As Bitcoin cleared the 8000 USD$ mark and hurtled beyond, surely even the skeptics - and there still are plenty - can't help but wonder what else this cryptocurrency has in store for its investors.
But perhaps the more important question to ask is: What is Bitcoin? It's a cryptocurrency sure, but where did it come from so suddenly and who developed it and released it? Is Bitcoin private or a government initiative? If the latter, then which government?
Due to the blazing speed at which Bitcoin is gaining traction and popularity, a lot of people are still completely in the blind when it comes to the details. So let's take a closer look at this revolutionary new payment system that is Bitcoin.
Bitcoin was conceived and ultimately released by Mr Satoshi Nakamoto at around the time of the Lehman crisis. When he considered his job done, Mr Nakamoto disappeared from the limelight, leaving his brainchild in the capable hands of several other cryptoanarchists.
Shortly after Bitcoins were circulated, the currency started appreciating from mere cents to several dollars. Fast forward to now and it's clear that Mr Nakamoto touched a nerve amongst a massive number of people. To be sure, Bitcoin's trajectory has included death-defying drops and extended periods of fallow time, but, bottom line, it reached mainstream awareness levels in 2017 and the reason is that having a digital or virtual currency makes sense.
It's time for Bitcoin
Why is Bitcoin gaining so much traction? A number of reasons. First and foremost, Bitcoin is decentralized money. In contrast to fiat money that's issued by a central authority such as a government and then facilitated by a bank, a credit card company, a funds wiring service, or any other established financial institution, Bitcoin can be used between just the two parties that matter in a money transaction: the sender and the receiver.
By disintermediating the middleman, Bitcoin transfers are not only way faster to complete, several days for traditional money transfers versus several minutes for Bitcoin, but much, much cheaper too. A Bitcoin transfer typically costs 1 dollar or less, whereas a telegraphic transfer can cost up to 100 dollars or more.
Bitcoin's other main forte is the fact that it's maximized at 21 million. There will never be more than 21 million Bitcoin in circulation. This is the exact opposite of fiat money, which tends to increase in liquidity, due to the relentless government-sanctioned quantitative easing that we've been witnessing for years.
Now, ever-increasing money liquidity typically means a very low interest rate, with inflation for good measure. This kind of environment is a killer for savings, pension funds, any and all cash that's not directly Involved in the economy. And this is one of the rationales for investors to acquire Bitcoin. After all, so long as you hold Bitcoin, your principal will always increase in value as compared to all fiat money you own.
This may be the right time to introduce the Blockchain
. The Blockchain is the heart and soul of Bitcoin, inasmuch as Bitcoin's security is derived wholly from its Blockchain protocol. The Blockchain is essentially a digital ledger, a kind of database that encapsulates each and every Bitcoin transaction that was ever validated.
The difference between a regular ledger and the Blockchain is that Bitcoin's Blockchain is propagated periodically by cloning itself to every single node on the Bitcoin network. And since the Bitcoin network comprises thousands of such nodes, hacking or defrauding Bitcoin is as good as impossible. What's more, since all transactions are public, Bitcoin is fully transparent.
It's these iron-clad features that render Bitcoin a very suitable store of value. Some say that Bitcoin is an even better store of value than gold, going so far as dubbing Bitcoin Gold 2.0
. Why? Because whilst Bitcoin shares with gold the attributes required in a robust store of value, Bitcoin is the much more portable and divisible one between the two.
Moreover, whereas gold's trajectory may allow for incremental growth going forward, Bitcoin is still very much in its infancy. Given its potential, Bitcoin may still go 10x or even 100x. Incidentally, it's interesting to note that on November 7th, 2017, the search term "buy bitcoin" eclipsed "buy gold". A sign of things to come?
With this, a word of caution. After all, with Bitcoin's infancy comes a fair degree of youthful imperfection. Bitcoin requires a fair amount of honing before it's ready for the Bigtime.
For instance, one issue that's been bugging Bitcoin's performance is its lack of scale. It's the result of its success; its escalating number of users are outstripping its current capacity. Interestingly, we saw a similar situation during the early days of the internet, i.e. when bandwidth was inadequate, on account of the ever-increasing number of people discovering the internet and subsequently using it.
Now, just as we no longer have any internet bandwidth issues, so too Bitcoin will resolve its throughput bottleneck. Where dedicated IT developers look for solutions, it's certain they will be found. In fact, to this end, Lightning Network and other off-chain implementations are already being tested successfully.
As regards to a FinTech-oriented country like Singapore, Bitcoin may well be the currency of choice to lubricate Singapore's Smart Nation
The bottom line? Bitcoin and FinTech are headed for a bright future.
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I am not an investment advisor and above article is for purely informational purposes and is not to be taken as investment advice. 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.