That being said, we live in an age where disruptive technologies are openly considered if not welcomed - and so they should, regardless of any threat it may pose to an established system.
"The rise of the insufferable crypto-bro has been at least equal to the intolerable crypto-snob, warning others away from something they don’t understand themselves.”
So yes, bitcoin is a big deal. In a short period of time it’s gone from niche internet forums to your uncle boasting about returns on his blockfolio price-tracking app. From less than $US1,000 in January 2017, it is now worth roughly $US13,000 after coming off a December high of $US20,000 on some exchanges – volatility is clearly part of the deal.
But beyond the hype, both cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology serve many purposes and can benefit both consumers and corporations alike. The attention on the former is mostly negative, while the latter is discussed half-heartedly and not as thoroughly as it deserves.
Indeed, the rise of the insufferable crypto-bro has been at least equal to the intolerable crypto-snob, warning others away from something they don’t understand themselves.
So why all the hate? The technology is new and it’s not perfect but surely it’s worth an attempt to build on it – even just to see where it takes us. Let’s work to see how it could be utilised to benefit our institutions, as opposed to outright dismissal because the majority don’t yet gasp the concept.
Shut up and take my money
First, some formalities. Bitcoin has its flaws. There, I said it again. Not the least of which is the fact it has become too slow and expensive to achieve its initial goal of becoming a widely used digital currency.
But in the process it has paved the way for other crypto-currencies which remove these very issues.
Trading bitcoin itself has struggles, with huge network congestion, high fees and slow transaction times. But other coins have already solved this problem - for example, NEO and RaiBlocks, both faster in comparison to bitcoin (and free to transfer to boot).
It’s no secret bitcoin uses a huge amount of energy in order to mine the currency. This method of validating the network is known as Proof of Work.
But an increasingly large number of cryptos are using a method called Proof of Stake which requires no mining power at all, relying on online nodes which validate the network instead.
Even ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency (which some speculate could soon overtake bitcoin in marketcap) is moving towards a Proof of Stake methodology.