Personal Finance Technology

Is Cryptocurrency Tulip Madness Or Solid Gold?

With cryptocurrency is entering adolescence and settling into a more stable range of support and resistance, most folks would agree that Bitcoin and its peers are here to stay. At the same time, the crypto frontier is still the wild west, with plenty of prospecting and intrigue to spare. It seems fairly certain that crypto will play a huge role in the future of the world economy, what’s not so clear is exactly what that will look like. 

For those with no taste for risk or adventure, crypto is a complicated nuisance that couldn’t vanish quick enough. For adventurous investors and tech-savvy consumers, however, easy to use, secure crypto platforms like Bitbuy have presented a fun, informative, user-friendly tool to understand and deal in a variety of cryptocurrencies. For some, not being able to see the future is terrifying, for others, it’s exhilarating!   

While we certainly can’t see the future of Bitcoin and crypto, we can look at some curious economic phenomena from the past that only made sense in the cultural context of the time: 

Crypto, Flowers & Cowries

She Sells Seashells – For thousands of years, cowry (snails, mollusks, etc.) shells were used on every continent in the world as currency. Initially, they were directly traded as a commodity because the cowries were worn as fashion accessories. Later, “shell money” was created by beading the shells or altering their shape. The shells used as currency can mostly be traced to the Indian Ocean in the vicinity of the Maldives islands and Sri Lanka. Believe it or not, in some parts of the world, cowry shells are still accepted as legal tender. Imagine exchanging seashells for Bitcoin! 

Tulip Mania – Crypto naysayers often like to draw a parallel between digital coins and the Dutch tulip bulb markets of the early 17th century. Tulips had come to Europe from the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century and became a great status of wealth. Financial adventurers created a fringe financial market to take advantage of the opportunity, often exchange exorbitantly priced futures on flowers that did not yet exist. It was sometimes called “wind-trade” since no actual tulips changed hands. The market collapsed in 1637, but the whole exercise presaged the baffling nature of present-day finance.

Golden Age – Some would argue that the reason our current financial institutions have gotten so out of control is that they’re not tethered to anything tangible. Most western countries upheld the gold standard until the early 20th century, when – as some economists argue – money became purely theoretical. The switch to central banks is largely attributed to the economic disasters propagated to the Great War. In a sense, Bitcoin is more like the gold standard than fiat currency, because there is a limited amount of it (it will all be distributed by the tear 2140). 

Having surveyed these episodes, perhaps you don’t find crypto so strange anymore. Currency has changed and evolved over the years, it’s the most natural thing in the world!  

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