Bitcoin was launched in January of 2009. It introduced a novel idea set out in a white paper by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto—bitcoin offers the promise of an online currency that is secured without any central authority, unlike government-issued currencies. There are no physical bitcoins, only balances associated with a cryptographically secured public ledger. Although bitcoin was not the first attempts at an online currency of this type, it was the most successful in its early efforts, and it has come to be known as a predecessor in some way to virtually all cryptocurrencies which have been developed over the past decade.
Gold has had at least three millennia to establish itself as a store of value people turn to when social systems are in stress. Bitcoin has only existed for 11 years. While plenty of investors are willing to speculate on the possibility bitcoin might supplant or compete with gold, the idea is far from ingrained across society. When will it be more widely accepted? Perhaps when the international crisis of global leadership unleashed by COVID-19 undermines the capacity of institutions like the Federal Reserve to sustain economic and social confidence. Whatever new institutions and systems we create going forward will need to address how the internet has upended society’s centralized systems of governance. When that happens, we’ll need a decentralized, digital reserve asset as the base value layer. As I said, it will take time. Meanwhile, the developers will keep building.
Why? Is it my inflation terror driving me on? No. Ethereum is onto a new crypto winning phenomena. DeFi (decentralized finance). Well, that’s what it’s called, but most DeFi is dull and almost pointless, the exciting bit is the crypto lending part where you can stash your cryptocash in a blockchain system and get paid interest on it in a “risk free” way.
Ethereum is what is known as an open-source, blockchain-based, distributed computing platform. It has smart contract features that enable the processing of contractual agreements online. These smart contracts can be used to process the transfer of assets, such as shares, property, and money. When a smart contract is run on a blockchain, it becomes a self-operating program. It will automatically execute once certain predefined conditions have been met.
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Senate Banking Committee Remains Open to Idea of Digital Dollar in Tuesday’s Hearing. If you want a measure of how far things have come in terms of the acceptability of the digital dollar idea in Washington from something that a year or so ago would have been a nutty, fringe idea, read the opening paragraph to Nikhilesh De’s writeup of this hearing: “Not every U.S. lawmaker is on board with the idea of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or digital dollar, but no one explicitly rejected it during a hearing of the powerful Senate Banking Committee.”
“I’m shifting slightly away from Bitcoin in my interests, and in the things that I want to write about,” he said. He explained that recent world events meant he was less excited about focussing primarily on Bitcoin, and the harsh line that was adopted by some Bitcoin fans. He also said he believed that things were about to get more political—a prospect that didn’t excite him.
The de facto cryptocurrency leader, no other coin even comes close to Bitcoin, or BTC. At the time this article was written, the dollar value of all outstanding Bitcoin was $150 billion. The total market capitalization for all cryptocurrencies is $230 billion, and the second-most valuable digital currency was Ethereum, with a market value less than $18 billion.