Nowadays, even if you are not interested in the economy, you might have heard about bitcoin. Bitcoin is a kind of Cryptocurrency. Perhaps you may know bitcoin as Virtual Money. But Cryptocurrency and Virtual Money are slightly different because of the crypto and lack of a total intervention system. In Korea, bitcoin was introduced as Virtual Money, but it was a mistake done by the media and some of those articles have now been modified. So what is cryptocurrency? You can find out about it in this article. But first we will briefly check the concept of currency.
The transformation of currency: from shells to bills
Currency is the medium invented to replace bartering. The beginning of currency started as shells found in the oceans. After that, it changed into gold, silver and copper coins. Nowadays, we use currency called bills and coins. The common feature of present-day and middle-age currency, is that they are really hard to reproduce or copy. The value of the currency increases when it is hard to duplicate.
Have you heard of cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency’s most characteristic feature is a blockchain technology. What is blockchain? Here is an easy explanation: when you do a transaction with this kind of currency, you have to prove that it is actual currency. In typical cases, the certification ledger is highly secured to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. But in a blockchain certification ledger, it is literally everywhere around the world because the ledger is in the cryptocurrency users’ ledger. So when a transaction occurs, the certification program compares each ledger with an opponent ledger and many other countless ledgers around the world. That makes it almost impossible to make a fake currency.
Bitcoin is the world’s first and most popular cryptocurrency. It was invented in 2009 based on a thesis written by Nakamoto Satoshi. Through bitcoin, we can transport money without a bank so remittance charge is very low and no qualification is required for opening an account. Another interesting feature of bitcoin is that there is a limited amount of bitcoin. Bitcoin’s total amount is 21 million. This can bring discussions like, ‘It’s such a small amount for the worldwide market’. But there is no need for worrying about the value because it is limited and one bitcoin can be divided into eight digits below the decimal point.
Logically, altcoin is a term referring to cryptocurrency other than bitcoin. Short for ‘Alternative coin’, there are many kinds of altcoin such as Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Monero, EOS. Altcoin is growing, and has a high potential growth rate. However there is also the possibility of being delisted so all of the value of an altcoin can disappear overnight.
Experiencing the bitcoin in real life
In Korea, the first bitcoin use was at a bakery in Incheon on December 2013. You can find which store is bitcoin use available by using Coinmap and there are approximately 80 stores in Korea. However you should check twice before using your bitcoin because many of the bitcoin available stores are not available anymore for various reasons, like the lack of bitcoin users, or the owners changing their minds, and many other reasons. There was an internet cafe in Korea that was bitcoin available but it was canceled because of the fluctuating price of bitcoin. Bitcoin is a wonderful concept for future currency but due to its unstable value and the absence of a supervisory system, bitcoin is a little difficult to use in real life.
Gazuaaa! Sounds familiar?
Bitcoin created a new meme called ‘Gazuaaaa!’ which means ‘let’s go’ in Korean. Because of the rapid changing of bitcoin prices, people get anxious. So when the value of bitcoin goes down, investors say they should all go to the Han River to commit suicide as a joke. A game called ‘Hearthstone’ quickly absorbed the Gazua meme to advertise a catchphrase like this ‘Hearthstone access Gazuaa!’
Cryptocurrency may sound unfamiliar because the concept doesn’t sound easy. Also it is clear that cryptocurrency isn’t ready for us in real life. Just like the self-driving system, technology is upon us but it is hard to adjust quickly. However it will not be long before we must embrace it to keep up with the trend whether we like it or not. Just a few years ago no one imagined a world with smartphones, but today it is rather hard to imagine a world without them. It is definite that a time will come when we all will use some kind of cryptocurrency. So till that day will comes, let’s hope you don’t feel a vague aversion or ‘I don’t like change mode’. Because the faster you embrace, the more benefit you get.
Bang Do-won, Reporter