Dear Satoshi, We Have Overhauled Your Beloved Bitcoin
How the “peer-to-peer electronic cash system” became more than just a form of money
Once upon a time, a futurist created a form of digital money. One that was programmed by code and made transparent to everyone. One that was beyond the control of governments, banks, and powerful institutions.
It was revolutionary. It was Bitcoin.
Of course, the benefits were not immediately obvious. Who was to say if a Bitcoin was worth $0.10 or $10? What can the Bitcoins get me? How do I even get my hands on a Bitcoin?
A 5,000 BTC pizza later (it was 10,000 BTC for two pizzas), almost 10 years since its genesis, and having increased in value by over hundreds of thousands in percent, people are still asking the same questions.
What is the intrinsic value of Bitcoin? Why is Bitcoin better than money? Where can I buy some Bitcoins?
You see, the concept of distributed, decentralised money has not been very popular, not when the economy is doing well. There appears to be no major problems with the centralised institutions, in most countries at least.
So people decided to use the same technology underlying Bitcoin — blockchain technology — to mediate transactions. That is Ethereum with its smart contract capability, and it has proven to be a hit.
Alibaba and Paypal created an escrow service. Ethereum went one up on escrow — its smart contracts mediate transactions between two bodies, whether it is between two individuals, or between many individuals and an organisation. It has created a new method of crowdfunding called ICO (Initial Coin Offering), and is responsible for most of the cryptocurrencies out there today.
We have come to understand that blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) is more than just the transaction of money.
It can be used for transactions of any data, transfers of any values. That is why you get banking, governance, health records, file transfers, Internet-of-things, computing, artificial intelligence, social media and whatever you can think of, attempting to build their systems on top of DLT.
Even then, majority of the population remain uninterested in what blockchain and DLT has to offer.
Earlier this week, IOTA launched its Trinity wallet beta. A cryptocurrency wallet in the form of a mobile app, which allows you to store, send, and receive the native token securely on the app. To me, this was the pinnacle of usability in the space thus far. That is not to mention how IOTA idealises to be faster, more scalable, fee-less, and quantum-resistant compared to Bitcoin.
“Now even your crack smoking grandmother can enjoy the benefits of zero fees for her purchases.”
— David Sønstebø, co-founder of IOTA.
I was so excited, possibly because it has been a long wait, but then that was it. There were not many people that used IOTA, much less accept it. I could find a couple of friends, some guys on reddit, and on Telegram to transact with, and that was it.
Yes, I know, adoption takes time.
But you see, if IOTA was just about a distributed, decentralised currency, this was it. It is somewhat done, less the marketing and educating needed.
Chances are that a 5,000 MIOTA pizza later, after a decade has passed and with prices increasing over a few thousand times, people will still ask the same questions, as they did with Bitcoin.
Thankfully, IOTA is more than just a form of money.
It is rather imaginable for cryptocurrencies to be used alongside fiat money in our everyday lives. It just has to be less volatile, and widely accepted.
Maybe it will take a year, maybe a decade, maybe never. Well, maybe.
Nonetheless, it has become clear that cryptocurrencies that function solely as a form of electronic cash has limited reach and capabilities.
Dear Satoshi, kudos to you for implementing the first ever use case of blockchain technology. We have taken that and turned it into something more. The future is bright with cryptocurrencies, crypto-assets, crypto-tokens, and we hope that you are proud of it.
Disclosure: I am an advocate for IOTA and am invested in it. I write articles like this to help consolidate thoughts and ideas that arise while working on a book about cryptocurrencies and crypto-investments.