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Bitcoin Arrives

Would you buy a share of Berkshire-Hathaway for $1,000? Do you currently trust moving your money into gold? What if there was a similar vehicle available to the public that could fuse both financial promises with a third, yet more compelling promise – to literally change the world. What then?

There are few watershed moments in human history that have drastically altered our existence. Johannes Gutenberg’s adaptation of a technology that had been used in Asia for centuries led to an explosion of new ideas. The moveable type printing press, it has now been observed, helped Europeans greatly increase their communication and spread of ideas. This led to major shifts such as the Protestant Reformation, in which Martin Luther utilized the power of the printing press to share his Ninety Five Theses – each challenging the authority of the Catholic Church over the sale of indulgences.

With a chink in the religious armor of the Church, Europe began to convulse. Soon political changes began to sweep across Europe and the monopoly of people’s souls, owned by the Catholic Church for roughly 1,000 years, was challenged. The middle men to God were bypassed and people began to take control over their own destinies.

Does Bitcoin, a simple digital currency or cyptocurrency, really expect to deliver on the stuff of epic Biblical proportion? If you are attending the North American Bitcoin Conference, you may be on board with such beliefs.

Roger Ver, a venture capitalist who developed his economic acumen through dealing in used Cisco memory and networking equipment, has become a prolific Bitcoin startup investor and arguably the movement’s unofficial spokeperson. He likens Bitcoin to humanity’s greatest invention since the Internet and cites the cryptocurrency’s ability to transform human life.

Matthew Roszak, who is a co-founder and vice chairman of Silk Road Equity and has invested in excess of $1 billion in various ventures, summed up the potential of Bitcoin best during a panel of venture capitalists at the North American Bitcoin Conference. Roszak stated, “Bitcoin is freedom.”

Regardless of where you stand on Bitcoin, it cannot be denied that the current economic global situation is dire and also, like Europe’s religious situation during the 16th century, in need of reform.

The central bank experiment, which really started to gain traction in Europe as far back as the time of the Renaissance, has yielded many mixed results. Some cite the many positives it has delivered to modern societies as our money supply has become more plentiful to allow for the growth of new industries and technologies. It has allowed for the use of capital for risky investment and speculation, leading to advancements in many phases of life on Earth. Then there are those that have characterized the central banking system as a shackle to control humanity by setting the value of currencies while also creating rapid inflation the likes of which the Weimar Republic of Germany still serve as a cautionary tale. Furthermore, some plead for the dissolution of a government’s ability to simply print money at will, which not only leads to inflation, but allows for more sinister activities such as funding wars and other horrific measures that destroy lives on the planet.

Such is the philosophy behind the creation of Bitcoin. It boasts to be a decentralized currency that is going to have a limited run and be available to people for creating direct transactions between one another. It eliminates the need for a middle man and offers low to no fees.

The currency’s value, however, has been mostly speculative. Since its inception in 2009, the value of Bitcoin has had dramatic rises with some serious retracements.

Some of that speculation seems to have dampened when China made the decision to ban Bitcoin from its banking system. Yet China doesn’t seem to be able to pick winners in the tech industry as they also banned Facebook which only continues to see growth.

The US, however, could prove vital to Bitcoin’s future. Officials in the US are looking into what kinds of regulations need to be considered. New York is scheduled to have a public hearing on virtual currencies on January 28th and 29th which will do a lot to determine the future of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies in the US market.

One message resounded clearly from the North American Bitcoin Conference and that is, virtual currencies, whether it be Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or Litecoin, are here to stay and are not going anywhere. The need is there and the transformative nature of the technology is much needed to help with economic reform. Various venture capitalists and other investors have stated they intend to target the platform of digital currencies in regards to potential startups. David Aylor, an attorney from South Carolina, has a client who is alleged to be involved in the first seizure of Bitcoins by the US government. Aylor offered some legal perspective in pointing out that although many websites offer the sale of illegal goods and/or services, they serve as tools to be used by the community. Digital currencies, much like traditional currencies, can be used for good or ill and should be considered tools as well.

So it is with digital currencies. Many will cite the potential for transforming society, others will point to their filling a potential need for economic reform. There are many companies and startups that are forming now with the potential to grow the industry and meet the needs of its future customers. Whether or not backing its transformative nature proves to be hyperbolic or predictive, there is no doubt that the digital currency industry is here to stay and is poised for tremendous growth potential.