The True Value of Bitcoin and The Blockchain
180 pounds of gold (displayed above) is worth an estimated $3,500,000 (USD) based on current rates of $1220/oz.
Under 5 years ago, that same amount of gold was worth over $5,000,000…
15 years ago, the same amount of gold was worth under $1,000,000…
At one point in the history of the human race, a 180 pound gold nugget would have been worth $0…
Why is that?
Starting from thousands of years ago, gold was used in high-end decorations and jewelry due to its beauty, rarity, and resilience. In smaller sizes, gold provided to be a useful medium of exchange and storage for society. The utility of gold is what was valuable to people thousands of years ago. However, it is important to understand that gold’s utility came as a result of technological advancements. As mentioned previously, a 180 pound gold nugget would have been worth $0 because at one point in history, humans would not have possessed the necessary technological skills to make use of it. It would not have been possible to make jewelry or ornaments from it, let alone easily move it. Only after discovery of methods allowing humans to take advantage of gold’s malleability, did gold begin to play a more significant role in human history.
Now let’s take a look at Bitcoin (BTC) which has been in existence for only 7 years (compared to 1000s of years of history for gold). When Bitcoin first came out it was useless just like the huge gold nugget. At one point, 10,000 BTC would only get you two pizzas. As time passed, more people took interest and contributed towards the technological development of Bitcoin. Now 1 Bitcoin is valued near $500. Developments such as the Thunder Network essentially gives us the ability to split the huge gold nugget into smaller coins. This results in increased utility for Bitcoin by allowing transaction speeds of up to 100,000 transactions per second (TPS). As time passes, we’ll continue to see ongoing development and the various ways in which they bring increased utility and value to the Bitcoin ecosystem. (reminder: over $1 billion was invested in Bitcoin infrastructure in recent years and that takes time to produce results!).
Private blockchains initiatives such as R3 make use of limited aspects of the technological developments that Bitcoin offers. Essentially, developing a private blockchain is like saying: ‘gold is valuable and can be used for a variety of things such as jewelry, decorating ornaments, etc. but I’m only going to use it for coins.’ Private blockchains may have their useful applications but relative to Bitcoin, their utility is severely limited. The open-source and decentralized nature of Bitcoin is what allows for collaboration in development, security, and stewardship on an unprecedented global level.
A look at value.
As mentioned above, utility is an obvious factor in valuation. Rarity and security are two other commonly cited reasons during valuation. Gold is rare, secure (easily preserved) and free from government influence (to a degree). However, Bitcoin outperforms gold in these aspects and more
- Open-source and decentralized
- When compared to inflationary models subject to centralized influences, the predictable and fixed total supply of 21,000,000 BTC looks pretty good… Especially during times when the economic solution for everything seems to be print more money.
- Yearly inflation for Bitcoin decreases from ~9% to ~4% shortly (early July).
- True control over your funds. The only way anyone can get access to your account is by you revealing the private key (password).
- Faster medium of exchange with minimal costs
- Unbiased and tamper-evident method of recording history and information (history was always written by the victors)
- Uses math as security instead of reliance on authority
- Ability to adapt and evolve
Ex. The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (Near) spacecraft discovered near 20 million tons of gold on the asteroid Eros. With continued technological developments, we will eventually be able to access metals in outer space. Such large increased fluctuations in supply will have significant impact for value since rarity decreases.
On August 15, 2010, an exploit resulted in the creation of over 184 billion BTC. This exploit was speedily patched and significant problems were avoided for Bitcoin. Unlike Bitcoin, gold is unable to ‘patch’ itself in order to maintain aspects such as rarity.
The market capitalization of Bitcoin has gone from $1 billion to over $7 billion within 3 years and it should continue to grow along with its ecosystem. As market capitalization increases, liquidity will also increase, allowing for reduction in volatility. Anyone citing volatility as a concern for Bitcoin fails to understand that volatility for BTC is a problem that will solve itself over time.
I believe Bitcoin has yet to reach the peak of its exposure on a global level. As long as we continue to live in technologically advanced times, the future of Bitcoin is bright and I remain bullish on Bitcoin and other various applications of blockchain technology (long-term).
Edit: emphasis on decentralization (June 14)
The open-source and decentralized nature of Bitcoin is what allows for collaboration