Bitcoin is one of the oldest and most widely-known cryptocurrencies. There are no coins to mint or bills to print. It is decentralized, which means there is no banking institution or government in control. Owners remain anonymous; rather than using names, Social Security numbers, or tax IDs, bitcoin uses encryption keys to connect sellers to buyers. Bitcoin is mined by extremely powerful computers, rather than being issued like conventional currency. It involves math, technology, social dynamics, and economics, and although it has been around since 2009, it’s rapidly gaining traction. In this guide, readers can learn about some of the basic concepts of bitcoin while getting answers to some common questions.
The Effects of Bitcoin on the World Economy
During the last few years, bitcoin has rapidly risen to global prominence. In becoming the world’s leading cryptocurrency and a top performer among currencies overall, it has gained an astounding 35% over the past year. However, attaining this level of recognition hasn’t been easy. Bitcoin’s association with crimes such as the narcotics sales and money laundering that commonly occurred on dark-web sites like Alphabay and Silk Road, as well as its high level of volatility, left conventional financial market participants very wary of its risks.
How Bitcoin Has Changed Banking
Bitcoin’s potential impact on the central banking system should not be underestimated. The BIS, or Bank for International Settlements, which is owned and operated by the world’s top central banks, observed that Bitcoin could potentially affect their ability to control the global economy and issue currency. As of the time of this writing, many of the world’s central banks are closely monitoring Bitcoin developments. Others, such as the central banks of Ecuador and Canada, have already taken action by creating proposals for issuance of digital versions of their countries’ fiat currencies.
Bitcoin’s Effects on Industry
Bitcoin has recently brought changes to a range of industries as well. Most industries that accept Bitcoins as payment are run online. For instance, Cheapname, which provides domain registry services, accepts payment in the form of Bitcoin. Other online companies like WordPress, which allows users to set up personal and professional blogs, also accept Bitcoin payments. Finally, Steam, a gaming platform, accepts cryptocurrencies as well. Bitcoin’s success has brought it from the online realm into the brick-and-mortar world. Virgin Galactic, a company with a known preference for state-of-the-art technology, research, and development, somewhat unsurprisingly accepts Bitcoin, as does Elon Musk’s Tesla car company.
Bitcoin’s Political and Societal Effects
Along with its benefits, Bitcoin brings a fair amount of political upheaval. As stated before, it is not controlled by any single government or bank. Because it’s a highly individualized type of wealth, and because of the cryptography involved, no state can take away that individuality. As people begin to understand that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are advantageous because they’re governed by code rather than by human bias, the political controversy is likely to continue.
Cryptocurrencies’ effects on society haven’t yet been fully realized, nor will they be felt immediately. Despite the rise of digital currency, it is just now becoming mainstream, and many people are still unsure how Bitcoin works. An increasing number of sellers are accepting cryptocurrency payments, and it’s a matter of time until more follow suit.
How Bitcoin May Affect the World’s Future
Most of today’s international and digital transactions use one type or another of virtual credit or currency. Bitcoin is built to provide the same convenience and security assurance afforded by credit, while bypassing additional processing fees and time requirements. International remittances, or payments sent home by those working abroad, are the area with the biggest growth potential for cryptocurrency. As of now, money sent home must pass through several wire services, banks, and currency exchanges.
According to a recent Businessweek study, the average international remittance fee was 9% of the total transferred, with cash conversion costing an average of 5% more. Companies like Western Union work on profit margins of nearly 16%, and many of their costs are incurred because of the technology involved in moving money from place to place and guaranteeing transactional legitimacy. In short, what these companies spend billions of dollars to accomplish, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can do at no cost.
Which Sectors Will See the Most Significant Changes Because of Bitcoin?
Many of today’s financial experts predict that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will be the biggest disruption since the Internet was created. With the number of industries that can potentially be affected by this technology, it’s easy to see the truth in these predictions. While the financial sector is testing and using blockchain tech to increase operational efficiency and decrease per-transaction costs, other sectors face potential effects, as listed below.
- Private transportation: The industry will see potential disruption in two forms; the development of eWallets for in-car use, and the advent of decentralized, blockchain-based, peer-to-peer ridesharing. For instance, companies like Innogy, ZF, and UBS are now developing eWallets that allow auto owners to quickly and seamlessly pay for parking, tolls, and electric car charging with the car’s blockchain-based, built-in eWallet. Ridesharing services are likely to increase as a part of the global sharing economy, and basing these services on blockchain tech takes the control away from central third parties. Here, owners and riders can agree on ridesharing terms and conditions via secure, smart contracts. Startups currently building such services include Israel’s La’Zooz and New Hampshire’s Arcade City.
- Cybersecurity: This has become a popular topic among corporations and individuals as cybercrime becomes more common around the world. In fact, the World Economic Forum highlighted it as one of the biggest risks in the world. Because of its immutable, decentralized nature, blockchain technology can be utilized to prevent the theft of data, because that data is stored using secure, safe cryptography. Furthermore, blockchain tech can be used to build a more secure Internet that’s less vulnerable to distributed denial of service or DDoS attacks. Startups like Nebulis are developing new blockchain-based domain name systems, which can’t be harmed by DDoS attacks.
