As increasing numbers of companies, both old and new, take the blockchain concept behind Bitcoin and adapt it to other uses, it’s easy to lose sight of something pretty basic: Bitcoin was not created as just an operating system, but as an actual currency that could be used to execute transactions.
The distributed ledger that enables those transactions was, for sure, a stroke of genius, but if Bitcoin as an entirety rather than just the blockchain concept is to survive and fulfill its potential, then increasing the number of transactions is essential.
For individuals who believe in the concept of a peer to peer currency, however, there is a limited amount that can be done to spread the word. Preaching at social gatherings can rapidly turn you into the insurance salesman at the party, lecturing others that they should be prepared and making it clear that you have the answer.
That strategy is particularly ineffective when talking to the millennial generation who are the key to Bitcoin’s future. They have no experience of inflation, so find it hard to see the benefits of a currency with limited supply, and they possess the sense of invincibility that only the young can ever feel.
A while back, though, I stumbled upon a solution that others may wish to adopt. I was trying to think of something to give as a wedding gift to the son of a good friend and his bride. I wanted it to be something that they could keep rather than something immediate, but their circumstances posed a unique problem. He was, and still is, an active duty, career military guy. The likelihood of frequent deployments and postings made something that would have to be packed and shipped regularly more of a liability than a gift.
Eventually I hit on a solution that was transportable, potentially useful even on overseas deployment, and had the capacity to actually appreciate rather than be frittered away. I bought the couple 1 Bitcoin. I had to explain to them what it was, how to set up a wallet to receive it to and a few other things, but, being tech savvy young people, that was not too difficult.
It so happens that the wedding was around a year ago; the Bitcoin that I gave to them was, at that time, worth just under $250. After I had explained the limited issuance of Bitcoin as opposed to the constant printing of conventional money and the simple supply and demand factors that made appreciation over time more likely than not, they made a decision to wait for a while before spending any of the coin.
Now, about a year later and with BTC/USD at over $450 they have decided to spend about one third of their Bitcoin, using merchants that will accept it as payment so as to avoid having to exchange it themselves. They will still have more than the initial value of the gift, and intend to spend some each time the value of their holding gets back to around $450.
Of course BTC/USD could drop; there is always a risk with any investment. In this case, however, it has worked out in many ways. They have had fun tracking the progress of their investment, have ended up buying something that they want, and still have money in their wallet. From a broader perspective, though, they have, albeit microscopically, increased the number of Bitcoin transactions and will probably continue to do so.
It is possible that most people interested in Bitcoin have already given the currency as a gift, but if not it is something that you may wish to consider. In some ways it is even a self serving gift; increased activity can only help the value of the Bitcoin that you don’t give away. It is, however, more about it being a simple way of increasing awareness and usage of digital currency – and that is a gift that keeps on giving.