Cash really is worthless. The federal reserve estimates every $1 bill costs only 6.2 cents to print. A briefcase full of 100k, like in the movies, would only have $6,200 worth of linen. And if you tore it up, even a little, you’d have nothing. Yet, if that briefcase contained a stainless steel frame or a gold lock, suddenly, you’re back in business. If we stopped more often to consider the true value of money, we wouldn’t be so confused by this new up-and-comer: cryptocurrency.
So, what the heck is cryptocurrency? It’s online money. And why is it valuable? Because the world decided it was.
Social Studies teacher Mrs. Jillian Roger has spent time exploring the world of crypto. “I believe I learned about crypto on a podcast a few years ago. I associated it with people buying drugs on the dark web. Then I started investing in stocks in January 2020. I used
Robinhood which has the option to buy crypto. I put $5 on a meme stock that I thought was funny Dogecoin. I figured if I could spare $5, it was worth a gamble. I don’t use it as currency, it’s just an investment.”
To further explain, cryptocurrency, as defined by Oxford Languages, is, “a digital currency in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized system using cryptography, rather than by a centralized authority.” Basically, every time you use your Dogecoin or Bitcoin to make a trade or purchase an item, the information of the sale is added to the token. The actual code is changed to add your purchase to its history. Someone could look at that Bitcoin (or 1/80th of the Bitcoin) and trace it back to you.
Also, no government is managing this tender. Although you can buy in with nearly any country’s currency, there is no central economy adding
inflation, defining exchange rates, or validating it. It is independent. It is global. And now, it’s quickly growing in respect as a real-deal currency option.
“I think there is a future for crypto. A lot of people have lost faith in it as big players have tweeted to manipulate the price. But as the world becomes more interconnected I see this as a way to get around exchange rates and failing
governments,” Roger said.
Bitcoin continues to be the leading example. In the early 2010s, one Bitcoin, one virtual token, was $3 (to purchase in USD). Now they go for $39,736.60 apiece, but the prices fluctuate by day, hour, and sometimes minute. Try searching for their value online, wait for a beat, and refresh the page. The value will have shifted, maybe by a thousand, or just a few bucks.
Again, a strange phenomenon to consider: how can money be so inconstant? It’s reflective of how much interest is present in that type of currency. Many websites that track the price of gold will show the same shifty nature, although maybe a day is needed to create waves.
As crypto continues to soar, doubts remain on its validity as marketplace tender and true worth. In the words of Mrs. Roger, “I don’t think I’m going to cash out my 401K to buy Bitcoin though.”
Cryptocurrency, as it lives and breathes online, can be purchased through apps like Robinhood, bought via Facebook, or exchanged on Venmo. Each currency is different, like its own economy, and can be learned about through articles, Reddit and Twitter discussions, and fellow users. As our world becomes entrenched in online culture, our currency seems bound to follow.