Cryptocurrency Investments: Bitcoin
As the first of its kind to gain worldwide attention, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are intractably linked. Initially starting life as a fringe asset, bitcoin is now being accepted across a growing number of businesses and institutions. For example, at the beginning of 2016, there were 538 bitcoin ATMs. By November of that year, the number had jumped to 838, or a 56% increase.
But what exactly makes bitcoin tick? At the heart of most digital currencies is the “blockchain” — a technological and “self-managed” platform that uniquely stamps every transaction. Among other uses, the blockchain eliminates the need for a financial intermediary.
Consider the obvious pitfall of a digital currency platform. The reason why a rudimentary form of bitcoin hasn’t been established before is that digital files can be easily duplicated. In other words, there’s a very real possibility of “double spending” in digital currencies. E-commerce retailers must have a third-party intermediary to help prevent fraudulent transactions. But because of bitcoin’s blockchain system, each and every transaction is by default verified. Should more retailers find out about this unique attribute, bitcoin acceptance could soar to new heights.
It also poses threats to many financial institutions. While it wouldn’t be entirely fair to declare bitcoin as the “bankers’ worst nightmare,” its architecture as an intelligent currency may upend the old guard. In fact, the World Economic Forum recently stated that the “blockchain protocol threatens to disintermediate almost every process in financial services.”
Make no mistake about it — bitcoin is the real disruptive technology and its potential is still mostly untapped.