Bitcoin and the emergence of a new world order
Bitcoin - the word on everyone’s lips, is the electronic cryptocurrency of the day. But what has it’s recent meteoric rise to fame really taught us?
Perhaps the short answer is that it has shown us three things:
- that the world at large believes in and is willing to invest in technology and a new way of do-ing,
- that we are collectively interested in a new decentralised, and transparent way of operating,
- that a lot of people are susceptible to hype and excitement.
Bitcoins were created to be used as an online currency - to facilitate the ease and safety with which people transacted both online and offline - using Bitcoin open-source software. Open-source software is licensed software with its source code publicly available for users to learn from, modify and share. It’s a notion with a clear focus on collaboration, sharing and openness.
Bitcoin is independent and not backed or controlled by any bank or individual or government. This independence from existing, traditional systems and control, is the appeal.
The tech world has responded to the recognition of the value in digital data by creating innova-tive systems to manage and enhance its use. Blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and open-source software belong to a brave new world where sharing, and data safety (by cryptography), and transparency are the order of the day. The concepts themselves are sophisticated - involv-ing complex mathematics and an in-depth knowledge, understanding and appreciation for all things digital. But the application is universal and available to all.
The idea of blockchain technology is revolutionary. It is disruptive, and ingenious. Using the se-curity of cryptography and the calculating power of algorithms, a network of linked computers (called nodes) creates a digital record of transactions made all over the internet - a blockchain. A network of linked computers communicating with each other replaces the need for any central HQ. This is decentralisation, central.
Our collective interest in technology and an alternative to the way money usually works, is tell-ing. There is a clear desire to avoid the limiting ways of the banking system, and a loss of trust in the current systems. Tech has made it possible for us to explore new ways, in community.
Our collective interest in decentralisation also makes sense. The 2008 crash brought the world of finance much closer to many of us, in real terms. Fintech appeared. Governments became de-stabilised, and many people, especially those in developing countries began to have less trust in the current fiscal and political systems. The internet has given ordinary people ease of access to information, and social media has lent everyone a voice. The time is ripe for the development of a new decentralised model of transacting.
There are many voices both for and against Bitcoin. The dramatic price increase of a Bitcoin has spread the word of digital currencies and decentralisation, and has also provided fertile ground for passionate financial rhetoric. Is Bitcoin a currency or an investment? Why has Bitcoin enjoyed such success when there are hundreds of other cryptocurrencies available? Why do miners and buyers keep mining and buying or investing in something so volatile? Is it a bubble? Will it last? How long will it last? And what will Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies develop into?
What will come next?