Bitcoin: The Story Of The Future
In the first part of this article, we established that money is kinda complicated. Well, if we’re being honest, Bitcoin is kinda complicated too. In the words of comedian John Oliver, Bitcoin is “everything you don’t understand about money combined with everything you don’t understand about computers.”
I’ve found this from my experiences giving talks about Bitcoin: Because it’s so different from anything they’re used to, people often cannot believe what they’re hearing.
People tend to have trouble with:
- Who controls Bitcoin? (Answer: Nobody, it’s decentralized. There’s no one party that governs it.)
- If no one controls it, how does it run? (Answer: It’s all computer code that runs automatically on the Internet. The code is “open source” meaning anyone can check the code to see it’s legitimate.)
- How can something like money be decentralized? (Answer: It can, we’ve just lived in centralized systems all our lives — that’s why it sounds so crazy.)
The decentralization thing is powerful. It’s not obvious, but it’s insanely powerful. This means no group of politicians can ever suddenly decide they want to issue more Bitcoin (lowering its value), or block certain people from using it. This means even a superpower country wouldn’t be able to shut it down.
Bitcoin is the first major asset class in history that’s independent — a technology that doesn’t belong to anyone; and so, actually belongs to everyone. It’s the democratization of money.
Like most people, I first came to Bitcoin because I wanted to make money. But when I studied deeper into these concepts, that’s when it really hit me: Decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were gonna change the world.
The government is always right, no?
“But isn’t it bad that nobody controls Bitcoin? What if someone misuses it? Shouldn’t we leave important things like this to THE GOVERNMENT?”
Well, disruptive technologies tend to behave the same way. First, there’s a bunch of hardcore believers who’re willing to break the rules. Then come speculators trying to make quick money. Then, sex, drugs and dirty money get involved. Finally, regulation comes in and cleans things up.
There’s no doubt that a small portion of people use Bitcoin for bad stuff, like drug trafficking. Just like how money launderers and terrorists surely use WhatsApp. You can’t throw out good technology just because of some bad apples. Besides, any pro knows that good ol’ US dollar notes is the most common way to launder money.
But there’s another weak point with the “Government knows best” argument. We’re all very familiar with corrupt regimes where the government of the day was screwing the people *cough cough 1MDB. It’s a tale as old as time: the government watches the people and makes sure they follow the rules. But who watches the government?
What if some party gained so much power they corrupted the entire system: including the military, police, and courts? We’ve seen this happen in many failed countries — what makes us think it won’t happen here?
Now you might think I’m a crazed anarchist who shows “f**k the government” signs at street demonstrations. But I’m not. I pay my taxes, vote for the politician I think is least bad (like you), and regularly support government-linked programs, especially in financial education.
I’m just saying an asset that’s not controlled by any government isn’t crazy. It’s disruptive — something so radical it makes us uncomfortable. But it 100% makes sense. It’s time.
Bitcoin has momentum
When I started my Bitcoin journey, I viewed it as an experiment. I was a noob with surface-level knowledge. Four years on — with 28 months working full-time in crypto — I’ve got some personal experience and data now.
Will Bitcoin fail? That’s the wrong question. Bitcoin has already succeeded. Progressive governments across the world (including countries like Japan, USA, France, Singapore and Malaysia) have accepted it’s here to stay; they’re passing laws around it. In 2017, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the USA called Bitcoin “a fraud.” Last week, JPMorgan Chase said it’s started banking with cryptocurrency exchanges.
The only question now is, how big does Bitcoin get?
Here’s an interesting statistic: A survey last year found that 27% of millennials (18-34) prefer investing in Bitcoin vs the stock market. Quite insane if you think about it. One’s a baby technology that’s only 11 years old; the other’s been a core part of the financial system for centuries.
To be clear, I’ve got nothing against traditional assets. I believe in using a mix of investments to manage risk, and have invested only <10% of my net worth in crypto. I think most people should keep most of their money in low-risk investments. If you’re new to Bitcoin, start with a small amount you’d be willing to lose.
But no one can hide from the data: it’s clear which direction young people are headed in — just as they enter their prime years of earning money.
They want Bitcoin.
The story of the future
11 years ago, the Bitcoin source code was released to the Internet. Out of all the billions of lines of code that’s released online, why did this one grow into a centi-billion (perhaps trillion soon) dollar industry?
Nobody knows — the odds are probably close to zero that such disruptive technology would come from an open-source website that only geeks know, thrive despite opposition from big banks and governments (in its earlier years), and spread to millions of people around the world.
When we’re considering the success of Bitcoin, remember there was never a charismatic “CEO of Bitcoin Corp.” to manage the project and promote it at conferences. There was never funding from the UN or IMF to pay for software developers. There wasn’t government-sponsored SMSes to convince you to use it.
Bitcoin just grew organically from believers; people and companies who believed they were building a better future. It’s a story that shows what’s possible when groups of people work together for a common objective. It’s a tale of collective human ingenuity.
If you ask me, and I know I’m being romantic here — it’s a rather miraculous story. A story that will continue to spread; just like how it came to me a few years ago and totally altered the direction of my life.
Now I’m passing it on.
Everything above is based on my personal experience. It’s not investment advice. Always make sure you do your own research before investing in Bitcoin or anything else.
Additional note: In his day job, he is also Luno Malaysia’s Country Manager. Luno is a licensed digital asset exchange in Malaysia.