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Last night after dinner, some people were having some drinks and I picked up the check for a guy and he paid me in Bitcoins. How is that possible? I downloaded an app for my smartphone that serves as my wallet. He scanned my square bar code and sent the money. It arrived an instant later.
Today I bumped into a Bitcoin ATM machine. I could have held up my wallet and withdrawn the cash. Instead, I put cash in and added to my wallet. But then later I found some candy I wanted so I paid in Bitcoin. Later I’m thinking of buying some silver currency from Shire Silver. All this money changing hands, and all in a currency that didn’t exist five years ago.
Pretty mind blowing, isn’t it? It is to me. Most people think of the dollar as money and nothing else. And yet in most times and places currencies have circulated in parallel with each other. So for dollars and Bitcoin to do so is nothing unusual. It is also instantly convertible into any other currency.
What makes Bitcoin different is that it is entirely digital, its quantity in circulation strictly limited and its creation in response to demand until that point determined by miners who have to solve difficult math problems. It is built on top of existing currencies same as the Euro but has a free-floating value relative to them. It is already possible to buy many of life’s daily needs with them, and the idea is spreading. It also happens to be anonymous and exist completely outside the nation state.
Truly, no amount of reading on this subject is as convincing as actually owning and using bitcoins. That’s when the lights come on. I’ve not even owned bitcoin for 24 hours and my mind can’t stop racing about the potential here. It is actually a way for the people to take money back from the state. Remarkable.
The Bitcoin ATM in the image to the right is on display at the Liberty Forum in New Hampshire where I spoke this morning. Of course it is far easier to live a Bitcoin life in this micro-world of radical young entrepreneurs who can easily grasp the dawning of this new world. But so it is with all economic goods. They start as crazy ideas. They are tried by the few. The many sneer and denounce the whole thing. Then one day, everyone is taking it for granted. How so will that be? Might not be long.