Really, what is the Bitcoin all about?
If you have heard about the behemoth called Bitcoin, then you’ve also probably heard that it is a form of money – digital money or cryptocurrency.
Imagine someone asked you to explain what the Internet is. If you said the Internet is nothing but email, a more informed person will conclude that you know next to nothing about the Internet. Not that you are wrong in linking Internet with email, but the point is that the Internet is so much more than email.
It is similar with Bitcoin. And if you know Bitcoin only as money – digital money or cryptocurrency, then you know so very little.
But make no mistake about it – Bitcoin and what is known as money have unbreakable bonds.
To understand the phenomenon of Bitcoin, it is important to know that Bitcoin is by far, the most disruptive technology you will experience in your lifetime.
This is so true that to say Bitcoin is the most disruptive technology in your lifetime is even an understatement. Bitcoin’s emergence has already spawned hundreds of cryptocurrencies fashioned after Bitcoin’s underlying technology called Blockchain. Have you heard of the Blockchain technology? If Bitcoin were a large skyscraper, Blockchain will represent the land on which the skyscraper stands. The combination of Blockchain and Bitccoin is a big deal.
A series of articles will soon be appearing right here on AfricanPod to dig deeper into Bitcoin.
Now let’s get back to the earlier point about the unbreakable link between Bitcoin and money.
Andreas Antonopulous, a leading expert on Bitcoin, explains the link best when he says “money is the first application of Bitcoin,” just like email was the first application of the Internet.
Relatively few experts are able to explain Bitcoin in a way that is meaningful to most people – and listening to the experts can feel like drinking from a fire hose.
Mostly, this is understandable, because Bitcoin as a concept transcends layers of known computer science and technology and how it relates to finance and social engineering.
Invariably though, an attempt to understand Bitcoin starts with money.
One of the most persistent forms of human activity is the daily use of money for payments to facilitate the exchange of goods and services.
Money is considered so important in obtaining daily needs in our modern world that most people spend most of their lives working for it.
The underlying force of money has everything to do with human freedom and control of a person’s use of time.
“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws.” That is a quote attributed to Mayer Amschel Rothschild, and it illustrates the point.
The power to issue money is far more influential that the powers of Parliaments, Kings, Prime Ministers and Heads of State.
The mechanism through which money is issued, printed and circulated is both so simple and so complex that the average person is unable to understand that it is the ultimate tool of slavery and oppression.
The awesome power to issue money is wielded by entities called Banks. The structure of these entities can make them look like it is the government of the day, but they are mostly privately owned and operated banks.
In some cases, it is a loose amalgamation of government and little known private enterprises. Often, this shapeless and formless authority identifies itself in many countries as the Central Bank.
This power, the power to issue money seized by Central Banks is what Bitcoin seeks to smash.
The outcome of smashing that awesome power is expected to result in individuals around the world becoming the owners of that power and influence. If and when realised, the Bitcoin idea will change the world of business and commerce as we know it.
The inventor of Bitcoin remains unknown, but he goes by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
His invention was revealed in late 2008, fittingly around the time of the historic global financial crisis when global banks were bailed out at the expense of ordinary people.
In Satoshi Nakamoto’s world, the financial crisis would not have occurred, because the banks that were bailed out as a result of their irresponsible actions would not have had the power to issue and control money in the first place.
Satoshi’s idea of finance is one that is completely decentralised on a network without any government or controlling authority.
The power unleashed by Bitcoin is demonstrated by the fact that even its own creator cannot stop it from growing or remove it from existence.
Satoshi Nakamoto planted his genius by making himself or herself irrelevant to the ongoing existence and growth of the technology.
So Bitcoin is not company or an organisation, anymore than you can describe the Internet as an organisation or company.
Bitcoin and all it represents is a technological standard similar to the Internet Protocol without any central authority – and again like the Internet, you don’t need anyone’s permission to participate in it.
Bitcoin operates according to advanced mathematical rules that are as dependable as the laws of physics.
Transactions that occur on the network are agreed upon by a completely decentralised global network of computers and these transactions are also peer-to-peer. This means transactions occur from person to person with no middle man or any kind of mediation.
As a form of money, Bitcoin is on a wild ride. Starting at a value of just a few cents in 2009, it is, as of 22 October 2017, more than $5800 US Dollars per coin. Investors around the world are either embracing it fully or avoiding it like the plague.
The attitude of the most informed however is to ignore Bitcoin as money and rather understand Bitcoin as the most disruptive technology invented in our lifetime.
That is why one Podcast like this on AfricanPod cannot paint a complete picture.
Come back again soon for the series that will explain it further. And while you are here, check out our previous episodes on AfricanPod.
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