Since the intent of this article is to bridge a divide, let us begin on that which we agree. Following the invention of Bitcoin, there has been a widespread embrace of digital monies – work has continued on the Bitcoin code.
And it has remained the most valued and widely used digital money even as its supporters splintered into factions and various alternatives emerged.
Still, an honest assessment of this landscape means that, in 2021, we are faced with a question: What should we make of Bitcoin?
And by extension, what should we make of the thousands of competing cryptocurrencies claiming to usurp or improve on its invention?
Universally acknowledged is the observation that Bitcoin exists apart from the state and that its principal achievement is global money defined by transparent issuance, equitable audibility, and, perhaps most notably, a finite supply of monetary units.
These are important arguments for Bitcoin, and it is not the intent of this article to diminish them. Yet, we’d be remiss not to note these articles often stop short of answering a natural second-order question.
Namely, since most cryptocurrencies share these properties, what allows Bitcoin advocates to claim it ensures these rights better than alternatives?
Taken one step further, if Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are indeed different types of economic systems, how specifically are they different?
Finally, why do these differences matter to users when both systems enable opportunities for new kinds of applications and exchange?
As this article will attempt to argue, the unspoken answer is that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency offer contrasting visions for how the financial rights of users should be protected and managed.
Far from esoteric, the implications of this division should be of interest to every market observer as they stand to affect millions – if not billions – as Bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption grows.