We’ve been arguing about bitcoin for about that long — I first wrote about it in 2014, and was hardly the first.
So, what has bitcoin actually, you know, done?
The answer, of course, is: basically nothing. And that’s why the world’s most-traded cryptocurrency is worth basically nothing.
…Sure, we got some things wrong then — plenty of them. A telecom equipment company called Corvis was more valuable after its July 2000 stock offering than General Motors, before Corvis notched its first dollar of sales. (It ended up selling for pennies on the dollar.) And plenty of web software companies were not unique enough to hold up when the real competition from bigger technology companies began.
But they all did something, or tried to, better and cheaper than any other way that real tasks had been done by real people before. Cryptocurrency doesn’t. Sorry.
It’s still accepted basically nowhere — and if there are five stores online that accept bitcoin on more favorable terms than the US dollar, I don’t know of them. Name a single business process made more efficient if it’s paid for in bitcoin rather than dollars. Now do it with a business process that’s legal.
…Don’t even start on the notion that bitcoin is a currency or a store of value, or a hedge against inflation. The unstable price chart belies all of those notions, as does exposure to bitcoin advocates, none of whom will be running the Federal Reserve soon.
…Really, about the only thing you can do more or less easily with bitcoin is trade it. The ultimate buyer is likely to be one of the greater fools on Robinhood or Reddit, all of which are basically just updated versions of the Yahoo Finance message boards, which loved Overstock 17 profitless years ago. And they, in many cases, want bitcoin partly because Elon Musk gave it an aura of the new.
So, you say you want a revolution? Well, you know, you got to tell me what your revolutionary technology does in the real world. Amusing Elon doesn’t count. For crypto, t’aint much.
Eulogy made by Tim Mullaney