Roger Ver gave this speech at Coin Congress in Singapore in May entitled “Why Bitcoin is Important for the World.” It is a sort of quick introduction into the world of Bitcoin and how Bitcoin can be a powerful tool to promote global understanding and help stop nations from conducting war.
Hi everyone, my name is Roger Ver. I have a feeling I’m going to be preaching to the choir for the most part here, but can I see a real quick show of hands? Who here has wondered and is kind of interested in learning about Bitcoin, but doesn’t know a whole lot about it? Is there anybody that fits into that category? Okay, that makes it real easy for me. I see one guy that maybe was halfway raising a hand. Okay, don’t be shy. But basically I’m going to be talking about Bitcoin, as you may have guessed, and I’ve been saying it for years and years now, and I’m saying it because I don’t think it’s an exaggeration that Bitcoin is really one of the most important inventions ever. It’s really that important.
Bitcoin: Getting Started
It’s easy. There are all sorts of free wallets. The one I recommend is Blockchain.info. It’s easy to buy Bitcoins. There’s all sorts of places you can do that. If you’re from the U.S. or live in the U.S. or have a U.S. bank account, Coinbase.com, again, is fantastic. There are all sorts of places that you can use to spend your Bitcoins. In fact, I even bought my plane tickets to come here to Singapore with Bitcoins. You can buy just about anything at this point. A real question is what can’t you buy with Bitcoins at this point? And there aren’t too many things on that list.
Why it’s so important
Bitcoin, is the first time in the entire history of the world in which anyone can transact with anyone else anywhere in the world, and without asking for permission from any bank or government or politician or any other human being, for that matter. Two people can interact with each other anywhere on the planet without requiring permission from anybody else, and that’s really revolutionary. That’s never existed before, ever.
And the way it works is through this revolutionary invention called the Bitcoin Blockchain or the Blockchain in general, which is a public ledger that allows anybody to see what’s going on and make sure that people aren’t spending the same Bitcoins twice. It’s in an open, decentralized network. Anybody with programming skills can read the software code. If you can’t read it, you can read what all sorts of other people who can have to say about it. So you don’t have to just believe me or any one corporation or entity. It’s out there for the entire world to look at and audit and check. And the same is true of lots of the different Bitcoin clients as well.
I got so excited once I realized the characteristics of Bitcoin make it the best form of money the world has ever seen. And the characteristics of good money are that it’s harder – in Bitcoins’ case, basically impossible – to counterfeit. It’s scarce. There’s a limited supply. We cannot say that about the U.S. dollar or Euros or Yen. Governments can print them at will any time for any reason. Bitcoins are easily divisible. Currently, they can be divided down to a one hundred millionth of a Bitcoin. Homogeneous. All Bitcoins are the same. Each one is tracked individually, but at this point no Bitcoin is considered really to be worth more than any other Bitcoin, which is a characteristic that’s shared with gold.
Durable. Bitcoins are, I guess, more durable than pieces of paper in your wallet or even precious metals for that point. Bitcoins last forever, as long as you keep the information stored somewhere. Talk about easy to transport. You can send a million dollars worth of Bitcoin from Singapore to Moscow or London or South America or absolutely anywhere instantly for free, and it’s impossible for anyone to block you from sending or receiving that payment. Try doing that with a wire transfer or a suitcase full of pieces of paper or gold. You can’t do it. But with Bitcoin, you absolutely can. And with Bitcoin, it’s easy to store. You can keep any amount of Bitcoin right there in your pocket or on any other computing device, or you can even print them out onto pieces of paper. So all of those things together just make Bitcoin really, it’s the best form of money the world has ever seen.
But don’t lose your money
Be safe with your Bitcoins. All that’s required to spend a Bitcoin is the private key. So when you have Bitcoins, make sure that you’re storing that private key yourself. Don’t trust that to somebody else to store for you, unless you feel that you are not capable of doing that and you’re absolutely horrible at computer security, I suppose, or even physical security with pieces of paper. But the big problem, for those of you that are aware, with Mt. Gox recently was a Bitcoin exchange that lost somewhere around 600,000 to 800,000 Bitcoins of other people’s money. The reason that was possible is because other people entrusted them to hold their Bitcoins for them. With wallets likeBlockchain.info – the one I recommend – nobody but you has access to the private keys to spend your Bitcoins. So use a wallet like Blockchain.info or Electrum or the Satoshi QT client or Armory or any of these in which you’re storing the private key. If you have any significant amount of Bitcoins, that’s definitely the way to go. Don’t trust other people to hold your Bitcoins is the short version there.
Regulation is changing
I think we saw a real similar picture a presentation or two ago. We’ll see what happens in the future, but at the end of the day, Bitcoin is simply a peer-to-peer protocol. There’s no central office. There’s no central server. There’s no central place that even if all of these countries listed on the map here turn red and didn’t like Bitcoin at all, that wouldn’t stop Bitcoin. The only way to stop Bitcoin would be to shut down the entire internet in the entire world. And lots of people, we hear speculating, “Oh, Bitcoin’s going to be $10,000 or $100,000 or maybe even $1 million for one single Bitcoin. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what price Bitcoin is. You can still use it to send money anywhere in the world instantly basically for free, whether one Bitcoin is worth one penny or $1 million. It still works the same.
by Roger Ver,