Bitcoin is Not Money (and why it is)

Dollar bills

In the last three posts, I bought Bitcoin, discovered how it is stored, and even went to Iceland to find out where they come from. (Fact check: That is not why I went to Iceland.)

Over and over again in these posts I would refer to Bitcoin as “money.” And over and over again I had to correct myself. Keeping “Bitcoin” separate from the idea of “money” is surprisingly hard.

Let’s be clear: Bitcoin is not money.

In other news, Bitcoin is money. (more…)

Bitcoin Wallets — The Tooth Fairy Will Never be the Same

Picture of banks, coins, and a wallet
Hey-Hey, Bessie, and the wallet I picked up on vacation in Hawaii—charming ways to store money.

The morning after a baby tooth came out was always fun around our house. The excited digging under the pillow, the delight of finding a shiny gold dollar, and the wonderful clinking sound sound as it went into the bank. The girl had Bessie, her cow bank, and the boy loved Hay-Hay, his chicken bank. They were a place to store coins but they were also toys with personality.

Because bitcoins don’t actually exist, storing then isn’t nearly as charming or fun. (more…)

I Get Some Bitcoin

picture of a bitcoin

There’s gotta be a reason this blockchain stuff is so hard to wrap my brain around. Maybe I’m just old with an old-guy brain. Maybe this blockchain stuff fundamentally makes no sense.

But I’m hoping it’s just that blockchains and cryptocurrencies are, in fact, really hard to understand. If that is true, there is hope for my becoming a blockchain expert in 2017. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Read two books
  • Watched videos and read stuff on the internet
  • Talked to my smartest friend
  • Interviewed a neighbor who works on a blockchain startup
  • Wrote a whitepaper on some of the stuff I’ve learned for another friend
  • Attended a Bitcoin meetup

I’m still scratching my head. (more…)

Bitcoin and Blockchain: Why Bother?

Picture of a question mark

In my first post in this series on Bitcoin and blockchains, I described how hard I worked to ignore this thing that didn’t make sense. In this post I’ll cover why I am spending 2017 becoming a blockchain expert.

Spoiler alert: the reasons are the usual suspects—pride and money.

Pride

The descriptions of blockchain are full of how they would change the world. (I even heard that Bob Kahn had said that blockchain would be “bigger than the internet.”) I had been present at the beginning of the World Wide Web and yet had entirely missed the importance of it. Failing to capitalize on the birth of a new age of technology and has haunted me for years.

If there was going to be something bigger than the internet, I couldn’t miss it…again. And if the blockchains do become bigger than the internet, won’t it be cool to be able to explain them to clueless friends and strangers.

And to laugh at people who don’t get it.

Money

When I first heard of Bitcoin, it was trading at $22 and in December 2016, when I decided to become a blockchain expert, it was at around $800. Clearly there was money being left on the table here…and I was leaving it.

More importantly, if blockchains were going to change the world, there would be lots opportunities to make a bunch of money?

So, What’s the Truth?

Pride and money are all well and good, but how much of this is true and how much is hype? Is there a lot of money in Bitcoin and will blockchains change the world?

Yes.

As I write this, the market cap of Bitcoin is over $46 billion. The market cap of the second largest cryptocurreny, Ethereum, is over $38 billion. Here’s a fun fact, if I had bought $100 of Ethereum on the day I decided to become a blockchain expert, it would now (just six months later) be worth over $4700.

Actually, this fact is not fun.

Blockchain disruption is well underway. Companies like Abra is disrupting the world of cross border money transactions currently dominated by Western Union. Companies like Augur makes it possible to crowdsource all kinds of forecasting. Blockstack is taking control of the internet away from central authorities and creating alternate trusted identities. Storj is disrupting cloud storage.

Giant players including Microsoft, Citibank, Mastercard, IBM, Visa, Samsung, and Overstock are investing significant amounts of money in blockchains. Why? Because there is money to be made and who doesn’t want to come out of the pending blockchain scrum with the ball?

Money and pride.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what I’ve learned about the relationship between Bitcoin and blockchain and recommend some resources. Click here to get my blockchain learnings by email.

Bitcoin Makes No Sense

Picture of statue that doesn't make senseIgnorance is bliss, but staying ignorant can also take an awful lot of work. Take, for instance, myself and the Bitcoin Blockchain.

I first became aware of Bitcoin in a 2011 podcast that described the currency as a “coin” that didn’t exist actually exist but that was worth $22. My response: “Bitcoin makes no sense.”

Later that year, I encountered the currency again and heard that it was now trading at $2. My response: “Well of course it went down; Bitcoin made no sense.” 

I began actively ignoring Bitcoin and was so successful that it didn’t enter my consciousness again until in 2013 when descriptions of the Silk Road dark marketplace taught us that Bitcoin was the currency of this underworld. My response: “Oh, this totally makes sense—Bitcoin is for drug dealers.” I congratulated myself for having made sense of Bitcoin and on not being associated with it. I knew this nonsense would now disappear.

But…

2014 and 2015 happened, and Bitcoin kept not disappearing. Plus, this other word began to come up: blockchain. My response: “Bitcoin and blockchain make no sense.” But ignoring Bitcoin was getting harder as mentions of blockchain became more intriguing and non-drug dealers I knew started working with the currency.

Finally in December 2016, I heard this excellent podcast where Adam Robinson tells the story of a great investor whose chief strategy is to invest in things that “don’t make sense.” I was working on my 2017 goals at the time and added to my worksheet a note to make sense of blockchain.

“Become a Bitcoin/Blockchain Expert in 2017”

In 1995, I stumbled onto the World Wide Web, and built one of the first 20,000 sites on the web, thus becoming an expert on html. But the first Bitcoin was created in January of 2009; was 2017 too late to become an expert in blockchain?

Apparently not. Some of the smartest people I know had not yet heard of blockchain. And while a lot of brainpower and at least hundreds of millions of dollars have already flowed into the blockchain space, there is still a lot to learn.

My goal is to become a blockchain expert in 2017. Since a lot of people I have talked to are as confused about blockchain and Bitcoins as I am, I’ll recount what I’m learning here. Follow along if you wish (or click here to get my blockchain learing by email). If you have a question you’d like answered, send it to blockchain@kwinpeterson.com. I’ll find the answer.