We’re nearing the five-year anniversary of Bitcoin’s tremendous price surge that ran it from $2,000 in mid-May 2017 to over $19,000 that December. It alerted mainstream investors to the potential of cryptocurrencies as an investment vehicle, ushering in years of price watches, bubble predictions, and claims of ‘the next Bitcoin’ across the cryptocurrency market.
At least originally, at their core, cryptocurrencies aren’t intended to be points of interest in speculative markets rather real forms of currency – at least within their own networks. So, putting to one side the price points, we’re examining if cryptocurrencies are starting to achieve their goals now that they have mainstream attention.
As the first cryptocurrency to enjoy widespread adoption and to be the face of the industry, Bitcoin is often the name that drives just about everything to do with the newsworthy side of cryptocurrency markets. However, its inception also came by way of reckless speculative investments that partially caused Wall Street to crash, along with central banks going down the rabbit hole of hyper-inflation.
In the whitepaper on the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute website – the pseudonym of the creator of Bitcoin – it’s made evident that the trust-based model used throughout finance can’t itself be trusted anymore. So, Bitcoin’s blockchain was established to remove this need to trust in the opposite party or govern the financial networks through human input. Usurping fiat currencies (money presently used) has been the battle cry of early Bitcoin adopters, but the emphasis on coin price and get-rich-quick tales have overshadowed this story.
Is Bitcoin being used as a currency yet?
Perhaps the biggest flaw of Bitcoin in its creation (as we’ll delve into a bit more below) is that the Bitcoin blockchain was built purely to support the Bitcoin currency, making it a one-dimensional financial product, so to speak. As a currency built to get around untrustworthy governments, the original cryptocurrency has found that those who run nations are still rather powerful. You can see it in the story of people trying to fund Canadian truckers on strike, only for those accounts to be seized, or India now introducing legislation to simultaneously ban Bitcoin and introduce its own digital coin.
Still, there’s an increasing count of companies that are opening up to accepting Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies as viable payment methods. Microsoft, PayPal, Zynga, Twitch, CheapAir, Whole Foods, Rakuten, and Wikipedia headline the brands which accept Bitcoin. There is logic to accepting Bitcoin, which is clearly outlined in the online casino industry. Bitcoin is evermore sought-after in casino gaming, which is why VegasSlotsOnline has reviewed and ranked the best bitcoin casinos that offer Bitcoin as a payment method. The fact is that Bitcoin is completely secure and trusted by virtue of the blockchain, enables instant transactions at low or without a fee, and offers complete anonymity.
These elements make it ideal for online players who want to know that their money is secure and personal details are safe. You could also argue that these are the core concepts behind more nations considering making cryptocurrencies their official currencies. The biggest story in this regard – as if scripted by Nakamoto themselves – was the collapse of Venezuela’s national currency, the bolívar fuerte, leading to many in its population turning to cryptocurrencies. In September 2021, though, El Salvador became the first to officially label Bitcoin as legal tender in the nation. So, for Bitcoin, perhaps the pieces are starting to fall into place.
Ethereum’s build looks set to last
Amidst all of the market speculation around Bitcoin’s price, experts in the technology always pointed to Ethereum as being the game-changing network to watch due to its blockchain-first approach. Bitcoin is a currency outright, while Ethereum’s coin, Ether, is a supplement for use on its diverse tech and the many applications that can be developed on its “programmable blockchain”. The key is its smart contract functionality and the open-source nature of its software, enabling a tremendous range of functions and applications without the need for third-party oversight. For Ethereum, the price of Ether is almost neither here nor there: the aim of the system is to leverage blockchain technology to its maximum potential.
One aspect of crypto-related tech that has emerged predominantly on the Ethereum blockchain is NFTs and NFT trading. Tokens like those for the Pudgy Penguins and Bored Ape Yacht Club are built on Ethereum, as is the marketplace OpenSea. Now, while it may not be involved when some of the top games of all time look to include NFT games, more and more games will be built on Ethereum from the start to leverage its blockchain and the use of token minting and smart contracts. Already, Axie Infinity and Sorare are proving the system’s power. What all of this proves is that Ethereum and Ether are achieving what they set out to achieve: integrate blockchain technology to improve digital products and services.
Bitcoin is fighting an uphill battle to shift from investment asset to respected currency, but moves are being made in the right places to give it legitimacy as a real form of money. For Ethereum, much of its publicity may still come from Ether being second only to Bitcoin, but its blockchain-first approach is certainly paying off already.
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