Vishal Gupta’s ears ring with the sound of coins he can’t touch. The 34-year-entrepreneur was gifted a single bitcoin, then worth a mere Rs 3,100, back in 2011 and it got him hooked on to the idea of virtual money. Today, one bitcoin is worth close to Rs 40,000 and Gupta is waiting for India to realise that the currency is valuable not just in itself, but also for what it’s starting to represent.
It’s been around only since 2009. It circulates only as strings of code through a network of servers across the world. But Gupta believes bitcoin is the ideal monetary system for our connected, wired, post-recession world. “Cash is unwieldy and unsafe. Cheques and credit cards need banks,” he points out. “But banks are incentivised to take risks, so they keep making a mess and get bailed out at the literal cost of the people.”
Bitcoin is different. “It is operated by the very people who use it, so it offers the accountability and trust that our banks cannot,” he says. “It also has no geographical boundaries. Unlike a dollar, a dirham or a rupee, a bitcoin has the same value the world over.” The idea