Happy Birthday, Bitcoin!
“A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”
This is the phrase that marks the beginning of the whitepaper which launched Bitcoin 9 years ago today. Under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, a document was published that enabled us to look differently and freshly at the way we think about the Internet and the economy. The letter is still available on the same webpage as on 31 October 2008.
Countless myths surround this pseudonym: In March 2014, the U.S. news magazine Newsweek claimed in a cover story that the Californian Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was the true identity of Nakamoto. Two years later, Australian entrepreneur Craig Steven Wright, citing Japanese philosopher Tominaga Nakamoto, claimed the white paper for himself. There were even theories that it was really the NSA who was behind all the fanfare surrounding bitcoin, but all traces only led into the dark.
The world stands still…
What is without any doubt, however, is that, nine years after its emergence, the invention by the ominous person behind the pseudonym prompts governments to act and stimulates the imagination of more than three million investors. In its hundreds of varieties, Bitcoin has not only generated its direct competitors Bitcoin Cash, Gold and SegWit2x, but also its direct opponents and catalysts Monero, ZCash and Ripple.
Several dozen ICOs are launched every day on the Ethereum Blockchain, providing companies and organizations with the needed small bites of fresh capital. They entrust their Ether to people whose hands the founders never shook and whose faces they never saw, removed from the control of banks, tax offices and regulators.
Bitcoin has initiated a democratization of financial flows, which at least for a short moment in history give us the feeling as if not everything were cemented the way it is; the idea of a democratic currency, free of interest rates and politics.
You will succeed
It will be different: banks are magically attracted by the short transfer times, corporations are looking for the right use cases, governments are at odds for possibly losing control of their most important instrument and are looking for laws to help them bring the fantastic profits of decentralized technology under central control. IBM, Microsoft, Sony, Cisco, Mastercard, Russia, China, the U.S. – all are scrambling to find a way to use the underlying technology for their benefit. And in the end, they will succeed.
As long as the bubble doesn’t burst, it’s not a problem.
But today we think of all the small investors. Because it’s our birthday. Of the taxi driver from Namibia who imagines the possibilities that might open up for him, once Amazon accepts Bitcoin and what’s going to happen with the e-wallets he gave his children two years ago for Christmas. Of the housewife from Phuket, the gigolo from Mozambique and the widow from Uzbekistan.
Of the people who post in Facebook’s „To the moon“ groups and who are not impressed by the skeptical opinions of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon or IMF head Christine Lagarde. In which way has television developed? What about the Internet? The fax machine? Right, exponential. For as long as the bubble doesn’t burst, it is no bubble.
The Spirit of Power
For a brief moment in history, the possibilities seem boundless. Just like in the 90s, when the Internet began its triumphal march. Just like in the 70s, when the hippies saw the world under the sign of Aquarius and started the revolution of love on LSD. Just like in the 1930s, when Spanish anarchists fought against the henchmen of Franco in Barcelona. Just as each of those shared ideas, the Bitcoin will have to bow to the spirit of power. At some point, the wave will break and reality will strike its inexorable blade into the utopia of the incorruptible, transparent and direct currency.
However, the underlying idea will set its anchor. The Blockchain will leave its mark on the world economy in the coming years – under whatever name and at whatever stage of development.
That’s why we are celebrating this birthday thinking of all the nerds, misfits and cyberpunks who have become millionaires thanks to the frenzy of recent years. All the criminals who had their short moment of triumph in the Darkweb, where they were able to conceal their transactions from the state. Thinking of all the taxi drivers, snack bar owners and cleaning men who dream of Lamborghinis and their own homes all over the world. It started in 2008 with a few cents. Today, the Bitcoin is close to its all-time high of 6,153.17 dollars.