It’s been an interesting year for Bitcoin. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve come up to me during the last 12 months and made some kind of kind of half-sympathetic, half-condescending comment, along the lines of, “Well – looks like that Bitcoin bubble has finally burst doesn’t it?”
No. Not really.
Sure if you only got into Bitcoin this time last year because you expected it would be like some kind of Yazz song then it’s not been a joyful twelve months I suspect. But I hope that even they are by now starting to realise that the true value of cryptocurrency isn’t one that can be measured in dollars or sterling. Because for a vast number of people in many places around the globe, self-sovereignty – over your thoughts, beliefs, association and money – is priceless.
If there’s one thing that we’ve seen this year with Bitcoin – again, as with every single previous year – it’s that for many people it has a genuine use case.
A few, in fact.
Just take a look at Venezuela. Or indeed any of the many countries in which the economic freedoms of its citizens have been strangled (if they ever existed in the first place).
My @TIME column on why bitcoin matters for freedom. For billions living under authoritarianism, it can be an alternative money system and an escape from economic control. And for all of us, it preserves the peer-to-peer virtues of cash in an increasingly digital financial world. https://t.co/vmyhwlOVJr
— Alex Gladstein (@gladstein) December 28, 2018
On top of that, just take a look at any chart which tracks the growth in direct Bitcoin transactions between individuals in Venezuela.
This is some chart on LocalBitcoins volumes in Venezuela.
Money as a killer app for blockchain. Who knew?! pic.twitter.com/yvNOx1ob6z
— Ryan Selkis (@twobitidiot) December 28, 2018
Start to dig into some of the real-life stories in these areas and seek out ways in which the technology, far from simply being yet another speculative asset, is actually filling a demand in a way that nothing else can.
It’s another urgent reminder that you should check that you read behind the popular well-known headlines in order to flush out the far more accurate stories of real life for many millions of people.
Pretty essential if you’re also needing to see through all the other nonsense that’s out there. So if you’re a pensioner in Venezuela whose monthly pension payment is now being paid out in the Petro rather than the Bolivar, the situation looks very grim indeed, as other more able younger members of society rush to escape the country as it bobs around increasingly erratically on the ocean, with a huge ragged hole torn through its hull far below the water line.
And that has very little to do with Bitcoin being a ‘perfect’ currency. It just needs to be available, unable to be stopped by the government and at least marginally better than the existing hyperinflationary disaster that exists in that country today.