If you’re like me, the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is both fascinating and intimidating. For years, I’ve been hearing stories about this all-digital monetary system helping early adopters strike it rich. Or, how crypto will soon disrupt our well-established financial structures.
Still, interesting as it all sounded, I couldn’t say I fully understood it.
That’s why I was thrilled to sit down with tech entrepreneur and cryptocurrency expert Deana Burke.
Deana is the founder of Gracias, a startup with a mission to share Bitcoin with young women, teens, and people from diverse backgrounds. She’s also incredible at explaining complex concepts like cryptocurrency to even the least tech-savvy people (like me!)
After all, Deana herself struggled with the concept of cryptocurrency at first. However, something about this new way of exchanging goods and making money intrigued her. Before she knew it, Deana had bought in.
But Deana does more than explain Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. She’s determined to show how it could change the lives of those previously left out of the wealth conversation altogether.
The Bitcoin Basics
I couldn’t wait to chat with Deana so I could finally grasp the basics behind Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Here’s just a little bit of what I learned:
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a form of currency used to exchange goods online using digital coins or tokens.
Bitcoin might be the most recognizable form of cryptocurrency, but it’s far from the only one. Thousands exist and are traded daily. Other popular types of cryptocurrency include Ethereum, Monero, and Ripple.
As for why Deana prefers Bitcoin to its competitors? “There’s a purity in its formation,” she says. “Like the lack of a founder figure. It’s truly powered by the network and by a community of developers.” She also admits that name recognition helps, especially since she has a message and mission to get out there.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin was created in 2008 by someone known as Satoshi Nakamoto. To this date, nobody knows who Nakamoto is, if it’s even one person—or if they ever existed in the first place. “Very mysterious circumstances surround the invention of Bitcoin,” says Deana, and she admits that this adds to the system’s allure.
Essentially, Nakamoto created Bitcoin as open-source software, which means anyone can have full access. “There’s no Bitcoin as a company,” she says. “It’s completely decentralized. It’s powered by a community of people who are passionate about it, and who see it as a way to make money for themselves.”
It’s a currency that offers an even playing field.
What is Bitcoin Mining?
In a sense, Bitcoin mining is similar to printing traditional currency. However, since Bitcoin is entirely digital, this process is as well.
Honestly, the mining process isn’t the easiest to explain (think solving complex equations only solvable by high-powered computers). Even Deana admits to nearly dismissing Bitcoin altogether when she first heard about the concept of mining.
But we don’t need to know how a dollar is made use it. The same goes for Bitcoin. If you’d like to know more though, here is a great article from Investopedia.
How Many Bitcoin Are There?
Unlike traditional currency systems, only 21 million Bitcoin will ever exist. To date, about 18 million have been mined. Once the 21 million Bitcoin cap is hit, no more will be created. This resolves many issues, especially those related to inflation.
“It’s what’s called a deflationary currency,” Deana explains. “The United States can just keep printing dollars willy nilly for all sorts of reasons. With Bitcoin…there will only ever be 21 million.
“That’s one of the beautiful things about it. And that’s a big reason why people predict that the value will continue to rise in the future.”
New Bitcoins are unlocked at set intervals, so at some point, they all will have been released. “At that point, it becomes something that looks a lot more like a gold asset with appreciating value.”
How Much Is a Bitcoin Worth?
When first created in 2008, Bitcoin was worthless. Like any other good or currency, an agreed-upon value needs to be established.
Over a decade later, Bitcoin has emerged as the leading form of cryptocurrency, and that value has skyrocketed. At the time of publication, a single Bitcoin was worth about USD 8,600—though that price regularly fluctuates.
So, if you didn’t buy into Bitcoin at the beginning and can’t afford the four-figure price tag, does that mean you’re priced out?
“You can buy fractions of a Bitcoin,” Deana says. “You can buy five dollars worth of Bitcoin… It’s divisible up to fractions of a penny.
“In fact, it’s divisible even more than dollars. That’s one thing that makes it really interesting for micro-transactions. People are doing interesting things around tiny fragments of Bitcoin.”
What Is Bitcoin Used For?
Today, you can use Bitcoin with many brands and online stores, including Microsoft, Etsy, and Expedia. It also makes international money transfers faster, easier and more affordable.
For example, if you wanted to send money overseas via a wire transfer, just think of all the hands that it’ll “touch” on the way. Each of those hands will slow down the process and usually tack on a fee.
“Everyone is grabbing a piece of the pie,” says Deana. “One of the beautiful things about Bitcoin is that you could send money to India right now. It would take twenty minutes and be at a fraction of the cost of wire transfer. It disrupts the entire banking system.”
This all just scratches the surface of cryptocurrency. But now that we have a better understanding of what it all means, let’s learn why Deana believes Bitcoin could restructure the face of the marketplace.
Will Bitcoin Change Finance Forever?
Deana’s no doubt a fantastic instructor. However, her passion for Bitcoin goes far past just teaching others about the digital currency. She also believes that it can change the world—especially for those often left behind by traditional financial systems like women, young people, and those not born into money.
So, how could cryptocurrency open the market up to everyone?
For Deana, it’s all about increased accessibility. “The only thing keeping people from being able to access it is information and knowledge,” she says. “It represents a level playing field for people who don’t necessarily come from generational wealth.”
In essence, the newness of the system eliminates many of the barriers that have previously kept most people out of making it rich.
“The number one indicator of having money and being wealthy is being born with money,” says Deana. “One thing that I love about Bitcoin is that it doesn’t have the same sort of history. It has no gatekeepers. Anyone could jump into Bitcoin today and make of it what they want.”
It was this realization that impassioned Deana to launch Gracias as a platform to introduce people to cryptocurrency. “If it’s going to be this new economy in ten years, then knowing a little bit about it today could mean a world of difference to someone tomorrow.
“That’s my personal mission. It’s what gets me out of bed every morning.”
You’ll learn more about Bitcoin, why she became so involved with the cryptocurrency world, how she successfully built-up and sold her past companies, and so much more.
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