Today is the 10th birthday of Bitcoin.
Ten years ago, Satoshi Nakamoto released the code for what is now Bitcoin and changed many people’s lives – some for the better and some for the worse. The mysterious figure is still unknown to the world, but his or her or their influence has been massive.
Those sceptical of Bitcoin today may question the above statement, but it is easily provable. The market for cryptocurrencies is just a shade over $130 billion. New companies have arisen that are valued way over $1 billion, including Coinbase and Kraken. A revitalisation in the idea of sound money has also occurred. Without Bitcoin, WikiLeaks may well have run out of funding, and I am not so sure I would even bother using Twitter.
To celebrate the 10th birthday of Bitcoin, Bitmex ran an advert in UK newspaper The Times thanking Nakamoto. This is significant because on the release of the Bitcoin code in January 2009, The Times was quoted referencing the bailout of the banks thanks to the 2008 financial crisis.
However, marketing in cryptocurrency has been kicked up a notch in recent months. Watch a Premier League football match and you will often see eToro advertising hoardings. When riding on the Underground in London, adverts for cryptocurrencies are also commonplace. These are just a few examples highlighting how cryptocurrencies are infiltrating the mainstream more and more. These marketing campaigns do not come cheap, and considering the bear market, this shows the strength of such companies, for now at least.
With the volatile prices over the past ten years, there are a lot of people who will have lost money thanks to Bitcoin. This will commonly be through degenerate gambling with leverage or merely through FOMO where people bought at the top. This has led to much criticism from the outside. Nakamoto, though, has also created a whole new thriving industry. Bitcoin and blockchain conferences are numerous throughout the world, new media companies have arisen (clearly my writing this is an example of that), and a variety of other niches have been created, be they wallets, exchanges, and so on. So, whilst many have lost or made money through trading Bitcoin, many also earn their living through the work surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
The rise of Bitcoin has been coupled with more information being disseminated about how large web companies use personal data. These two correlated incidents have led more people to investigate the power of the State and large corporations, whether this be on the right or on the left of the political spectrum. Bitcoin’s release at the time of the financial crisis couldn’t really have been timed better. Whether you view the populism on the left or right as a positive or negative, Bitcoin has molded the political outlook of many.
Still a baby
Despite turning ten, Bitcoin is still a relative baby. Scaling solutions have yet to be fully implemented, meaning Bitcoin is still not usable by the majority of the world. Acceptance in the wider population is also fairly minimal. Mainstream media is slowly coming around to the idea that cryptocurrencies are here to stay and worth reporting on. Mainstream economists still choose to fight it, though.
No one really knows what is in store for the next ten years of Bitcoin. In the past ten years, it has already “died” more times than Sean Bean in his movies, and with the continuing price volatility, calls of its death will continue. Those that are bullish remain so, and those that despise it are not changing. Only Bitcoin remains the same.