If you’re into tech, you probably would’ve heard about Bitcoins. Next to Google Glass and 3D printers, Bitcoin is the next big ‘new’ thing. Silicon Valley investors are salivating at Bitcoin companies. Coinbase just raised $5mil, for example. Besides the buzz and excitement, here’s why I’m excited about Bitcoin and will invest my time and money in it for the long term.
1) Decentralized Currency
This is the most obvious reason. If I had to explain the main reason why people would want to use and invest in Bitcoin, is that it’s a currency that is not governed by any state, institution or bank. This idea itself is amazing. If you told someone this five years ago, they would laugh in your face. It’s just too much too handle.
Even though I personally have no qualms with most government institutions, I do realize that their are problems with currency and money in the hands of greedy people. Stories of corruption and fraud are too frequent for my taste. Nevermind the recent Cyprus financial crisis, which lead to a direct increase in interest in Bitcoin. The more libertarian persons would find Bitcoin very suited to their needs, but for me the idea behind it is extremely powerful.
2) Your Own Banking API
Bitcoins being inherently digital and open-source allows for interesting changes in how people handle money. At the moment, a bank is at a distance. The average person has very little control over their funds. Internet banking has made this much easier in the past few years, but working with ‘money’ is hard.
As a web developer being able to control my own ‘wallet’ easily gives me some interesting options, such as creating my own API. At the moment I don’t earn Bitcoins, but let’s say in the next few years I’m getting a steady stream of coins. Using some code that tracks my incoming transactions, I can instantly move a percentage to my electricity bill account. When it reaches a threshold, I can instantly pay the bill.
The possibility to automate your money on your own terms is very exciting. Working with a Bitcoin wallet is incredibly easy.
3) Mobile Payments
Although iOS is struggling a bit with accepting mobile Bitcoin wallet apps, I recently tried out a Bitcoin wallet on my aging HTC. By embedding the Bitcoin URI in a QR code, I’ve experienced the most “eureka” moment with Bitcoins by far. It was almost like QR codes were made for this.
Bitcoin addresses are not speaking-friendly. Here’s how one looks like: 1QBRE1itGAta7HxnEBnQqF11YbtNDbx1c6
There’s no way you can “remember” that or let someone type that. That’s why QR codes are the perfect match for transferring these addresses.
Let’s put it this way, transferring value in a digital way has never been this easy. In fact, Bitcoin + mobile phones might be exactly be what the mobile payment market has been looking for. No credit cards, no regulations, no issues with getting money out again. Bitcoin is made for the digital age and that’s why it works.
4) Value for amateur creators
This is one of my personal favorites. My brother has talked about this as well on his blog. Since early high school I’ve always been a creator rather than a consumer. I played Warcraft 3 to no end, but then I would start creating my own maps (I made quite a lot!). Then with Morrowind I ran around most of the map, but then I would create my own hideout in Ald’ruhn using the editor that came with the game. Now I create music. Sure I can put it on Bandcamp and get the money out with Paypal, but in South Africa we could only recently do that. In high school I did not have the means or expertise to sell my content.
Now, any amateur creator can sell their content for Bitcoins. But here’s the AWESOME part. These creators can then spend their coins on other things. There’s no need for asking your Dad for a credit card. This enables a whole new generation to control their money.
Yes, I’m talking about kids here, but what about people who don’t have bank accounts? Or people who can’t or don’t want to use a credit card? It’s just so much easier to receive value with Bitcoins.
5) Just so incredibly mind-boggling
My Dad asked me on the weekend to tell him in 2 minutes why I think Bitcoin is the next big thing. I couldn’t. I rambled for 10 minutes with no sign of stopping. Bitcoin is a paradigm shift. The idea that people in altruism want to see Bitcoin succeed and ultimately work on its success is perhaps the most telling example of our new global open-source society. Bitcoin is a perfect storm of technology. But the most incredible thing of it all is seeing this crazy idea come to life. The past few years have been a rocky road for Bitcoin, but it’s like seeing a loving dad nurture its son. When it falls, people are there to pick it up. It’s like the Truman Show with Jesus as the character.
Sometimes when I look at how far Bitcoin has come I can’t imagine how this has happened. How is it possible that a decentralized currency, with no government, has a market cap over 1 Billion US Dollars and a network hash rate of over 971.35 Petaflops? I constantly go, “Huh? How? What!?”.
6) If it fails, it's here to stay
Maybe Bitcoin will fail. You never know. But the idea behind such a type of currency, even in its current early state, shows that there are crazy ideas out there that can change the way we think and work with money. I often equate Bitcoin to Wikipedia in absurdness of ideas that somehow work. There is way for humanity to work on something together and sometimes all you have to do is dream or be Satoshi Nakamoto.
In the end, like most things, don’t put all your eggs into one basket, however Bitcoin is just too exciting and amazing to not add a few more eggs. Bitcoin will either be worthless or biggest thing to happen to our society since the Internet. So why not get involved? Now if only my Dad was more interested in Bitcoins I can easily pay back the money I loaned for the plane tickets to Taipei.