Today, when the price of one Bitcoin went up to $19,000, I texted my son:
What is Bitcoin?
It is the world’s most popular digital currency – a form of cryptocurrency, independent and disconnected from banks or governments. There is no middle-man. There is no tangible money that you can hold in your hand. When a purchase is made with bitcoin, it cannot be tracked.
The great and powerful Satoshi Nakamoto is thought to be the mastermind behind Bitcoin. No one has ever seen him. He may not even exist. He may be an individual or a group. Several candidates have been named as possibly Satoshi, but the mystery remains. Elon Musk was one of them but he denied this in a tweet saying “Not true. A friend sent me part of a BTC but I don’t know where it is”. You can purchase only part of bitcoin because it can be divided out to 8 decimal points. 0.00000001 is the smallest division, the penny in the Bitcoin world, which is called a Satoshi in homage to it’s creator.
Initially bitcoin was used mainly to buy illegal drugs. Silk Road was the first modern deep web market. It was an online market for anything imaginable, from apparel to psychedelic drugs to fake drivers’ licenses. I was horrified the first time I saw it- like Ebay for the underworld. Buyers and sellers were protected through Tor software that allowed for anonymous transactions. It is a complex fabric of programs to conceal the identity of the user. Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in 2013 and its founder is in prison.
The value of bitcoin when it was introduced in 2010 was $0.003. The now famous first real-world transaction was made then by buying two pizzas delivered by Papa John’s for 10,000 BTC. Today, many people are choosing to hang on to it as an investment, rather than use it to purchase things. Bitcoin is on the cusp of going mainstream with the Nasdaq and Chicago Mercantile Exchange planning to allow investors to trade with bitcoin. More and more stores are accepting bitcoin currency. And yes it is possible to buy stuff on Amazon using bitcoin! Bitcoin ATMs are popping up all over the world. A bitcoin ATM is an internet machine that allows exchange of bitcoins and cash. Bitcoin withdrawn is deposited into a virtual wallet, an app, like breadwallet. I just downloaded it on my phone from the app store.
Bitcoin reminds me of the first time I encountered the word “fracking”. I kept hearing about it but had no clue what it was. I made a point of plodding through articles about fracking, not a topic that I would naturally be drawn to. I think we need to know what the rest of the world is talking about even if we are spiritual, old, living out in the country or female. People think it’s a guy thing and I might increase my male readership if I write about bitcoin. Women need to know about it – men might screw it up.
Bitcoin intrigued me from the start. I love all that Mossad-esque spy stuff. What we see on the internet is the tip of the iceberg – there are layers and layers below. Only 96% of the internet can be accessed by Google and other traditional search engines . The surface internet is mind-blowing in itself – then to hear there is more?
Most of us never owned bitcoin or may never even have heard of it. This may just be another dot-com bubble. Warren Buffett, in 2014, called bitcoin a “mirage”, and warned investors to “stay away”. What is certain is that this is not the last you will hear of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Now you will know what it is, thanks to Love+Medicine . You never know what you’ll get here.
My advice to my son is to hold on to his Bitcoin and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted…