Bitcoin, the first digital asset, was invented in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonymous developer or group of developers.
Originally conceived as a peer-to-peer digital currency for the internet, bitcoin has evolved from a means of exchange to a next generation store of value. It is resistant to political censorship or interference and governed by the mathematical principles of its open source code. Bitcoin builds on a long history of technological advancements in computer science, cryptography, and digital scarcity, and it is designed to facilitate trust-minimized transactions without a centralized intermediary in a highly secure and transparent way.
Bitcoin's Blockchain Explained
The Bitcoin blockchain is a database that stores bitcoin transactions in groups known as blocks chained together in chronological order. In its simplest form, you’ll hear a blockchain often explained as a ledger. It can best be thought of as distributed software that allows for the transfer of value via its native digital asset, bitcoin, without relying on the need to trust centralized third parties. Its store of value characteristics are forged from its public, predictable, and unchangeable monetary policy that programmatically ensures the asset’s inflation rate decreases over time. Bitcoin’s underlying code controls how much new bitcoin is created and limits the maximum amount of bitcoin that will ever exist to 21 million.
The utility of bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology has driven the value of the native digital asset that exists on top of it—bitcoin with a lowercase “b”—to be the world’s best performing investment of the last decade.
Bitcoin vs. Gold
Bitcoin shares many of the same attractive properties of gold that have made it a great store of value for centuries. Both gold and bitcoin are borderless and have no centralized power or government that controls their supply. Both are globally recognized and have limited supplies, which investors are seeing as an inflation hedge for bitcoin, similar to commodities.
Unlike most global currencies or commodities, bitcoin’s transparent and immutable fixed supply properties make it a truly unique investable asset. Investors favor the fact that bitcoin’s supply cannot be expanded, thereby allowing its inflation schedule to be predictable. On the other hand, gold mining tends to increase with demand, and gold is not easily divisible and transferable. Bitcoin can be sent to anyone, anywhere in the world, in under 10 minutes and is free to store. Other precious metals and commodities have high storage and transportation costs. In addition, bitcoin is easily verifiable, while it is relatively costly to verify authenticity for precious metals.
Bitcoin has created a new asset class that may become the biggest technological development since the internet. As its adoption as a “digital gold” and employment as an inflation hedge increases, bitcoin will continue to differentiate itself further from traditional assets.