I Want to Be a (Bitcoin) Billionaire

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You could be forgiven for thinking you’re the only person who’s not become a self-made “bitcoin billionaire” over the last few months. Everywhere you look, the profits and personal gains earned by those who invested early in this newest “cryptocurrency” have been splashed across newspapers, leading many to speculate on whether Bitcoin, and other online currencies may well be the future of the finance industry.

For many, Bitcoin appeared on the radar last year, as it enjoyed a sudden spike in pricing thanks to speculation and a frenzied interest in investment. Suddenly, the price jumped from roughly $1000 in February of last year to a dizzying $19,000 in December. Journalists in particular became intrigued. Is this the beginning of a new, entirely independent currency? they asked. Could this “blockchain” technology be a revolution in economics and programming?

This second aspect has been no less important to the growth and popularity of the Bitcoin brand. In particular, the programming technology of the “blockchain,” an independent account of the ownership and validity of Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency), has been a game-changer in computing and finance, and now programmers across the world are having to prepare to code within the blockchain system.

Despite this, however, some have been resistant to this resurgence in decentralized, computerized banking, decrying Bitcoin as an unregulated pseudo-currency which is both unstable and without long-term practicality. Warren Buffett and George Soros especially, the latter at the most recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, have criticized Bitcoin as too unstable to be called a currency, with Soros claiming that the internet currency is being used to support dictators and other shadowy figures, since Bitcoin is untraceable and only exists online. This aspect of the currency, they argue, makes it impossible to properly regulate, and thus might allow money laundering and other financial crimes with ease.

Additionally, others have argued that Bitcoin itself is not a currency at all, but rather a speculative “bubble” commodity which has gained sudden value. They say that, by definition, a “currency” should be a substance which regulates and reflects the value of other commodities and services at a fairly fixed rate (subject to inflation and other factors). Thus, they maintain that Bitcoin is simply too unstable to do this, and instead is treated more as an unusual type of speculative investment rather than a replacement for the dollar.

Nonetheless, people are still clamoring over these ones and zeroes, and, while Bitcoin has suffered due to South Korea’s decision to ban cryptocurrency trading, it still enjoys a relatively successful position at $8000 per coin. Other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum or Tether, are now being discussed in the same way Bitcoin was a year ago. Who knows? Maybe you could be the latest “crypto” millionaire. Others who got their money the old fashioned way aren’t so sure, however.

Featured Image: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/02/bitcoins-lightning-network-a-deep-dive/

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