“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”
This decade-old headline has become synonymous with cryptocurrency after the pseudonymous programmer and creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, hid it within the first ever Bitcoin block mined – the Genesis block. The headline alludes to the United Kingdom’s then-Chancellor Alistair Darling considering a second bailout for banks after the 2008 financial crisis left the economy in tatters.
Ten years later and we find ourselves on the brink of a similar situation. Rather than an economic crash caused by a subprime mortgage housing bubble, markets across the globe are suffering declines due to various issues – the ongoing US-China trade war, falling tech stocks, the Fed raising rates and Iranian oil sanctions.
Now, however, the economic landscape is vastly different. Cryptocurrency has not only provided average citizens with an alternative store of value but more importantly the knowledge that together we can retake control of our own finances. This was Nakamoto’s intention when including The Times headline within the Genesis block – to highlight a financial system that takes from the poor and serves only the rich. The hidden message was a call-to-arms to fight back against corruption and greed within the banking sector.
So have we succeeded in bringing Nakamoto’s revelations to light?
In many ways, the fact that the Bitcoin network still exists at all is a success in itself. I’m sure that Nakamoto, whoever he/she/they is or was, had no idea their little experiment would grow into the melting pot of economic reinvention and revolutionary dissent that it has.
However, many issues remain unresolved. The industry is awash with disagreement, infighting, hacks, thefts, allegations of fraud, questionable decentralization and the ever-looming threat of government regulation or seizure. 2018 saw the cryptocurrency bubble burst for the fifth time, shaving over 85 percent of value off the market over the ensuing 12 months. As before, many claimed it was the final death knell for the industry, but already we are seeing a reversal in the market and the year has only just begun.
Bitcoin, in particular – the crypto cat with 300 lives – has fought through it all and kept its head above water, for the most part. As it moves into its second decade of existence it remains plagued by slow transaction times, lack of scalability and an uncertain future regarding mining profitability. Some believe these issues can be resolved through various forks, patches or upgrades while others see Bitcoin eventually being replaced by a more advanced cryptocurrency.
Whatever the outcome, as we enter 2019 one thing is for sure – cryptocurrencies are here to stay.