- The distribution of music: Today’s music industry will also be affected as cryptocurrency changes the way things are bought and sold. Several startup companies are using blockchain to change the way music is shared and royalties are paid, further disintermediating an industry that has previously been heavily centralized. These companies are building new ways for artists to sell their albums and singles directly to fans, with no need to go through a record label or other distributor. This will create a more open, fair music industry where artists receive direct payment and are able to form closer relationships with listeners.
- Healthcare: The health sector will greatly benefit from the use of blockchain tech. Hospitals and nursing facilities often struggle to securely warehouse and share data, and they regularly fall victim to cyberattacks. Using the distributed ledger method to safely share and store data will improve the security of that data while allowing for more accurate, faster diagnoses.
- Storage in the cloud: Most sectors are wholeheartedly embracing the concept of cloud storage. However, with the current condition of the cloud, the sector’s users must trust third parties such as Dropbox and Google to safely handle their important data. However, by combining blockchain and cloud storage, that doesn’t have to be the case. Startup companies are now allowing users to share unused space with others for a low fee. This creates a crowd-sourced, decentralized storage solution that’s less likely to suffer from data loss and cyberattacks.
- Management of the supply chain: This industry is primed for serious blockchain-related changes as it continues to focus on transactions that must be noted in a transparent but secure manner. There are multiple startups working on blockchain-related supply chain management methods.
- Voting: One of the most significant areas of societal disruption will be the use of blockchain tech for vote tallying and voter registration. As the world saw during the last US presidential election, a process in which the Russians were alleged to have interfered, a publicly viewable, immutable ledger of votes would be a big step toward fairer, more democratic form of global politics. Several startups are trying to hack the democratic process by creating online identity verification and voting processes that use blockchain technology.
Some of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency skeptics are starting to accept that blockchain will play a substantial role in various industries by storing, recording, and sending data in a low-cost, secure manner.
Tips for Investing in Bitcoin
Bitcoin’s exploding popularity has created a significant buzz among investors, traders, and consumers. Low fees, high transaction speeds, increasing values, and other factors have convinced millions to adopt the cryptocurrency as a primary method of exchange. Large trading groups have capitalized on the Bitcoin boom, but in this turbulent environment, dedication and discipline are two requirements for success. Below are several tips to help investors turn that volatility into an advantage.
- Become a technical analysis expert: Bitcoin’s nature makes it much different from other currencies. As there’s no governing body to affect its value, it’s highly susceptible to effects from outside sources such as news event. Bitcoin’s value model is highly speculative, and it disregards a large portion of conventional financial theory. Understanding how to perform technical analysis is an important prerequisite for entry into the cryptocurrency market.
- Set a pace that’s sustainable for the long term: As in conventional financial markets, trading isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. One of the most vital steps cryptocurrency market participants must take is to establish a schedule that can be kept over weeks, months, or even years. No one can do their best trading at all hours of the day and night, and the ideal practice is to set a manageable timeline by focusing on optimal trading times.
- Stay updated: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are unique in that most news events’ effects on the market can’t be predicted. There are no inventory reports or GDP releases to influence pricing and increase participation. However, unexpected happenings can significantly affect the price of Bitcoin, and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the news feed, just in case.
- Implement a stop-loss policy: Long-term volatility is a Bitcoin attribute that’s especially compelling to active investors and traders. Valuations can fluctuate by up to 10% each day, which creates ample opportunities for traders who are willing to take a few chances. Whether a trader works in the Bitcoin futures, CFD, or cash markets, a stop-loss policy is essential. It’s important to use a stop-loss somewhere in the market to protect open positions.
- Use leverage wisely when trading or investing in Bitcoin: While it seems cliché, leverage really is a double-edged sword. It magnifies one’s gains, but it substantially increases their losses as well. If leverage is excessive, an investor is more likely to mismanage their money and lose everything. However, too little leverage can inhibit performance because trades may not always perform to their full potential. In the end, effective management of leverage is a delicate balancing act, but it’s an important one for Bitcoin investors to perform.
An easy way to define a position’s size is to use the 3% rule. Under this guideline, only three percent of the trading account’s total is assignable to each trade. This ensures that the risk matches the reward in regards to stop-loss location and position sizing.
The world is quickly approaching the ten-year anniversary of Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency, decentralization, and blockchain are continuing to evolve. Cryptocurrency is in a bit of a bubble right now, and like others, the bubble will burst eventually. Surviving currencies such as Bitcoin will become the Amazon, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan of the next few years, and they may even form the basis of future governments.
As existing players enter the system, they will leverage their power to protect the system from outsiders. Decentralized currencies will become a parallel economic OS for the world, especially in countries that saw the most significant effects of the US dollar’s dominance. However, to accomplish these goals, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have to become indispensable.