I have a
love/hate like/dislike relationship with cryptocurrencies. But one thing I feel confidently about is that Bitcoin is not the future of cryptocurrencies.
By market capitalization Bitcoin is currently sitting in the #1 position as the largest cryptocurrency.
But it isn’t there because it’s the best. It’s there because it was first.
There is something to be said for the network effect but Bitcoin has several fatal flaws that leave it vulnerable to being overtaken by newer and better technology.
Bitcoin Transactions take “forever”
If I buy something digital online I want to be able to download it instantly.
Imagine buying a song on iTunes but having to wait 10-30 minutes to start downloading it. If Apple used bitcoin instead of credit cards that’s probably how long you’d have to wait.
Or what if you want to buy a latte on the way into work? Would you want to wait 10-30 minutes in the coffee shop before you can leave with your drink?
But why is Bitcoin so slow?
Bitcoin takes 10 minutes per block. A block is a set of transactions. So at best Bitcoin takes 10 minutes to confirm a transaction. Most vendors however, require 2-3 confirmations before they consider the bitcoin transferred, which means 20-30 minutes of waiting.
You need a Trusted Third Party to make Fast Payments
Websites like Overstock.com accept Bitcoin as payment. However, they do so by utilizing a trusted third party, like Coinbase, to serve as a middleman.
No doubt they do this to avoid the issue of double-spending, refunds and transactions taking thirty minutes.
But the fact that overstock.com uses a trusted third party pours cold water on the idea Bitcoin has “Fast peer-to-peer transactions”.
Bitcoin has Scalability Problems
In addition to confirmations being slow, Bitcoin has issues with scalability of the network, or the number of transactions the network can process. There are competing camps about how to resolve this issue but there has been much more debate than action.
This could lead to hard forks of the cryptocurrency. More on that later.
Bitcoin Transactions aren’t Anonymous
One of the previously oft touted benefits of Bitcoin was anonymity in transactions. While Bitcoin transactions are pseudonymous, unless you buy bitcoins in cash from someone on the street, there are links back to the exchanges and thus bank accounts.
I’m sure there are ways to purchase Bitcoins anonymously but it’s not easy or safe. If you know how to do this I’d value your input in the comments section below.
Bitcoin is Centralised and the Centralised Powers don’t have Their Act Together
Despite propaganda that Bitcoin is decentralised–it is in fact controlled by the Bitcoin Foundation in conjunction with the Bitcoin Core developers and the larger miners who can afford the expensive application specific integrated circuit hardware required to successfully mine Bitcoin.
In sort of an Orwellian double-speak both the Bitcoin Core developers and Bitcoin Foundation talk about how they keep Bitcoin decentralised.
The Bitcoin Core development team is not very big.
I don’t see how a group of 3 “maintainers” and a dozen or so contributing developers is “decentralised”.
If I wanted to be really mean I would compare the Bitcoin Foundation to the Federal Reserve and the miners to the big wall street banks.
But I won’t do that.
The main advantage Bitcoin has over the Federal Reserve is that the number of Bitcoins that will be created is fixed at 21 million whereas there is no limit to how many dollars the Federal Reserve can conjure from within the shady halls of the Eccles Building.
However, if Bitcoin forks, like Ethereum did, then the number of Bitcoins will effectively double.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with a cryptocurrency being centrally controlled.
While I have a general bias towards decentralisation and subsidiarity (when possible)–I think that a benevolent dictatorship can be good–provided it is easy to jump ship if the centralised power becomes corrupt.
Bitcoin is Squandering it’s First Mover Advantage
But despite large issues with Bitcoin the Bitcoin Foundation and the Bitcoin Core developers haven’t gotten it together to make progress in fixing the aforementioned systemic issues with Bitcoin.
Could these problems be fixed? Sure. Smart, motivated individuals working together towards a common goal can accomplish amazing things. But I don’t see the Bitcoin community taking these problems seriously.
For these reasons I believe that Bitcoin is not the future of cryptocurrencies.
If you are interested in purchasing Bitcoins, I show you how to buy Bitcoins on Coinbase.