It was around 13 years ago when the first seeds of the concept that were to develop into cryptocurrency were first sown. Since then, the brainchild of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto has gone on to be a phenomenon that has captured the imagination of everyone from investors to individuals who are simply seeking new ways to pay.
It’s through the activities of the former that Bitcoin first caught the public eye. This happened when stories started to emerge about early adopters of the cryptocurrency who had become millionaires virtually overnight. It was the Bitcoin boom of 2017, and its subsequent crash in 2018 when it lost approximately 65% of its value, that cemented it in most people’s consciousness.
Since then, it has started to ride high again and in 2020 new records for Bitcoin’s value started to be set. These have continued into 2021 and in April a new all-time high of $65000 per Bitcoin was reached.
But, for all its impressive performance as an investment vehicle, for a long time its use as an actual currency has been overlooked.
It was the case that some big-name businesses like Microsoft and even Amazon started to accept it as a form of payment as well as smaller retailers, generally operating in the digital realm.
However, the use of Bitcoin as a currency in its own right gained something of a boost when PayPal announced late last year that it would start to accept it in 2021.
This has given rise to considerable optimism that a number of other sectors may soon follow suit and start to welcome it too.
A key one of these is the online gaming sector. Always keen to be at the forefront of technological advancements, online casino and poker sites would seem to be natural candidates, especially as other payment methods such as PayPal poker have proved to be so popular.
As we’ll see, many of the advantages of using Bitcoin would seem to make it a natural choice. But we can’t ignore the disadvantages and it may be some of these that are proving to be a barrier to its widespread acceptance by the online gaming sector in general, as well as many others who also seem strangely reluctant to embrace it as a payment method.
The benefits of Bitcoin
There are numerous benefits of using Bitcoin which should, in theory, make it appealing, as this list shows.
- It’s free from interference from banks and governments.
One of the principal purposes of creating cryptocurrencies is that they are decentralized and beyond the control of banks and other authorities who might otherwise want to regulate and control them. While this may not be particularly important for many people, it does mean greater freedom and autonomy for users.
- It’s anonymous and discreet
Unless someone volunteers the information about their dealings in Bitcoin, they can never be traced back to any one individual. In this way, it’s like a cash purchase, but with all the security of the blockchain behind it. All there is to identify the holder of Bitcoins is a number, which the user can choose whether or not to disclose.
- It’s secure
As alluded to above, the use of blockchain technology builds in a high level of security and means that once confirmed, transactions cannot be reversed.
- The fees are low
While there are inevitably some fees involved in using Bitcoin exchanges and making transactions, these tend to be far lower than those that standard banks and other financial institutions would charge. This is particularly true when compared with the charges made when converting from one so-called fiat currency to another which can be very high. Plus, as a universal currency, this converting, say, from dollars to Euros or sterling is never an issue.
- Transactions are fast
Unlike some bank transfers that can sometimes take days to go through, blockchain payments are completed very quickly and securely. And because it’s a digital currency, transactions can be carried out using virtually any mobile device or PC connected to the internet.
Naturally, there are also a number of not-so-great things about Bitcoin, although fans of the cryptocurrency will say that these are outweighed by the advantages. Ultimately, it’s up to individuals to decide for themselves where they stand on the matter.
- Limited acceptance
The first disadvantage is an obvious one – not everywhere will accept Bitcoin as payment. Although this is gradually changing it may still be quite a while until it can truly be considered to be a mainstream currency.
- High volatility
As we’ve seen, Bitcoin’s value can rise and fall quickly and unexpectedly. So, it might be considered a little risky to use until it stabilizes a little and starts to behave like a fiat currency. This volatility is the trade-off that has to be made in exchange for it being decentralized with no banks or governments who can step in when volatility strikes.
- It can be too secure
To access a Bitcoin wallet, it’s necessary to remember your private number, or key. Without it, there’s no possible way to access the cryptocurrency. There have been plenty of stories in the media about forgotten keys with users only having a limited number of attempts to unlock their accounts before their money will be lost forever.
4, It’s far from being green
At a time when we’re all far more environmentally aware than in the past, the fact that it takes a huge amount of computing power to mine new Bitcoins is a distinct disadvantage for many people.
- Scams are on the increase
Last, but not least, Bitcoin fraud is on the rise with hackers devising ever more sophisticated ways to commit crime. Following safety procedures can help to prevent this, but it’s still a risk.
Luckily, the benefits of bitcoin do seem to outweigh the disadvantages. This, along with the momentum that has steadily built up, means that we could soon even see it cryptocurrency being welcomed everywhere from supermarkets to fashion retailers. And, for many of us, this won’t come a moment too soon.
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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