Whenever discussing bitcoin, I always keep these points in mind. During discussion, I make sure to cover each point and not dwell on any one topic unless the other person is engaged. Belief systems are constructed from many ideas and concepts, so to convey the importance of bitcoin, you need to show that the system does not offer any one incremental advantage, but a veritable smorgasbord of new concepts never encountered before in history.
- Decentralised and free from control
- No regulations: while the advantages of decentralization might not seem at first apparent, consider that a decentralized structure constitutes an incorruptible medium. This is the first time we have such technology.
- Always running
- No bank holidays, no weekend breaks. Bitcoin is running. As long as the internet is up somewhere in the world, bitcoin is running.
- Bitcoin has no borders. It does not discriminate against or classify or limit its users based on location or citizenship.
- No/low fees
- I can at this very moment send thousands of dollars anywhere in the world at no cost.
- New privacy model
- Bitcoin provides anonymity with merchant sites. Only when trading platforms (exchanges) are presented with a warrant or the user willingly provides his or her identification can one’s personal information be accessed.
- Bitcoin is 100% transparent. While users need not disclose which bitcoin wallet is theirs, every transaction ever made in the system is public record allowing for an open world.
- A bitcoin is divisible to 8 decimal places and in the future perhaps more. Microtransactions are truly a possibility. In this way bitcoin is not only advancing modern methods but creating potentially new markets which may have drastic impact on society. (media, internet culture, crowd sourcing, donating)
- Playstation being hacked resulted in 77 million compromised accounts, that is more than 1% of the entire planet. Had your credit card details been stolen, a malicious hacker could withdraw money from your account. If you paid in bitcoins, this would be an impossibility. Sure there are services with fraud protection, but these are subsidized by the commercial gains from the client.
- Bitcoin uses the latest encryption technology. While underdeveloped merchant sites may not be safe, you would not blame visa or mastercard if you put your card number of an unsafe site. The actual bitcoin protocol is very safe. Before it is compromised, our societal infrastructure would collapse due to it being built on weaker systems.
- Fast transfers
- Irregardless of geographical distance, you have a payment go through in under an hour. No longer are we at the mercy of week long payments or waiting weeks because of banking inefficiencies. Anybody who has travelled can attest to the nightmare of the finance system across borders.
- No chargebacks
- Selling digital goods is currently not possible due to friendly fraud. Bitcoin does not have chargebacks and friendly fraud is impossible.
- Environmentally friendly / efficient
- Market driven infrastructure ensures cost savings as participants are forced to compete through the algorithmic adjustment. People find more efficient ways to process transactions due to financial incentive from the system. This drives power usage right down.
Credit goes partially to Donald Norman, who gradually compiled this list with me during the last few months.
Julian Tosh sent me this additional point:
- Nobody could understand the benefits of digital media when it first appeared- there did not seem to be any gain. Bitcoin is digital cash. All of the benefits of digitalised media for cash that we have not yet imagined. “Back that shit up, keep it encrypted offline, stored in multiple locations for ultimate redundant security, …”