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The Controversy Over Cryptocurrencies

Adam Aleksic, Editor-in-Chief

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Lately, it seems that cryptocurrencies are all the buzz. You can easily see the allure: somebody who bought just a dollar of Bitcoin when it first came out would now literally be a millionaire. Ethereum rose 5000% in 2017. In August 2017, cryptocurrencies made up .21% of the world’s GDP. Clearly, there are vast fortunes to be made from this. But there could be many drawbacks as well.

First, let’s define a cryptocurrency, for those out of the know. It is a digital, decentralized cash entity, limited to a certain number of virtual “coins”, which are “mined” by users around the world creating servers to add to the system, or “blockchain”. Once users mine cryptocurrencies, they can use them to pay for transactions online, and the people who receive those coins can go on to use it to pay for other things. This is a nigh-utopia for libertarians, programmers, and criminals.

One major controversy is how cryptocurrencies are being utilized for sketchy purposes on the Internet. Cyber-extortionists use ransomware to lock users’ computers until they pay a fine in Bitcoin, often ranging from about $300-$600 in value. For this reasons, companies around the world have stockpiled cryptocurrencies just in case of a cyberattack. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: much of cryptocurrency trade goes on in the Deep Web, the darkest part of the Internet where atrocities like human trafficking and drug trade go on.

Some studies have shown that cryptocurrencies might be fueling a rise in these crimes. They also have the potential to be an economic disaster. Not only does cryptocurrency mining draw unbelievable amounts of power, but as it fluctuates, the economy does too. In fact, It’s quite possible that the bull market will crash when the cryptocurrency bubble pops. This certainly is mirroring the dot-com bubble of the ‘90s, after all.

But all that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad idea to invest! As noted previously, insane amounts of money are being made on this. The current boom in cryptocurrency prices is mostly due to major Wall Street investments in the coins and pure faith in the value of the decentralized cash, but that’s not to deny that there definitely is a boom. With strategic investments and even more strategic withdrawal at the right time, a lot can be made out of this.

A few examples to iterate the extent of cryptocurrencies: with an ailing economy and rapid inflation, it has been proposed that Venezuela adopt a cryptocurrency called Petro, which will be backed by oil reserves; startups like Litecoin, Omni, TRON, Dash, Ripple, and Ether are all following Bitcoin’s pioneering lead, and subsequently are making lots of money; and Dogecoin, originally a “joke” currency made after an internet meme, has now passed a capitalization of $1 billion.

Invest or not, be aware and wary of the future of cryptocurrencies. Only time will tell whether all of this cyber-muddling was a good idea, so do what you will.

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