When it was founded in 2008, no one could have predicted the influence Bitcoin would now have on consumers and businesses alike. During its rise to worldwide recognition, Bitcoin has been celebrated as the future of financial freedom for the masses.
But it wasn’t all positive press. Bitcoin also gathered unwelcome notoriety as the currency of choice for the Dark Web, and for its enormous consumption of energy in the process of generating new coins.
With Bitcoin’s tenth birthday just behind us, we look at the impact this crypto-trendsetter has had on the world.
A SAFER WAY TO PAY
In the early days of Bitcoin, people didn’t expect that they’d one day be able to use it to buy goods and services. From purchasing a pint in a pub to ordering products online, some of the biggest brands now accept Bitcoin payments.
Mining Bitcoin and acquiring digital capital was considered a novelty loved by geeks, but the cryptocurrency had no established value.
As Bitcoin became more popular due to its inbuilt security, its value skyrocketed. Bitcoin never associates a person’s identity with a transaction, letting people enjoy greater anonymity when shopping.
In the beginning, only a handful of retailers accepted Bitcoin, but its security and success have caught the attention of a growing number of companies that now accept Bitcoin payments.
Skrill has also integrated Bitcoin into our services, letting you use more than 100 alternative payment methods and 40 currencies to buy the cryptocurrency. You can also make Bitcoin deposits right into your account.
Bitcoin disrupted the financial world with the way it conducts its transactions. It uses peer-to-peer transfers without the use of a central bank, so consumers can make transactions without being hit with the costly fees you’d get with traditional transfer methods.
Without the potential for a central bank to artificially inflate the currency, owners of Bitcoin don’t need to fear governments interfering with the value of their money.
Only a set amount of Bitcoin can be mined each day, and there’s an ultimate cap of 20 million in place for the entire currency, so it will never experience the same level of manual interference.
A VOLATILE MARKET WITH WINNERS AND LOSERS
Bitcoin’s growth and success have spurred the creation of other cryptocurrencies, and the crypto trading market is now booming. For the savvy investor, it’s provided an exciting chance to strike it rich, with many people enticed by the stories of numerous Bitcoin millionaires.
But while some people have stumbled across a Bitcoin fortune, others haven’t been so lucky.
The Bitcoin bandwagon has also been filled with those who didn’t keep an eye on the market. These individuals were unlucky enough to cash out at the wrong time, losing out overall.
Bitcoin’s ups and downs show that, while crypto is a great way to dream big, it can be risky like any other investment.
GROWING THE DARK WEB
The anonymous nature of Bitcoin (and cryptocurrencies as a whole) has fuelled the ever-rising popularity of the Dark Web – a network of untraceable websites, often used for criminal or illicit activity.
Keeping users’ information private is a key selling point for Bitcoin, but this anonymity can help criminals to hide their activity. In 2014, over $650,000 of Bitcoin was being used in daily transactions on the Dark Web to buy narcotics and other illegal goods and services.
INCREASING DEMAND FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY
It’s not only a rise in crime that Bitcoin has contributed to. The cryptocurrency generates a staggering electricity bill that has grown every year since its inception.
In fact, the power consumed by mining last year was 42 TWh, creating the same amount of CO2 emissions as one million transatlantic flights. So far, the jury is out on how to resolve this issue.
However, Marc Bevand, a former Google security engineer, believes Bitcoin is actually encouraging investment in the research and development of renewable energy sources. He said, “If the energy use of cryptocurrency miners continues to increase it will help decrease the costs of renewables for society at large”.
Miners want to pay as little for electricity as possible and because renewable energy is now cheaper than any other form, Bitcoin miners are actively contributing to the demand for renewable resources.
A LOT TO CELEBRATE
Bitcoin has given the world a lot in a relatively short amount of time. While not every outcome has been positive, Bitcoin’s achievements in the last 10 years have been huge. The digital currency has led the cryptocurrency market, entering the public consciousness and enabling transactions that protect user identity while discarding transaction fees.
Cryptocurrencies are complex products with high price volatility. They are unregulated, without consumer or financial protections. Only risk what you can afford to lose.