As Bitcoin’s value surged well past $10,000 per coin, the media’s default description is “bubble” (usually shortly followed by “burst”)
I’m not saying some kind of crash won’t happen, but here are three reasons for a counter-narrative:
- The software behind Bitcoin includes an automated cap on the total number of coins that can ever be created: 21 million. Currently we’re just over two-thirds of the way there.
I’m no economist, but it seems possible that as we reach the limit, the value of each coin will rise, with the increase in value accelerating as we near the limit, hence the steep rises in value we’re seeing now.
- The accepted wisdom for years was that Bitcoin’s value was being propped up by its use on dark web markets, particularly among the drugs trade. This year we’ve seen the take-down of several of the biggest dark web sites, and the currency goes on truckin’.
- There are two groups of people who control Bitcoin, basically: the miners (who check the veracity of every transaction, and are rewarded with fresh Bitcoins), and the coders, who maintain the software behind it.
I’d always felt a key faultline in Bitcoin was its reliance on a level of agreement among these two communities, and that, as the currency grew, it’d be harder to sustain.
Yet this year we’ve seen a radical overhaul of the code behind Bitcoin (a so-called “fork” in the code), and yet again, the currency has proved resilient.
There are existential risks to Bitcoin’s value (mass hacking of exchanges, for example). But the likelihood of a bubble bursting depends what the bubble’s made of, and Bitcoin’s proved remarkably sturdy over the last 8 years.