All Crypto goes to Zombie
In the beginning, there was fiat. All fiat goes to zero, it’s a well known mantra. This is probably based on the fact that all the world’s past currencies have disappeared, for whatever reason. Usually because they lost all their value. Like, in over 99% of times. Some exceptions are the termination of european currencies to introduce the euro, which was planned.
A bit of history
The first paper money known was created in china, back in the day. Waayyy back, like 15 centuries. It disappeared. The Roman Empire has the ‘sestercius’, made of silver, which started to have less and less of it, until the empire went bust and the sestercius became a collectors item. Just two good examples from what were the major currencies back in their time. The list could continue on and on, but the result would be the same. Looking for the other side, currencies that survived, the list becomes much shorter. There is one example, the pound sterling. It has been around since 1694, more than 300 years, which makes it the oldest survivor in a pool where the average life is around 30 years.
There are also all the funny things used as money, from salt, to cows, to seashells, to rollinf stones, to cork. Yes , they all make funny foot notes in the world’s money history, and they went the same way as monetary currencies. Too get a more in-depth view, as well as some useful trivial persuit data, just google and wiki away.
The status quo
And right now, in the 21st century? Well, pretty much same thing. Taking the last 100 years of history, the success rate for a currency has been the same, zero. With the pound statistical exeption, but that to survive had to loose 95% of it’s value(tldr; in 1964 1£~12oz of silver, today 1£~1/12oz, do the math). You don’t find another case of a coin that was around 50 years ago and it’s still used today. No marks, pesetas, cruzeiros.
Ok, by now you must be screaming about that 800 pound gorilla everybody knows, the dollar. But, the dollar is only the same in name only. Basically, when it started, 1$ was worth it’s price in gold, literally. Back then, a person could go to a bank and redeem it for a gold or a silver coin. Then, came along the Fed, and it was only partially pegged to gold value. Then, came along Nixon, and the dollar was separated from gold entirelly. At each event, a massive devaluation occurred. That’s why at start 450$ bought you 1 pound of shiny, and today you need some 1200$ for the same gold nugget. While other countries created a new currency every 1/2 century or so, the pound and the dollar were hacked and slashed to a fraction of their size. In effect, this is the same as dropping a coin, and creating a new one worth say, 10x the old one.
So, you can stop screaming now. These currencies had the same fate, they just kept the name on each transition, instead of a brand “new money” name. Instead of dying, the corpse got a new batch of makeup :)
Finally, crypto, and the zombies. Today all money is digital. Yes, there’s still bank notes, but the vast amount of available money, over 98%, it’s parked as bits in banks’ computers. Basically, all we do when we get the “paycheck” or pay for groceries is moving data around computer databases. But in banks we trust, and there’s a social (unconsious) consensus that the data has a specified amount of value. That value only depends if the tag next to number value shows “dollar”, “yuan” or “BTC”.
So, what’s the difference between “dollar” and “BTC” ? Simple, everybody will be willing to give you a bread or a car, if your numbers have the tag “dollar” attached. But most of people do not know the tag “BTC”, so they will give you nothing for it.
Given the success rate of past currencies, eventually people will stop giving you stuff for dollars or euros, or whatever tag is next to your numbers in your bank account. At that time, the national bank, which is the big guy that says “i’m only one that can print this stuff”, will say, well, this thing is old, so i’m going to make a new one, let’s call it the “stellar”. And just as past currencies stopped being minted, the current ones will stop also, the tags will disappear from the banks’ databases, and dollar will will become just another collectors item. And euro. And yen. And so on. And you’ll buy you bread with stellars.
Today, when a currency is replaced, the issuer goverment sets a date, and at that specified timestamp the numbers and tags in the databases are changed. Beforehand, some containers of shiny new printed notes are prepared, and the old notes are swapped by the new, but it’s simple, because only less of 2% of the numbers are actually moving around in physical printed papers.
BewaRe, a HoRde of ZoMbieS!
So, it’s to be expected that eventually BTC, EHT, XRP, LTC, XMR, FTC, ZEC…. ok, and the other 1000 plus digital coins around will suffer the same fate. Whatever the reason, whatever the cause. But, enter blockhain :)
Unlike central government controlled databases, which are centralized, with restricted access, blockchain currencies are on public networks, everybody can join and be a part of the database, just grab the software and follow the rules for that coin and there you have it, you are a part of the system that prints and regulates whatever digital coin you just chose. You, and probably a few thousand or million other people. Or nodes, let’s call them nodes. Each node is you, or other guy’s computer, or some virtual machine in the cloud, or some huge warehouse from a digital miner company. And that system assures that people cannot (usually) mess with the network, say to increase a specific account with a big number, for example. All other nodes will look at it, cry FOUL!, and that bad player will be ignored.
(little sidetrack: this is exactly what happens when the central bank is the only node. It can print, push the increase button and nobody else can cry foul, since the access to the only, single, big central node is restricted. The central bank just goes, ‘hey, i pushed the red button, and this number here just increased by 500 Billion. Cool!’)
So, since the blockchain(s) is public, and spread all over the globe, when one of these (or all of these) digital coins stop being used, who will pull the plug, or change the tag, or mess with with numbers? You cannot order/boss the other nodes, that is how the blockchain was built. Even if a digital coin stops completelly, it takes just a single node to keep it alive. This would be the same as keeping old coins as collector’s items, maybe?
The point is that all the current value of these coins will go to zero eventually. BTC in 50 years? nope. ETH in 100? not a chance. LTC in 10? haha. But now try to make all the people/nodes to actually stop running the blockchains for each coin. There will be just always somebody doing it, even if it’s just for the fun, for nostalgia, for the hell of it.
Old-world physical coins stop being created and used at some point, and no, being collected is not used, just as a china set at display on a museum is not “usage”, which makes kinda sense, why will i bother to design, buy material, run machinery to create more pieces of some coin that nobody wants anymore? the central entity decides on day so-and-so, this currency will be dead, and that’s official.
This will not happen with digital coins. 10, 50, 100 years from now, there will be still nodes spinning around for these coins. For the simple fact that is so easy, takes so little effort, there will be always some nodes running. With their original purpuse, and function, and properties. You will be able to send/receive, create a new wallet, or a contract, or a drone, or whatever they were designed to do.
So yes, there will be all these thousands of zombie coins, kept alive(ahem!) by half a dozen nodes, some of them in mars i hope, and since the main purpose of the public blockchain is that anybody, anywhere, anytime can join, there will be always another node to feed a starving zombie coin for a litle while longer.
Which means that these zombies will keep grunting and gnawing and attracting uncautious wanderers, who sometimes will pay with a scratch, sometimes with a pound of flesh.
Beware of the coin that scratches your newsfeed in the night!!!