Business & Economics

Bitcoin: What’s Next?

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Bitcoin first started making headlines in 2009 and has continued to grow into one of the world’s most well-recognized, thorough, and usable cryptocurrencies. But with multiple legal controversies and the general public’s skepticism when it comes to something as new as “cryptocurrency,” it’s difficult to tell whether Bitcoin has much of a future. Read on to learn more about the currency and its future.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoins are widely known as a digital or cryptocurrency. Unlike conventional currencies that are regulated by central authorities in their respective regions (such as the Federal Reserve Bank for the United States Dollar), Bitcoin is border-less and managed by a cryptographically-secured peer-to-peer network. The demand for Bitcoins determines their value in the market, and their supply is determined by complex mathematical algorithms developed by the founder–a person who goes by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. This supply generation process is called Bitcoin mining. So, Bitcoins are usually created by being “mined” by computers solving a complex string of processing problems, although one can now purchase existing Bitcoins.

Only fifty were created at the time of the cryptocurrency’s genesis and the maximum number of coins that can be issued is locked at 21 million. Just like the lowest value that the United States dollar can be divided into is one-cent pennies, a Bitcoin can at most be divided into eight decimal places. It gained prominence in April 2013 when its value spiked to $266 US Dollars compared to only $22 earlier that  same year. More than 10 million coins had been issued at that point at a total market value of $2 billion.

Courtesy of

Who likes Bitcoins?

Proponents of the cryptocurrency appreciate its purity in terms of supply and demand without any governmental interference. Bitcoins mitigate privacy concerns because they eliminate the need to enter information such as name and address for online transactions. For many tech aficionados, the cryptocurrency provides the thrill of following a new trend in the virtual world. Bitcoins are now being accepted by many platforms like WikiLeaks, restaurants, mobile payment applications, and retail apps that have partnered with major consumer brands like GAP and Sephora.

A federal district court recently ruled that Bitcoin is indeed a currency, given that it can be either used to purchase goods and services directly, or to purchase currency that can in turn be used to purchase goods and services. According to a study conducted by the European Central Bank, Bitcoins do not pose a risk to price instability given that their supply is capped at 21 million coins, and will not negatively affect  the economy as long as the government monitors it to ensure that its not being used for fraudulent purposes.

Who doesn’t like Bitcoins?

Opponents worry that the unregulated and anonymous nature of cryptocurrency lends itself to be used for illegal trade, tax evasion, money laundering, and investment frauds like Ponzi schemes. Dread Pirate Roberts, the owner of Silk Road, an online drug market in the deep web that is now shutdownblatantly admitted that Bitcoin helped him win the war of drugs against the state.

Opponents also criticize Bitcoin’s algorithmic design for specifically inducing rise and fall in its value. But unlike traditional currencies, Bitcoin is not insured by the government in case it gets devalued enough to cause a major financial crisis in its market. Some claim that Bitcoin is being used more like a stock than a currency and that once the initial hype dies down its value will eventually decrease to nothing because it doesn’t have anything to offer except for its cool factor. Since Bitcoin is primarily digital (though coins are now available), it can be lost forever if a user loses his/her computer or account in which it’s stored.

What’s next for Bitcoin?

Bitcoin’s future is somewhat uncertain. While the cryptocurrency is still growing, there are many concerns that it’s not worth it. Detractors point out things like a possible Ponzi-style scheme involving Bitcoin in North Texas as indicative of the worthlessness of the currency. On the other hand, Bitcoin-based ventures have been growing, such as the development of startups like Coinffeine, which aims to create a new way to exchange Bitcoins. These are just a few examples of the ways in which Bitcoin is slowly breaking its way in into the mainstream, albeit with many setbacks.


Bitcoin. and other similar digital currencies, is just one of many interesting developments that has come about because of the internet. In essence, it’s a pretty revolutionary and fascinating idea, but whether or not it is actually good for the global economy remains to be seen. The potential for the use of Bitcoin as part of illegal activity though, should not stop people from using it for legitimate means. It’s only through incorporating online tools into the mainstream that it will become a genuinely useful and productive innovation.



Bitcoin: Official Site

US District Court: Securities & Exchange Commission v. Trendon T. Shavers  and Bitcoin Savings & Trust


European Central Bank: Virtual Currency Schemes

Techland: Online Cash Bitcoin Could Challenge Government, Banks

Coindesk: Confirmed: Bloomberg Staff Are Testing a Bitcoin Price Ticker

CIO: In Kenya, Bitcoin :Linked to Popular Mobile Payment System

ParityNews: The Internet Archive Starts Accepting Bitcoin Donations

Webcite: In Bitcoin We Trust: The Berlin District Where Virtual Currency is as Easy as Cash

Readwrite: What’s Bitcoin Worth in the Real World?

Wire: Today’s Bitcoin Shows Why It’s Not Really a Currency

Fox Business: The Consumer Risks of Bitcoins

Slate: My Money is Cooler Than Yours

Washington Post: Imagining a World Without the Dollar

Social Science Research Network: Are Cryptocurrencies ‘Super’ Tax Havens?

The New York Times: Winklevoss Twins Plan First Funds for Bitcoins

Forbes: Goodbye Switzerland, Hello Bitcoins

Treasury Department: Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies

GAO: Virtual Economies and Currencies: Additional IRS Guidance Could Reduce Tax Compliance Risks

Forbes: IRS Takes a Bite Out of Bitcoin

The New York Times: New York and U.S. Open Investigations Into Bitcoins

TechCrunch: New York’s Financial Services Subpoenas Bitcoin Firms To “Root Out Illegal Activity”

Salome Vakharia
Salome Vakharia is a Mumbai native who now calls New York and New Jersey her home. She attended New York School of Law, and she is a founding member of Law Street Media. Contact Salome at



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