I keep asking myself why cryptocurrencies are exciting. A lot of people talk about the price but the price discussion if a relatively new one. One that’s being heavily fuelled by media. Think about it: literally every week you can have a new viral article about how bitcoin lost or gained 25%. It’s the new darling of money channels and business publications. It’s a highly polarizing topic meaning endless engagement on social media. Its feeding trolls. But under the surface there’s a lot going on.
Take a look at this infographic. This is a mini-tutorial on how to be your own bank and your own security. This reminds me of a set of instructions on how to setup your own web server or your own FTP! You need to be extremely excited by the benefits of this technology to go out of your way, on a Sunday morning, and set up all this. Still tens of thousands of people around the world do it. So why are we excited about this?
I think there are strong cultural currents driving this:
Transparency. I want to know who take fees on my money. I want to know exactly how these fees are used. I want to know what software is support my transactions. I want to see the money moving. I want to understand why holding my money cost 12$/month
Security. I want to know it’s really hard to log into my account. I want to know a security breach won’t happen. I want to know my privacy doesn’t depend on a system administrator’s skills to update passwords monthly.
Control. I want to know I own, understand and control all the components that are needed to access my money. I want to be able to access it wherever, whenever I want. No matter which device I’m on or which country I’m in. I don’t want to ask any kind of permission to spend my money.
Literally, I just want to know what’s going on. For better or for worst.
Obviously, it's not efficient for everyone to do that. Not everyone builds and repair cars. Not everyone builds and repair computers. Not everyone grows and cook their own food. But people want me transparency, security and control.
A lot of these currents are strong emotional responses to a lot of events that have happened in the past 10 years. From the sub-prime crisis of 2008, the Wikileaks episodes, the latest US election (fake news!) and numerous data breaches (hello Equifax). I believe the key takeaway is that it’s healthy to ignore the waves (price discussion) but also healthy to consider the rising tide (cultural currents).
p.s. Sorry for the bad surfing analogy, I’m still in Sri Lanka catching waves!