For centuries, banks have been in charge of generating and controlling people's money. In the current financial structure, central banks and, by extension, governments, are in charge of issuing the new banknotes, when they decide. This scheme, which allows the creation of new money whenever the government needs it, allows them to increase their reserves, but with the consequence that the value of the savings in that currency decreases to the citizens.
money, issued by central banks, only reaches the average user through private banks, which are responsible for storing money, issuing debit and credit cards, giving loans and financing projects, among other activities. This type of entities, to obtain economic benefits from the deposits made by users, lend your money to other people, with payment terms and interest rates that will be used to finance the structure. This means that, when your money is in your account, it does not really belong to you. Therefore, banks impose limits and restrictions, so basically you can not control at all something that should be yours alone.
Such scheme has been responsible for different financial crises, such as the mortgage crisis of 2007 and the subsequent global financial crisis, which began in 2008 and has generated problems in the world's leading economies. These episodes, which accelerate inflation in the affected countries, decrease the value of citizens' money, which impacts their savings and purchasing power.
To deal with these problems, Satoshi Nakamoto created ] a technology that does not depend on banks and gives users full control over their money. One of the mechanisms to avoid the voluntary inflation of fiduciary money, which is manipulated by the central banks, in this case is the fixation of a total supply, which can not be manipulated. Thus, there will only be 21 million BTC, which will end up being mined around the year 2140.
The issue of this money, in addition, does not depend on a central institution, but allows any person with the necessary means (mining equipment) create your money as a reward for your work, by solving mathematical problems and creating the blocks that record transactions and validate the network. By mining the last bitcoin, the miners will continue to process the transactions and earn the amount of commissions that are paid.
Unlike the governments and the central banks with the money fiat, there is no entity that can emit more bitcoins than scheduled. Each BTC that a miner earns is a direct reward of the work he or she has done and belongs to a pre-established program. This new scheme, by taking away the power to control the value of the asset to any centralized entity, gives people more control over their money and provides financial autonomy that can not be achieved with currencies created by governments.
Some people argue that bitcoin can not be a reliable payment method or a reserve of value due to the volatility of its price, much higher than the fiduciary currencies. However, this is because the technology is still growing. As predicted by Saifedean Ammous in The Bitcoin Standard : "as market size grows, along with the sophistication and depth of the financial institutions involved with Bitcoin, this volatility will likely decrease."
For the user who will not invest in mining, Bitcoin continues to represent a safe alternative that allows him to control his money, and these two actors benefit mutually. Those who use bitcoin to make payments use the miners who process the transactions and keep the network secure, while the miners benefit from the adoption of bitcoin as a means of payment, since the more it is used, the greater will be your profit This dynamic, which levels all the actors of the ecosystem, differs from the verticality that occurs in relations with centralized institutions, in which clients must blindly entrust their money to banks. It is also important to note that, no matter who or where you are, literally anyone can participate in Bitcoin, either as a miner, as a user or as a developer.
Another advantage of Bitcoin with respect to the system Banking, which is directly related to the control of money itself, is resistance to any kind of external constraint. Anyone can own and transfer the amount of BTC that they want to anywhere in the world, in a few minutes, without limitations or threat of freezing their funds. Although in some jurisdictions there may be legal obstacles, especially when exchanging BTCs for fiduciary currency, this problem occurs precisely when using banks and not when transferring between two Bitcoin addresses.
As we already mentioned, private banks, which They store and control people's money, they usually place withdrawal or transfer limits and, in the case of any operation they consider unusual, they can freeze the client's assets. In the case of making international money transfers, banks usually take days and demand a large amount of commissions and documents, while with Bitcoin a transaction can cross any border in minutes and much cheaper.
Bitcoin represents a threat to the banking institution precisely because it offers people a means of saving and payment that does not depend on them. Bitcoin takes power away from the bank and, logically, feeling that they become dispensable to a sector that previously depended only on them, the institution defends and counterattacks.
The recent statements of Agustín Carstens, general director of the Bank of International Settlements (called the central bank of the central banks), are revealing in this aspect. The central point of his intervention is that cryptocurrencies are not money because of the way they are created. That is, only what a central bank creates as money is considered money, because the bank is the one that has control of finances. However, this is not the case: not because bitcoin is created differently, it ceases to be money, since it is also governed by the rules of the market. It is the users who give it value.
Another "argument" that banks often use against cryptocurrencies is that their pseudo-anonymity can be used to facilitate illegal activities. However, representatives of the traditional financial system seem to forget that the business of war and drug trafficking takes decades and money laundering was not created 10 years ago with Bitcoin. Fiduciary money is the main instrument for the legitimization of capital and this money passes, precisely, through banks. On the contrary, the transparency provided by Bitcoin, in whose blockchain any person anywhere in the world with access to the Internet can trace the origin of currencies, does not facilitate but hinders its use for illicit businesses. In fact, a few months ago, at the beginning of April, an international police operation managed to dismantle a money laundering network that used cryptocurrencies precisely because of this characteristic; something that banks do not have, whose transparency can be called into question.
Other characters, in an attempt to be falsely receptive with Bitcoin, announce that the blockchain is good, but cryptocurrency is not so good and that they will integrate this technology in their platforms or organizations; but the chain of blocks, without the monetary incentive, is just a public and digital accounting book. By adopting blockchain, the bank is taking advantage of a name that has become popular without really changing its function with respect to its clients. A cryptocurrency, as it was devised from the beginning, should be a decentralized platform in which users anywhere, unrelated, verify the transactions in the accounting book (blockchain) and receive a monetary benefit for performing this task.
Despite Bitcoin's progress and growth (Carstens claims that the BIS did not speak against cryptocurrencies before because they did not represent a threat, which implies that they may represent it now), the truth is that that the use of banks is still necessary. But it is necessary not because they are a healthy institution that contributes to the growth or functioning of society, they are still necessary because Bitcoin has not been sufficiently adopted. We can not go to the market and pay with bitcoins or cancel the payment of public services, mostly, with this currency, and that is what really forces us to use fiduciary money.
Precisely because of that need they have created, banks have relapsed too much power, a power that is not always well used and can cause problems on a global scale. Therefore, Bitcoin is presented as a much more liberating financial tool.
Although there are services and intermediaries that allow using cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, it is necessary that enthusiasts of this currency disseminate the benefits of this technology. It is necessary to create initiatives that teach the population that they can have full control over their money and that it is not necessary to depend on any third party. Enthusiasts know the advantages of Bitcoin over banks but we must make them known. If we want to really own our money, we have to make it fully fungible.
Featured Image for W.Scott McGill / stock.adobe.com