Bitcoin: The Currency of the Future?
BY MEI SHAO '25
Bitcoin. Ethereum. Dogecoin. Squid coin. I’m sure you’ve already heard of at least one of these names before—they’re synonymous with the wonderful world of cryptocurrency! In an ever-evolving world, cryptocurrency might prove to be more than just a meme: it may be the currency of the near future.
Cryptocurrency, or crypto for short, first popped up in 2009 with the potential to change the way we spend. It’s a form of digital currency that is hosted on a decentralized platform, which means that a community hosts it instead of a single government or group of banks.
So, why do these traits matter? First, decentralization proves its worth when faced with the common causes of financial crisis. For example, in the financial crisis of 2008 (hmm, only a year before crypto’s first appearance), John Lawrence, an author and speaker, commented that “wealth had become hyperconcentrated in firms considered ‘too big to fail’ without bringing down the entire economy.”
Essentially, people put all their trust in banks to do the right thing. This system toppled when unsavory banks committed unsavory acts at the wrong place and time, sending the economy into a financial crisis. Our system then begins to look a little precarious: why should we continue to put all our faith in an organization to do the right thing? This is where crypto comes in. Since it’s hosted by a whole community of people, trusting Bitcoin, the largest form of crypto, means not putting your trust in a handful of banks, but 106 million individuals across the globe with separate interests. To inflate crypto and trigger a financial crisis, a sizable chunk of these individuals would need to get deluded at once, and though pessimists might argue otherwise, such an event is unlikely. Thus, by using crypto, we will be able to avoid financial crises—or perhaps stop them altogether.
Further, unlike a Franklin that you can see and touch, crypto is entirely digital. This trait proves its worth against misplacement, privacy issues, and even counterfeit, along with any other physical threat that might threaten physical currency. According to the FBI, there were 2,440 bank robberies (burglaries and larcenies included) committed in 2019, resulting in the loss of ~482 million dollars. These dangers can be entirely avoided by transitioning to a digital currency that only exists in zeroes and ones. Though the practice of hacking insecure places of crypto exchange is becoming widespread, properly secured networks are extremely unlikely to get hacked. Therefore, the digital nature of crypto is more secure and efficient than regular currency.
Based on my exaltations of cryptocurrency, you might be wondering, “why the heck aren't more people using it?” As it turns out, crypto has some fair criticisms, one being that not all forms of crypto are well established; in fact, some are deliberate scams designed to steal your money. One such example is OneCoin. Its “founder,” Ruja Ignatova, advertised the so-called “Bitcoin killer” all over the world, drawing in many investors. However, the coin was an elaborate scheme valued at about four billion dollars. Ignatova disappeared and ran off with the money as the warrant for her arrest was filed. Trust is a coveted commodity, and as a result of many scams, there still isn’t a lot of it to go around for crypto, which confines it to niche spaces on the Internet.
As scams arise, however, we can take steps to educate ourselves by being sensitive to sketchy situations. Thus, we can build up crypto’s trust reservoir. Educate yourself and the people around with credible sources such as Investopedia, and maybe, very soon in the future, you’ll be able to walk into McDonalds and buy a Big Mac with your favorite type of crypto.