Bitcoin peaked about a month ago, on December 17, at a high of nearly $20,000. As I write, the cryptocurrency is under $11,000… a loss of about 45%. That’s more than $150 billion in lost market cap.
Cue much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth in the crypto-commentariat. It’s neck-and-neck, but I think the “I-told-you-so” crowd has the edge over the “excuse-makers.”
Here’s the thing: Unless you just lost your shirt on bitcoin, this bitcoin blackjack doesn’t matter at all. And chances are, the “experts” you may see in the press aren’t telling you why.
In fact, bitcoin’s crash is wonderful… because it means we can all just stop thinking about cryptocurrencies altogether.
The Death of Bitcoin…
In a year or so, people won’t be talking about bitcoin in the line at the grocery store or on the bus, as they are now. Here’s why.
Bitcoin is the product of justified frustration. Its designer explicitly said the cryptocurrency was a reaction to government abuse of fiat currencies like the dollar or euro. It was supposed to provide an independent, peer-to-peer payment system based on a virtual currency that couldn’t be debased, since there was a finite number of them.
That dream has long since been jettisoned in favor of raw speculation. Ironically, most people care about bitcoin because it seems like an easy way to get more fiat currency! They don’t own it because they want to buy pizzas or gas with it.
Besides being a terrible way to transact electronically – it’s agonizingly slow – bitcoin’s success as a speculative play has made it useless as a currency. Why would anyone spend it if it’s appreciating so fast? Who would accept one when it’s depreciating rapidly?
Bitcoin is also a major source of pollution. It takes 351 kilowatt-hours of electricity just to process one transaction – which also releases 172 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s enough to power one U.S. household for a year. The energy consumed by all bitcoin mining to date could power almost 4 million U.S. households for a year.
Paradoxically, bitcoin’s success as an old-fashioned speculative play – not its envisaged libertarian uses – has attracted government crackdown.
China, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland and France have implemented, or are considering, bans or limitations on bitcoin trading. Several intergovernmental organizations have called for concerted action to rein in the obvious bubble. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which once seemed likely to approve bitcoin-based financial derivatives, now seems hesitant.
And according to Investing.com: “The European Union is implementing stricter rules to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing on virtual currency platforms. It’s also looking into limits on cryptocurrency trading.”
We may see a functional, widely accepted cryptocurrency someday, but it won’t be bitcoin.
… But a Boost for Crypto Assets
Good. Getting over bitcoin allows us to see where the real value of crypto assets lies. Here’s how.
To use the New York subway system, you need tokens. You can’t use them to buy anything else… although you could sell them to someone who wanted to use the subway more than you.
In fact, if subway tokens were in limited supply, a lively market for them might spring up. They might even trade for a lot more than they originally cost. It all depends on how much people want to use the subway.
That, in a nutshell, is the scenario for the most promising “cryptocurrencies” other than bitcoin. They’re not money, they’re tokens – “crypto-tokens,” if you will. They aren’t used as general currency. They are only good within the platform for which they were designed.