Bitcoin vs Gold: How I Believe That Bitcoin Has Intrinsic Value Like Gold
Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. From a user perspective, Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet. Bitcoin can also be seen as the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence.
Bitcoins have value because they are useful as a form of money. Bitcoin has the characteristics of money (durability, portability, fungibility, scarcity, divisibility, and recognizability) based on the properties of mathematics rather than relying on physical properties (like gold and silver) or trust in central authorities (like fiat currencies). In short, Bitcoin is backed by mathematics. With these attributes, all that is required for a form of money to hold value is trust and adoption. In the case of Bitcoin, this can be measured by its growing base of users, merchants, and startups. As with all currency, bitcoin's value comes only and directly from people willing to accept them as payment.
Bitcoin is as virtual as the credit cards and online banking networks people use everyday. Bitcoin can be used to pay online and in physical stores just like any other form of money. Bitcoins can also be exchanged in physical form such as the Casascius coins, but paying with a mobile phone usually remains more convenient. Bitcoin balances are stored in a large distributed network, and they cannot be fraudulently altered by anybody. In other words, Bitcoin users have exclusive control over their funds and bitcoins cannot vanish just because they are virtual.
The total number of bitcoins that can be mined has been preset at 21 million, whereas the amount of gold that can be mined is a more complicated question. Over time, the increase in the supply of gold has increased at roughly 1-3% per year, but on a short-term basis there can conceivably be a lot of volatility in the price of gold due to new discoveries. Of course, as a new technology, bitcoin is subject to much more volatility than gold. But over the long run, given the fact that no new bitcoins will be mined after the 21-millionth, we can expect it to ultimately serve as a better store of value than gold.
"With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless."
Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin Developer
"There are 3 eras of currency: Commodity based, politically based, and now, math based."
Chris Dixon, Technology Investor