The cryptocurrency market, once approaching a value of $3 trillion, is facing a rude awakening. Major firms in the industry are failing, leading investors to lose trust and completely cash out their holdings (if they are even able to). The important question now is what digital assets are even worth owning, if any.
Simplicity is key
Many crypto enthusiasts are enamored with the promise of another popular cryptocurrency like Ethereum. Ethereum’s key innovation was the introduction of smart contracts, which are self-executable computer programs that run when two parties satisfy their ends of a particular transaction. Bulls believe this technology has the potential to disrupt major industries, financial services being at the top of the list.
Cardano is another smart-contract cryptocurrency that operates a proof-of-stake system trying to compete directly with Ethereum. Cardano also has a very thorough and complex development structure, with five separate phases in its pipeline. Again, both Ethereum and Cardano might be used by individuals and institutions on a daily basis a decade from now for a number of use cases.
But the number of complicated upgrades needed for Ethereum and Cardano, with surely more updates added to the mix in the future, creates tons of room for error. And the “completed” versions of these blockchains could look much different than what many think they’ll be.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, is incredibly simple. And this is fully by design.
Bitcoin was created during the Great Recession as a way for two unrelated parties to send and receive money to each other electronically without an intermediary. And its supply will be capped at 21 million coins. This is it. This is the foundational knowledge any newbie needs to understand it. There are certainly some implications to these characteristics of Bitcoin (discussed below), but this is the most important information that investors should know.
Bitcoin is completely different from every other cryptocurrency out there, and this is exactly why I like it. There is really no room for a central authority to change the direction of the network, and malicious actors have yet to hack it. The network’s simple setup was created on purpose. I view this as a feature, not something Bitcoin lacks.
To be clear, I don’t fully comprehend the technical intricacies of Bitcoin either, but I am much more comfortable with it and its possibilities than other cryptocurrencies. And I think its stability deserves a premium.
A better form of money
At a high level, Bitcoin has the potential to change the very nature of money, which has three functions. Money should be a store of value, a medium of exchange, and a unit of account. Throughout its history, and probably for the foreseeable future, Bitcoin is gaining ground as a legitimate store of value.
This leaves gold as an apt comparison. For thousands of years, the shiny precious metal has been viewed as a safe place to park your wealth. It has some industrial uses, but gold is primarily used in jewelry and as an asset to hold, so its value is derived by the fact that other people think it’s worth something. Why can’t Bitcoin be viewed similarly?
Bitcoin possesses key traits that actually make it a better store of value than gold. Bitcoin can easily be transported across borders. One Bitcoin is divisible to eight decimal places. Bitcoin can be used in transactions. And most importantly, Bitcoin is absolutely finite. Once 21 million coins are mined, no more can be created.
While Bitcoin is more portable, divisible, transactable, and finite than gold, gold does have a much longer history. But I can’t see why in a world that is only going to become increasingly digital, Bitcoin can’t start chipping away at gold’s $12.5 trillion worldwide market cap.
Whether Bitcoin satisfies the medium-of-exchange or unit-of-account properties is yet to be determined. And we might not know until a decade from now (at least). But even if Bitcoin’s only true use comes from it being a new way for individuals and institutions to store wealth in a digital way, then I still believe the upside is massive, especially after its price has cratered 75% since its peak 13 months ago.
This makes it the only cryptocurrency I’d buy right now.