Version Espanol: Contacto del primer tipo: A lo lejos [ES]
Previous post Crypto encounter of the different kinds [EN]
I remember when I heard about cryptocurrencies, what a stupidity, let's be honest and talk about exactly what people think and know when they hear the word "CRYPTOCURRENCIES", so, I start again.
I remember when I first heard about BITCOIN, it was in 2013, I was starting to work in a banking company where, both my colleagues and I were new in the team, and the only employees in the Portugal office. The working atmosphere was very friendly, all joking around, very communicative, but to be honest, a bit uneducated in the financial field.
Amidst laughing, fooling around and talking about random topics, one day the topic of BITCOIN came up, a number of new concepts were coming and going; virtual money, "mining" BITCOIN, cost of electricity/profit from the currency, etc. It all sounded like a Cyberpunk and unrealistic movie, which became more ambiguous as the conversations went on, as we were always taught in a "simple and simplified" way that the value of a currency is supported by the equivalence of a resource; e.g. gold reserves, production/extraction capacity of a commodity like oil - or so I thought! Unlike this new BITCOIN currency which, simply at that moment was worth 50 dollars at the exchange rate, just because, and 3 days later it was worth 70 dollars.
This random and rising value raised a lot of alarms and curiosity, which is why I started researching financial concepts, a task that, I confess, turned out to be extremely frustrating. The situation became more tense since, in the very company where I worked, they handled difficult "concepts" or at least it seemed that way and, even when I had researched about the world of finance, I could not understand them, until eventually I understood that these concepts were nothing more than businesses or ways in which different parties (companies and/or people) agreed to manage the money between them. If you look at it in more detail, that also sounded like BITCOIN, i.e. something I don't understand, whose value is agreed out of nothing and, you simply close a deal where there is a risk.
The more you talk about economy, the more you understand that "what seems to be simple on a daily basis, really isn't" and BITCOIN ignited that spark of wanting to know more about what money is, and to find a way to reject, at the time, this new concept of BITCOIN, as it seemed to me that, unlike money, it was based on nothing.
As I researched the subject, I came to understand that the economy is based on a need that someone can fulfil, and that the exchange of that service is done through money, since it is not convenient to carry gold, salt or precious stones in your pockets. Money, moreover, is a resource that we can carry in our wallet, a situation that somehow gives us the certainty that this is the true concept of money and not a virtual thing like BITCOIN. Even so, I did not give up reading about BITCOIN from time to time, and trying to understand it.
I confess that I failed in trying to reject the BITCOIN, because the more you read about economy, the more the idea of BITCOIN ceases to be an ambiguous concept, since, at the end of the day, central banks print money, because they want to, when it suits them or because it is necessary, for whatever reason. How is that different from the BITCOIN's value or that virtual currencies are "mined"? Nothing, it is a printed paper or physically minted metal. So why is it necessary to have another system if this one has worked for decades? The traditional system uses Banks to make decisions and we, the users, must trust that the Banks act in good faith, although this is often not the case. On the contrary, BITCOIN uses the internet and its users, known as "miners", to create that trust, without the need to make decisions other than confirming transactions, in other words, that an amount of BITCOIN leaves one account and arrives in another.
Although I was beginning to understand it, I still rejected BITCOIN, because it was like trying to buy fresh fruit online, nothing assures you that the fruit will arrive in your hands in the same way as if you had picked it directly from the supermarket.
I could go on for hours about BITCOIN technology, but that's not the point of this post, I'll leave that for later.
I found a short animated film that shows how I felt at the time without understanding much: The beginning of BITCOIN
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)