The New World of Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency & Blockchain


Now for something completely different..

If you’re like me, then you couldn’t give a rat’s clacker about the “vote” (actually a survey so no one has won anything) being colourfully brandished all over social media like an obnoxious, spoiled child with a new toy. So, let me give you something different to consider.

Who here has heard of blockchain? Not many. Okay, what about cryptocurrency? A few more. How about Bitcoin? Ah, there we go.

As I ask different people about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general, I get mixed responses, from “I wish I knew about it earlier to get involved,” to “only criminals use bitcoin.” The overall understanding of it appears to be minimal to none.

Blockchain, ie, a chain of blocks. From Wikipedia.

So let’s get the basics out of the way. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency (and there are many crypto coins out there) that runs on blockchain technology. Bitcoin was the first utiliser of this technology to survive and has grown astoundingly in the last 12 months, almost reaching $10,000 AUD – at the time of writing it is currently sitting on $7,839.51 AUD. More and more people are getting involved in investing in cryptocurrencies and mining; mining being a process using computing power to solve incredibly complex algorithms and create more virtual/digital coin.

This coin can then be traded at super-tiny fractions like regular currency. The upside is that there are no banking regulations or currency conversions required. That purchase someone made of 0.0056 bitcoin from the USA to Germany makes it into their account in ten to thirty minutes, any time day or night – no waiting for banks to clear, convert etc.

There’s not just Bitcoin, although that is the one everyone knows, like a Jacuzzi being a brand of hot tub and not the name of every hot tub. A lot of companies have taken cryptocurrency as a form of start-up funding for their business. A great example is an Aussie app called CanYa.

They are currently in their release stage and they used their own coins, before they have gone on the market into the crypto world, as funding for their app. Customers can use this coin within their app as well as local currency. I’ve been watching this grow from the initial coin offering (ICO) and liken it to a mix of crowd funding, like Indigogo, and a company going public and offering shares. Although you don’t own a share of a company, the coin’s value will rise and fall with support for the company and their coin.

Other cryptocurrencies are less based on a product like CanYa or Golem (offering a decentralised supercomputer to rent) and more on the actual technology of the blockchain. Ethereum and Cardano are two such companies where their business is to create a blockchain system that other companies can ustilise. This technology is not just for sending currency, as banks around the world including Westpac have been testing. The UN, whom as regular readers would know I’m not the biggest fan of, have started trialing the use of blockchain technology to help distribute food for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Personal bias aside from the UN and the Middle East, the fact that this technology is being used in practical, real world situations is a great indication of the potential of this new technology. Even mining Bitcoin is getting to the point where the algorithms are getting so complex it will motivate the nerdier elements of society to push forward in creating quantum computing.

And for the nay-sayers of the world, I would like to point out a few things that have happened in the last couple of months alone regarding cryptocurrency. Japan has allowed crypto currency to be traded as legal tender; China banned and closed all crypto exchanges only to reopen them all; in Vegas there are ATMs where you can withdraw USD from Ethereum; and right now I can pay all of my bills, or deposit to a bank account with bitcoin from a website.

Photo by Francis Storr

This is a really interesting world that we are in right now with this sort of technology. I recommend people delve in and do some research and if you feel confident enough, invest in it. I have been getting much enjoyment from watching my funds bounce all over the place in response to different happenings in the crypto world. I get more entertainment from it than from my shares, as crypto markets don’t close like stock markets and they are more volatile, because nerds will always go to extremes when reacting.

Just, as with all things that involve money, watch out for scams; if it sounds too good to be true then it is.

I hope this has sparked a bit of interest in you to research further.

Drive safe.