Despite non-stop criticism, obituaries, and competition from altcoins, Bitcoin has undeniable advantages — ensuring that its value will keep rising for decades to come.
Bitcoin is a money technology, unlike anything the world has ever seen — as it requires no trust. It is simply software designed so that all parties are incentivized to play by the rules. This, in turn, could make it one of the biggest opportunities to accrue wealth for generations to come.
Here are three reasons why “it might make sense” for people to buy some bitcoin “in case it catches on,” as Bitcoin’s inventor advised.
1. HARD SUPPLY CAP
The 21 million bitcoin that will ever exist is probably the most attractive attribute to any low time preference investor. It is also the most transparent investment in history as the supply (and every transaction) is publicly verifiable.
“Bitcoin’s volatility derives from the fact that its supply is utterly inflexible and not responsive to demand changes, because it is programmed to grow at a predetermined rate,” writes Saifedean Ammous in his book, The Bitcoin Standard.
In fact, Bitcoin volatility has been diminishing over time as it matures. What’s more, volatility itself is perhaps even attractive for traditional traders looking for bigger returns. At the same time, swings in Bitcoin price $7455.46 +0.1% become a non-issue for holders who expect the value to grow due to the finite supply.
“Volatility currently exists, but so what? If anything, that’s a good thing. Hoarders are not swayed,” writes Daniel Krawisz of the Nakamoto Institute, who also notes:
Those who are hoarding are already using Bitcoin as their unit of account, in order to calculate long-term opportunity costs.
Out of the 21 million bitcoin, 17 million already exist, an estimated 4 million are lost, and 4 million more are left to mine. Therefore, any growth in demand will mean a higher bitcoin price in the long term, particularly in the run up to the next Bitcoin halving.
“There isn’t even enough BTC to go around for every millionaire to own one,” says Litecoin creator Charlie Lee. “So before you buy any other coin (LTC included), try to own at least 1 BTC first.”
2. NO ONE IS IN CONTROL
Throughout history, there was always some entity forcing people to use its money — be it the state, the church, or the central bank.
“In a world where everyone is using crappy government-controlled and censored money whose supply is expanding, anyone who has unstoppable hard digital money is at a huge advantage,” explains Ammous.
By successfully solving the Byzantine’s general’s problem through the proof-of-work, Bitcoin not only incentivizes people to save but also enables a system of monetary non-governance where politicians, central bankers or your local warlord are irrelevant.
Even the parties involved in maintaining the network do not have the power to make Bitcoin do its bidding.
Are the miners in control? No. The network’s nodes will still reject any invalid blocks even if the miner controls over 51 percent of the hashrate.
Are the developers in control? No, because they can’t force users to run their open-source software.
Are the businesses in control? No, because the failure of the New York Agreement was clear evidence that changes can’t be implemented by a conglomerate of businesses and mining pools. Only users running full (peer) nodes with the full copy of the blockchain can validate transactions and make sure everyone plays by the network rules.
Of course, there have been numerous attempts by self-appointed “representatives” of Bitcoin to wield influence over the network. However, Bitcoin’s neutrality ensures that these entities either fade into irrelevancy (e.g. Bitcoin Foundation) or fork off into altcoins they can control.
3. THE LINDY EFFECT
With each passing day, Bitcoin’s immutability only becomes more pronounced with growing network effect.
This means that Bitcoin will continue to be the reserve currency of the internet due to the Lindy Effect. It is a concept that the future life expectancy of some non-perishable things (like a technology or an idea) is proportional to their current age so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy.
Bitcoin is the first and most battle-tested cryptocurrency. It has the highest network hash rate. It has died over 300 times. Yet, it’s still here, working as intended with 99.99 percent uptime — making it the logical choice for investors to park their money.
“Just like there is no market demand for a smaller internet knock-off, there was never any real demand for a smaller, unsafe, unreliable, untested, new Bitcoin alternative,” Saifedean Ammousexplains. He also notes that altcoins “went insane” by tweaking “small metrics” in an effort to improve on Bitcoin to no avail.
Ammous calls Bitcoin the “perfect storm” because the founder disappeared — letting the software grow up on its own. Bitcoin is like a child that was thrown into the jungle and survived, he explains.
Most likely, you throw a one year old in the jungle, he’ll die. But if he survives you’re going to have a massive monster. It’s going to be very powerful. It’s not going to be able to stop. Now you can’t just bring another kid his age now twenty years on who’s lived in the city and tell him to go spend a couple of weeks in the jungle and then go fight this guy. It doesn’t work that way.