November 26, 2017 is definitely a historical day in this technological era. According to Bitcoin.com, it was on that day that the whole world watched Bitcoin’s monetary value reach the 10,000 USD mark. On December 16, 2017 it went on to reach its all-time high of 19,192.15 USD.
I knew it was rising… and I refused to buy
I remember these weeks particularly well since I was also watching closely the most valuable cryptocurrency rising to new heights. Although I couldn’t have predicted the peaks in value of Bitcoin or Ethereum (another rising cryptocurrency at the time), I had been observing their growth in real time for all three months preceding their high performance. As a matter of fact, ever since I installed the Coinbase App on my iPhone a few months earlier, I was scrutinizing their fluctuations on a daily basis. I probably knew earlier than a lot of folks that ‘something was up’ with these cryptocurrencies.
I wasn’t part of the happy crowd though. For three months, as I watched these cryptocurrencies rise higher and higher, I made the same decision every single day; I chose not to invest in any of them. I chose so because I wasn’t convinced Bitcoin was an actual legitimate investment vehicle. And while I assume many crypto-investors were counting their 50, 75, 100 and 200 percent return on investment, I was seriously wondering whether I would regret that choice in the future.
I was skeptical
To be honest, I am the last person I would have imagined getting involved with cryptocurrencies. Although I heard about cryptocurrencies from my roommate back in 2014, it never inspired me anything other than skepticism. I often ignored the topic when brought up. And when I did give it some thought, I seriously questioned the moral value of a device that was used either for uneducated speculation or as a means of transactions for drug dealers. Being the kind of guy who appreciates staying out of trouble, these facts were enough to keep me away.
Besides, no one I knew could answer my question: how are cryptocurrencies helpful? Transacting using Bitcoin not only looked unnecessary to me, but it was also impractical. If you wanted to acquire Bitcoins, you had to buy them. Even though one could argue (with difficulty) that obtaining cryptocurrencies is feasible for everyone, very few stores and retailers accepted them. Our good old traditional fiat currencies were much better for buying groceries, shopping, and keeping life simple. So Bitcoin and other crypto stuff were a no-no for me.
It wasn’t until after I graduated from University in 2017 and started working full-time that I revised my position — at least on some aspects. I met colleagues then who were crypto-investors and who also worked on projects related to the blockchain. I intend to explain the blockchain as clearly as I can in my upcoming articles but, until then, my short explanation will be “the technology underlying cryptocurrencies”. That is at least how my new colleagues first defined it to me. Before I had time to decide I would never work on that “sketchy blockchain stuff”, they also mentioned that the blockchain could accomplish much more than operating Bitcoin.
And then I looked into it
I was told for the first time that the blockchain was apparently a network with the unmatched ability to enable transactions between its participants without a third-party while preserving the security and transparency of these transactions. Different ideas came to mind as I contemplated this claim: money transfers without going through a bank or a financial agency, business operations like purchases, sales, and commissions without a middleman. Little room for corruption and privacy breaches. No institution, no corporation, just people connected together through a network. Utopian, I thought, but worth looking into.
I still had questions. “How is the absence of a bank helpful or even reassuring? Isn’t this technology undermining the value of trust upon which society is built? How easy is it to build such a complex system”? I also still had difficulties explaining to others how and why the blockchain could be helpful. That made me see how limited my understanding of its applications was and it was obvious I had a lot of learning to do. The risks of wasted time seemed high but the rewards of discovering a potentially successful technology were motivating. Therefore, I chose to investigate the blockchain technology.
I intend to share more details about my research in my next article. The least I can say is that the more I learned about the blockchain, the more I was fascinated by its potential. I was comforted in my decision to learn about it, and it had nothing to do with Bitcoin and crypto-investments.
Back in December 2017, as Bitcoin hit its highest value, I was wondering whether not buying Bitcoins was a choice I would regret for a long time. I finally concluded that it did not matter: I knew there was much more to the blockchain than Bitcoin, Ethereum, ICOs, etc. And I was ultimately more interested in finding out how the blockchain could really help do more than gambling and facilitating crime. I already believed then that it had good chances to be a technology for tomorrow, beyond the buzz of today.