Singapore has clear ambitions when it comes to the ever-increasing digitalization of our society. The aim is to become Asia's Smart Nation. Transport, housing, healthcare, government, lifestyle and fintech, all will benefit from the ongoing advances in technology.
Clearly, Bitcoin will be playing a major role in this Smart Nation future. In fact, banking and payment systems have for the most part already moved from cash to digital. With Bitcoin poised to leverage its position as the world's leading cryptocurrency, we're just a hair's breadth away from demoting cash payments - indeed fiat money - to second tier.
This is why it's a good idea to take a closer look at Bitcoin. After all, not everyone is yet fully in the know of what Bitcoin is and what it can and cannot do.
It's safe to say that pretty much everyone has heard of Bitcoin. However, most media reports tend to be limited to either Bitcoin's shady early stages or, alternatively, how Bitcoin's value has reached yet another all-time high, or just as frequently, is once again falling. Clearly, Bitcoin is a lot of things, but boring isn't one of them.
So what actually is Bitcoin?
Perhaps the easiest way to look at Bitcoin is as a revolutionary payment innovation that allows for transactions and the transfer of money to take place outside the direct purview and auspices of a government, a central bank or any other kind of official entity. Bitcoin is a decentralized payment system. This means that it is trustless, i.e. it works without a third party intermediary being required.
Not only does this make Bitcoin a low-cost payment system, but Bitcoin's protocol, its so-called Blockchain, is also believed to be actually more secure than fiat money, credit card payments, PayPal etc, as these are all susceptible to hacks, given their single point of failure mechanism.
Bitcoin's architecture, on the other hand, comprises countless computers; in practice, this means that for an misappropriation of funds to be pulled off, each and every single one of Bitcoin's network's nodes and miners would need to be compromised, both individually and collectively. This is considered an impossibility.
What's more, since Bitcoin isn't owned by any government or central bank, it is free from government influence. Quantitative easing will never take place on the Bitcoin platform. As a matter of fact, Bitcoin is hard-coded to a maximum of 21 million units. There are about 15 million units in circulation now and this number will max out at 21 million in the year 2140.
In other words, as we know the rate of release of new Bitcoins and we know the date the maximum number of Bitcoin will be reached, there is no danger of inflationary pressures whatsoever. Quite the contrary, Bitcoin can be said to be deflationary in nature. It's this trait that also renders Bitcoin a suitable store of value, which is why Bitcoin has been termed "digital gold".
Now, to compare Bitcoin to physical gold, an investment class that investors have grown to appreciate as a robust and stable store value, may seem counter-intuitive at first. But the similarities are striking. For instance, gold, too, is scarce (though not quite finite the way Bitcoin is). And, like Bitcoin mining, new gold also comes about by mining.
However, where Bitcoin has one overwhelming advantage over gold is the ease with which ownership can be transferred. Courtesy of our trusted Blockchain.
This ease of transfer can be applied to all occassions where funds need to be transferred to other parts of the world quickly and cheaply. Currently, you'd have to use either a bank or a remittance company, such as Western Union. In both cases, the transfer would require up to a week or longer to be processed. And the cost is likely to be in order of $50-$100 or more.
In fact, in some cases, a percentage of the sum to be transferred is charged, which could see the transfer fee run into the hundreds of dollars!
A Bitcoin transfer should take a few minutes to be completed and typically costs a fraction of a dollar.
The other benefit of Bitcoin is that it will be universal. This means that it won't matter in which country you want to spend your Bitcoin, you can. The best part is that no currency-to-currency conversion is required beforehand. This lack of conversion charges once again translates to savings.
To be sure, Bitcoin hasn't quite reached the maturity required for all of the above to be feasible right now. And this applies to various of the other Smart Nation disciplines as well. But clearly, Singapore's Smart Nation initiative is powering ahead and it appears that the only thing in the way of full fulfillment of technology's promise is time.
If you'd like to know more about Singapore Bitcoin, click here.
I am not an investment advisor and above article is for purely informational purposes and is not to be taken as investment advice. Investors are advised to personally undertake adequate due diligence, or to consult a financial advisor in order to determine what assets - if any - are appropriate to invest in.