How and Why Cryptocurrencies Work?
Now that you’ve seen why compared to gold, fiat currencies aren’t real money; it’s time to turn our attention to cryptocurrencies as a solid alternative, why they are much closer to gold than money as we know it today is, and why they’d work better than fiat currencies.
Low Risk of Disruption
According to David John Grundy, the global blockchain head of one of the world’s biggest banks, Danske Bank, the only way anyone can stop or shut blockchains down is by shutting down the Internet itself. And by now, I believe you know that is practically impossible. It’s like saying somebody can keep the sun from shining or the wind from blowing.
Unlike fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies can be easily transferred from one account to another using online gadgets such as computers, tablets or even smartphones. With fiat currencies, you’ll need to do so physically or through the same bank. Plus, you don’t have to bring them with you physically because they’re stored in the Internet. So you can go anywhere with a good Internet connection and bring your cryptocurrencies with you regardless of the amount!
Better Value Storage
You can only consider an asset as a good value storage if it’s able to keep relatively unchanged levels of utility or satisfaction over time. Applying this to financial assets, it means having the ability to maintain purchasing power over time. A financial asset’s ability to keep value can be estimated through what is called as fundamental analysis, which takes into consideration both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of such an asset.
The ability to keep or store value has become the primary foundation for investing or HODLing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others. But can cryptocurrencies be really relied on to store value and if they are, can they do it well?
The Gold Comparison
Don’t be surprised to find cryptocurrencies being compared or likened to precious metals, i.e., Bitcoin to gold and Litecoin or Ether to silver when justifying cryptocurrencies’ ability to store value over the long term. One of the reasons – albeit a shallow one – is the color of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoins are visually represented as color gold while Litecoins are visually represented as silver. But there are more than just visual cues that justify the belief in cryptocurrencies’ ability to store values like the two most precious metals on Earth. We mustn’t dismiss behavioral economics that underlie both asset classes. When more and more people start believing that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, or Litecoin are able to store value the way precious metals like gold and silver can, it can help push the prices of these cryptocurrencies upward. When their prices do go up over time, then it’s highly possible that they’ll be able to keep or maintain their values within a specific period of time.
Comparisons to precious metals, e.g., Bitcoins to gold, can be a very strong factor that can influence the perspective of general markets regarding Bitcoin’s and altcoin’s abilities to retain or store value in the long term. And this can have a huge impact in terms of the number of investors who’ll view cryptocurrencies in general as good investment vehicles.
Limited Quantity, i.e., Deflationary
Just like gold in its physical form, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin typically have a limited quantity of units, which is defined or set in their respective blockchain protocols. Bitcoin, for example, has a cap of only 21 million units that can ever be created. Litecoin on the other hand has an 84- million unit cap that’s also controlled by its operating protocols. This is what makes cryptocurrencies deflationary or disinflationary over the long haul.
Remember our discussion earlier on supply and demand and how asset values are affected by changes in both? Because cryptocurrencies have a fixed number of units that will ever be minted, their supplies relative to the quantities of goods and services it can buy in the future is effectively shrinking. That means its purchasing power can be expected to increase over the long haul and can have deflationary effects on goods and services.
Independence from Other Asset Classes
Compared to all other financial asset classes such as stocks or fiat currencies whose values fluctuate depending on the pronouncements or moves made by central bankers or financial regulators, the real value of gold and silver can’t be manipulated by any central monetary authority regardless of their macro-policy decisions. Because of its autonomy from any monetary authority, precious metals like gold and silver are able to withstand price shocks over time, which makes them very good storages of value in the long term
Cryptocurrencies are like gold in that they’re generally decentralized and autonomous by nature. This means just like gold, government decisions or policy changes have little direct impact, if at all, on their long-term values. The amount of decentralization and autonomy can be a hot discussion topic among cryptocurrency users and investors, where some favor the full autonomy version while others feel more comfortable with some compromise, i.e., hybrid combinations of some form of governance (not from the government) and decentralization. In general, cryptocurrency governance models can vary greatly with some adopting a balanced power structure among its users when it comes to major decision making on one end while others go for the benevolent dictatorship model on the other hand. And in between the two are various other combination or hybrid models. But generally speaking, cryptocurrencies with more decentralized systems may do a better risk in terms of hedging against the risk of their values being influenced or tampered with by regulators.
Underlying or Intrinsic Values
Assets that are considered to be true storages of value have underlying characteristics that serve as foundations for their values. In layman’s terms, such assets have intrinsic utility values, i.e., practical uses that give them their values. Gold, for example, is used for manufacturing jewelry and electronic parts such as semi-conductors. Land or real estate’s underlying value or utility is their capacity for having structures built upon them and the amount of foot traffic their areas get.
When it comes to underlying utility value, cryptocurrencies have a lot of potential. In particular, cryptocurrencies hold a huge promise in terms of changing the way financial transactions are done online, which include contracts enforcement, records keeping, and payments. As the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ether becomes accepted in more and more markets, their practical utility values increase even more, which can increase their values over the long haul.
Impossible To Fake
The blockchain technology is a revolutionary one in terms of facilitating online transactions and data or record keeping. Being such, it’s practically impossible to produce counterfeit versions of it. And as blockchains continue to evolve, it becomes even more impossible – if such a term exists – to produce fake cryptocurrencies that can be used to buy stuff.
Impossible to Control
Particularly for cryptocurrencies whose market capitalizations are already in the billions of dollars such as Bitcoin and Ether, one would need a huge amount of money to transact enough units of such cryptocurrencies just to be able to influence or manipulate their prices. When you take a look at Bitcoin, for example, whose average market capitalization hovers somewhere around US$50 billion, one would need at least US$10 billion to play around just to be able to manipulate demand and supply. Even if you’re talking about Ether, whose average market cap is much smaller at “only” around US$25 billion to US$30 billion, one would still need a couple of billion dollar worth of transactions just to sway prices to his or her favor.
The Little Guy Gets In More
Unlike stocks and other financial assets that require relatively high amounts of investment capital, cryptocurrencies have low barriers to entry. That means even people who only have relatively small amounts of money to invest can easily get in. As such, cryptocurrencies, in general, have a higher number of investors participating in them to the point that it becomes practically impossible to manipulate the market.
Lastly, cryptocurrencies are virtually impossible to rob if you do your homework of using the right kind of storage, which we’ll talk about later. But if you just leave them in your cryptocurrency exchange account, that’s the only time when it’s at high risk of being hacked and stolen. So if you follow my advice later on regarding storage of your Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies, you can make your cryptocurrencies so safe that they’ll be practically impossible to steal.