At 7 p.m. on March 8 in the Innovation Studio, adjunct professor Tom Myers gave the presentation “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies” on the current stages of cryptocurrencies and their possibilities for the future.
According to the New York Times, “A bitcoin is a digital token, with no physical backing, that can be sent electronically from one user to another, anywhere in the world.”
Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency, also known as digital currency. It is a form of digital public money that is created by mathematical computations and policed by millions of computer users called “miners.”
Physically, there is nothing to hold, although it is possible to exchange crypto for cash.
“With typical currency, it requires trust,” Myers said. “With bitcoin there doesn’t need to be trust because the network creates total transparency. Everything is displayed on the network, so if someone tries to steal your bitcoin, which is almost impossible, you would see it and be able to track whoever took it.”
Bitcoin was the first crypto coin currency invented. No one knows exactly who created it since cryptocurrencies are designed for maximum anonymity, but bitcoins first appeared in 2009 from a developer under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
“That’s what I don’t like about bitcoin,” first-year actuarial science student Becky Jonen said. “It’s somehow completely transparent, so everyone sees everything, but then everyone can be under fake addresses, so you don’t actually know who is who.”
Sometimes the transparency and anonymity is what attracts users. This peer-to-peer economy model not only creates transparency, but also creates very low transaction cost: almost zero dollars.
Since all of the currency is online, this eliminates the idea of “skim dollars,” which is extra money people have to pay to bank companies for transferring money. These skim dollars are an issue for those in third world countries since they can’t afford to pay the extra costs to the banks.
“Bitcoin wouldn’t lead to devaluation of money, therefore (it) could make banking open to those without bank companies available,” Myers said.
Although bitcoin has been around for nine years, it’s still in its beginning stages. As Myers put it, bitcoin is in the garage phase of Apple.
“I think that since this is only the start of bitcoin, it’s hard to see where it could go,” said first-year business student Manny Gutierrez. “But (bitcoin) has the chance to end corruption within our currency exchange, and I think that’s a chance we need to take.”
Since everything is shown on the network of bitcoin, there isn’t the opportunity to do behind the scene transactions. However, students also pondered what would happen if bitcoin began being shared on a server not seen in the public eye, such as the dark web.
“Bitcoin is the main form of currency for places like the black market and the dark web since it isn’t an official form of currency, and it has allowed this market to flourish, so can you actually consider it transparent if it isn’t on a public domain?” Jonen said.
Although it’s difficult to see where bitcoin will go in the future, whether this may be the new form of currency for the world or just another trend waiting to die out, it already has made impacts on society.
“This will affect the world more than the internet, it wouldn’t happen without the internet, but it’s going to be bigger than the internet,” Myers said.