quick peer-to-peer transactions
- Inflation is kept in check by hard-coded monetary expansion
- There is a limited amount of coins that will be minted – 21 million
- Anyone – at least in the beginning – could participate in minting coins through mining
- The network is secured by cryptography
- Its public, distributed ledger allows anyone – running a node – within the network to verify transactions
- Most importantly, unlike the traditional economy which had just crashed, Bitcoin would not allow for bail outs of companies and individuals deemed too big to fail
Bitcoin Captures the Imagination of Investors and Speculators
Proselytizers like Nick Spanos, managed to bring more adopters in. They also succeeded in attracting the attention of investors and speculators. Adoption grew and the amount of goods and services available for purchase with Bitcoin, has grown. Nevertheless, the growth of Bitcoin on the investment sphere has by far surpassed its growth in e-commerce, retail and other kind of sales, even after Bitcoin-specific products hit the market.
This movement fueled a lot of conversations about price, and the Bitcoin game turned to fiat profits. Speculators who understood that Bitcoin’s market cap and trading volume were small enough to manipulate with sizeable buy or sell positions in the market, took advantage of the hype. They started buying and selling Bitcoin creating an explosion of exchanges, trading platforms and even Twitter accounts that specialized in “market signals.”
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Bitcoin to Fight Inflation
As more investors and speculators moved into the market, pundits – like Paul Krugman – questioned the validity of Bitcoin as a currency, store of value, or even as an alternative for economies that suffer from hyper-inflation. Bitcoin price volatility however, proved to be a marginal issue in countries like Venezuela and Argentina. Hyper inflation and capital controls in both countries, highlighted the superiority of Bitcoin as compared to the flaws of the local currencies. It also proved to be a much better medium of exchange and store of value than gold in both cases. Pundits were proven wrong time and again.
Number of Bitcoin Nodes Grows
Bitcoin was in fact, that safe haven that many in developed countries dismissed as a theoretical tool for an unlikely scenario, despite the perils of the scaling debate that brought about the famous Bitcoin Cash fork. The fundamentals of the network kept on gaining strength, even when Google search trends waned. Bitcoin kept adding more nodes to its network, strengthening its resilience and granting more users the right to vote on any future changes.
Now, after SegWit was successfully deployed enabling the launch of the Lightning Network, Bitcoin is showing even more promise. With the advent of Lightning Network, nodes became even more important to those looking to receive Bitcoin payments for their products and services. Bitcoin’s price might still be far away from its all-time high, but its 55,000 nodes (and counting) distributed across 96 countries, show that the fundamentals are there to break the previous all-time high.
Proof of Keys
Now it is time to solidify Bitcoin’s stance as that independent, censorship resistant alternative to traditional money. On the eleventh anniversary of its launch – 3 January 2020 – Trace Mayer is proposing an educational celebration. Since Bitcoin has integrated so many newcomers, and it has become an investment vehicle with a whole class of derivatives set up by traditional investment firms, Mayer says it is time to go back to the basics. Bitcoin holders who do not own their own keys, basically have no coins. Mayer is asking all of us to withdraw all of our funds from exchanges and other custodial wallets on 3 January, to reclaim our financial autonomy and prove that we own our private keys.
There is no way of understanding what Satoshi Nakamoto would think about the amazing spread of Bitcoin. 55,000 nodes across 96 countries could have surprised him, as much as the number of users who don’t control their own private keys. It is time to celebrate Bitcoin’s eleventh year by doing what Satoshi recommended and establish a baseline for the future growth of this cryptocurrency through sound fundamentals.
Hitesh Malviya is the Founder of ItsBlockchain. He is one of the most early adopters of blockchain & cryptocurrency enthusiast in India. After being into space for a few years, he started IBC in 2016 to help other early adopters learn about the technology.
Before IBC, Hitesh has founded 4 companies in the cyber security & IT space.
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