Analyzing Bitcoin’s Evolving Mainstream Media Relationship as Crypto Assets Seek the Promise Land
After ten years in the market, Bitcoin (BTC) has appeared several times in mainstream media. Although during the first years Bitcoin did not have any coverage, as the prices and interest in the virtual currency grew, media started to talk about the most popular virtual currency in the market.
One of the first things that allowed the cryptocurrency to be in the media was the attention that it experienced when it was used to purchased good and services on the silk road, a black market for illegal items and drugs.
Nevertheless, things changed and Bitcoin is showing its potential to help individuals move funds around the world and hedge against other financial assets. Now, financial institutions are interested in this virtual currency and are ready to enter the crypto market.
One of the most interesting pieces written by a mainstream media outlet focuses on how Bitcoin could play an important role in challenging authoritarian regimes. The Time published this article on December 28 and it talks about how Bitcoin and virtual currencies changed the economic landscape for Venezuelan citizens.
The article was written by Alex Gladstein and it explains which is the situation that Venezuelans are currently living in their country. Venezuela is a country that is experiencing high inflation rates and has been one of the worst performing economies during the last few years.
Individuals in the country are not able to live with a basic salary and they are also not able to change the situation that they are living. The authoritarian government controls the political landscape and does not allow other parties to freely operate. Furthermore, some opposition leaders have been persecuted by the government.
Cryptocurrencies played an important role in the country with inflation rates that could be close to 1 million percent. Fiat currency in the country is worth nothing. Citizens have started to use Bitcoin and other virtual currencies to avoid the effects of having an authoritarian government.
According to Gladstein, Bitcoin has a liberating potential for people living under authoritarian regimes.
“Today, Venezuelans are adopting and experimenting with Bitcoin to evade hyperinflation and strict financial controls,” he wrote. “Speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have overshadowed the real, liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention. For people living under authoritarian governments, Bitcoin can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.”
The government is currently taking a cut of the funds that people living abroad send back to their families. At the same time, banks should provide all the information about what users do with their funds and how they manage them.
Using Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, individuals can avoid these issues and problems. Bitcoin works without a centralized authority and individuals do not need to request permission to process transactions.
There are other countries such as Zimbabwe in which individuals are also starting to use virtual currencies for their daily needs. Zimbabwe experienced a similar situation as Venezuela a few years ago. Nowadays, Zimbabweans do not trust their local currency and are using other fiat currencies and Bitcoin.
Governments are not able to trace all the funds that people are moving from one place to the other using virtual currencies. However, these regimes can still freeze a bank account or simply know what their citizens do with their salaries. There are some cryptocurrencies such as Monero (XMR) or ZCash (ZEC) that allow users to have increased privacy features, allowing them to be even safer.
Although Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency, it still has some limitations. For example, when the network was used by thousands of individuals at the end of the last year, Bitcoin’s blockchain couldn’t process smooth transactions. This is why developers are currently focusing on the so-called Lightning Network (LN) which will allow Bitcoin to process millions of transactions without having to congest Bitcoin’s main network.
According to the author of the article, 50% of the world’s population lives under an authoritarian regime. If people invest time and resources to have a user-friendly wallet and better exchanges and educational material, Bitcoin has the potential to reach not millions of individuals, but billions.