Bitcoin’s Influence on Everyday Life and Cultural Landscapes

It’s been a while since Bitcoin has left the internet’s basement to revolutionize the world. Now, it almost feels like it has always been here, attracting big-league investors and concerning national authorities. It’s also easy to forget that less than 15 years ago, one would have to bargain a lot to buy pizzas with a now-millionaire sum of 10,000 BTC. 

How did it go from pizzas to shaking the foundations of the financial market worldwide and a token of cultural changes?

Unfettered Innovation   

Bitcoin isn’t the first cryptocurrency but the first to succeed. Early attempts date back to the 90s. None of them were like Bitcoin, though, and those initiatives were quite short-lived. Nevertheless, they spearheaded technologies later incorporated by Bitcoin, such as digital signatures and cryptography.

Bitcoin went way beyond its predecessors. It’s the first truly decentralized cryptocurrency with a secure and transparent system that records every transaction. It’s impossible to talk about bitcoins without mentioning the technology that hosts it: blockchain. The white paper for blockchain technology was published under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. One year later, Satoshi Nakamoto launched both technologies. 

Much More Than Pizza

Nowadays, it’s very easy to buy things online using cryptos. Famous brands like Shopify, Burger King, CheapFlight, and Gyft, among many others, accept payments in BTC. It can also be used for online entertainment in a crypto casino or platforms like Twitch.

Decentralization in the Center of the Debate

Decentralization is arguably the most revolutionary feature brought by the father of cryptocurrencies. Decentralization means that transactions and records can’t be altered or regulated by anyone, or any official authority for that matter. Bitcoin’s value can’t be controlled by central banks and oscillates according to the market’s mood.

National governments worldwide are concerned about cryptocurrencies, which can facilitate financial crimes like money laundering and tax evasion. Many countries tried and still try to enforce straight-out bans. However, it’s impossible to shut Bitcoin’s system down, and such prohibitions mostly resulted in users moving to the black market. 

Unsurprisingly, countries that once were stringent against cryptos are now lifting bans and developing new regulations. Such is the case of Nigeria, which saw crypto transactions rising year after year despite extremely restrictive laws. 

Cultural Changes

Nigeria also provides a striking example of cultural changes brought by the crypto craze. In 2020, the country was shaken by one of the largest protests in its history. The riots started as a protest against police brutality. 

Soon, it became a nationwide wave of protests, met with repression and countless arrests. The government also closed bank accounts suspected of funding the movement. Demonstrators bypassed the restriction by raising donations in bitcoins, keeping their funds out of reach of national authorities.  

Bitcoin is a cultural phenomenon as much as it is a financial breakthrough. However, the loudest voices fuelling the hype don’t come from expert economists. Influencers are the authority here: social media celebrities, popular politicians, Elon Musk, and the president of El Salvador, who’s kind of a mix between them. 

The crypto community is large, vibrant, and organized enough to coordinate collective actions on specialized forums. It’s also attracting younger generations to the investment world, who are tech-savvy, unafraid of its volatility, and fond of its unruly nature. 

Austine Ikeru
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