Oct. 31 marks the 11th anniversary of the release of the famous bitcoin whitepaper. It is worthwhile to take stock of the first crypto-currencys impressive achievements to date, while also warning of the future perils it faces.
Bitcoin has defied the critics repeatedly, being declared dead many times over. (In this respect its appropriate that it was born on Halloween.) Although its price has been volatile, its currently trading at a market cap of $170 billionmore than McDonalds, and comparable to CitiGroup.
Along the way, internecine battles led to a hard fork and the creation of Bitcoin cash (in August 2017), but the cryptocurrency community emerged wiser. As for the future, ironically a piece of otherwise good newsfaster computing powermay pose serious problems if the promise of quantum supremacy should be fulfilled.
An estimated 5 percent of Americans hold bitcoin, and the global number of users is probably around 25 million. More impressive (and precise) details concern the financials: as of this writing, some 18 million bitcoins have been minedthe metaphorical term describing the procedure by which a new bitcoin becomes recognized as belonging to someones address on the blockchainand a single bitcoin currently fetches a market price of about $9,450. For something that critics derided as a tech fad that would soon evaporate, thats a rather impressive accomplishment.
The disputes between bitcoin and bitcoin cash concerns the trade off between speed of transactions and the diffusion of transaction approval among a greater number of players in the network. These debates are of intense interest to crypto-enthusiasts and merchants, but for me they underscore some of the confusion in the original “marketing” of bitcoin to the public.