Friday, January 21

Who is behind cryptocurrencies? Young white men squeeze the digital gold rush

For years, cryptographers and computer developers had failed to create an electronic version of the money, a system of decentralized payments in which there was no need for intermediaries such as banks. That changed on January 9, 2009. It was then that a nine page report in which a system that would revolutionize the world of finance was described: Bitcoin. Almost 13 years later, the most famous of the cryptocurrencies It has become a global phenomenon in which experts and ‘amateurs’ invest and whose value already exceeds one billion euros. A Golden fever digital that has opened a deep debate about the future. But who is behind all this?

The biggest mystery

Published in open source, that Bible of virtual currencies appeared signed by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym behind which hides one of the greatest mysteries of today. In the age of overinformation and lack of privacy, we know practically nothing about the mind that devised Bitcoin. It is unknown if he is a person or a group and there is no trace of his identity. It is speculated that Nakamoto would own the first million Bitcoins that was created, an amount that has never moved hands and whose value exceeds 48.7 billion euros, which would make it one of the 30 largest fortunes of the planet. Now, a lawsuit in Florida between two men who claim to have created Bitcoin could reveal their identity, although it is unlikely.

As it happens with the artist Banksy, the enigma about the character does not cloud the important legacy of his creation. Although it does not exist physically, Bitcoin does exist in the virtual world, where it can be used to make purchases, as an instrument of investment or as a safe haven value similar to gold. Bitcoin allows payment between two parties, without intermediaries such as financial institutions. That is possible thanks to Blockchain, a decentralized network that guarantees the privacy of your communications through encryption.

This technology is the architecture that supports the up to 7,745 cryptocurrencies that exist today. Some are purposeful and serve as actions to support the project behind it. It is the case of Ethereum, whose objective is to offer a way to decentralize the web. However, there are also those that started as a joke (that’s why they are nicknamed ‘meme coins’) and have the sole function of speculating. That happens with Dogecoin O Shiba Inu, currencies that together accumulate a capitalization of more than 56.100 million dollars.

Scam or decentralized future?

In just over a decade, the world of cryptocurrencies has made use of the lack of regulation to normalize as a financial instrument, as a way to invest and earn money easily. The value of Bitcoin and other digital currencies is not determined by clear rules, but by the confidence of their investors.

Sculpture of Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious Bitcoin ideologue, in Hungary.

The more people put their money in crypto, the more its value will go up. This has allowed the capitalization of this market to reach 2.65 trillion euros. In the last five years, Bitcoin has revalued by 6.837% to currently equivalent to about 50,965 euros (the most valuable in the market). Whoever invested before that ‘boom’ is now rich. However, the volatility of these assets has also caused other lesser-known cryptocurrencies to fluctuate like a roller coaster, trapping many along the way. investors.

The relentless boom in these assets has opened up a great financial debate. His detractors, among whom are Nobel laureates in economics such as Joseph Stiglitz O Paul Krugman, they assure that it is a ponzi scheme, a great swindle pyramidal in which its promoters profit from misleading other investors. Governments and central banks have warned that this network may be a financial bubble, which has led China to ban cryptocurrencies. If nobody controls them, nobody is responsible if the investors’ money disappears.

However, large companies, investment funds and even countries like El Salvador have opened their doors to virtual currencies. Along with the emergence of management and marketing platforms for these assets, such as Coinbase O BinanceThis has encouraged small investors and common people to put their money in the crypto world, which has stopped being linked to cybercrime to become a great global fad. Still, all kinds of scams continue to proliferate.

Crypto millionaires on the rise

The reality is that this casino economy has turned into a million dollar industry. Who gains from it? Among the best known promoters of Bitcoin are the tycoon Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and co-founder of PayPal, or Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. However, the main fortunes of the crypto world are less known to the general public. In the top 5 are Sam Bankman-Fried ($ 8.9 billion), founder and CEO of the FTX trading platform; Brian Armstrong (6.5 billion), CEO and co-founder of Coinbase; the Twins Cameron y Tyler Winklevoss (6,000 million), investors in Bitcoin and NFTs; Chris Larsen (3,400 million), executive president of the company Ripple and inersor in the cryptocurrency XRP; and Michael Saylor (2.3 billion), CEO of the technology firm MicroStrategy and investor in Bitcoin. This year 12 investors and developers have entered the Forbes list of billionaires, eight more than in 2020. All are men between 29 and 63 years old.

Incarnated in the figure of the so-called ‘cripto-bros‘, the tribe of young men who invest with a cocky and ostentatious attitude, the world of cryptocurrencies has normalized a story in which the speculation Without rules it can make you rich overnight. Despite the warnings about its risks, the crypto industry has grown to the point of being able to flood everything with that wild free market propaganda, whether by signing Andrés Iniesta, Matt Damon or buying the Los Angeles Lakers stadium.

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