Bitcoin as digital gold
Over the centuries, gold has been considered as an object of value by many different groups of people all over the world. It’s important to note that gold in itself has no value – it’s just a piece of shiny metal. Its value comes from the (somewhat perplexing) fact that everyone just agreed that it has value, and therefore it becomes valuable. The reason they chose gold versus other objects is important – gold has certain characteristics that make it a better ‘store of value’ (as it is commonly known) than other objects:
For one, it is rare, which means it has limited supply(there is only a certain amount of gold in the world – if it was too abundant everyone would have it and then it would have no value). It is malleable (it can be melted and made into smaller units i.e. coins, and importantly the per unit value doesn’t change when you break it into smaller pieces, unlike things like diamonds). It is stable and doesn’t degrade, it’s easy to recognise and very importantly, difficult to counterfeit.
As it turns out, Bitcoin has all of these same characteristics, and more. It has limited supply (only a specific amount of Bitcoin exists and will ever be produced). It can be made into smaller units without losing unit value (1 Bitcoin = 100,000,000 Satoshis – the smallest unit into which a Bitcoin can be broken down to, similar to the cents in a Dollar or pennies in a pound; this is also why one can buy less than one Bitcoin at a time). Its technology makes it very stable, it won’t degrade, and it’s impossible to counterfeit. On top of this, and unlike gold, you can move Bitcoin to any place on earth within minutes, no matter how big or small the amount. That’s why many people say that Bitcoin is not just digital gold, but a better version of gold.
On top of that, Bitcoin has value as a payment system in itself, which gives it even more value. The more people use Bitcoin for payments, the more valuable this system becomes. It’s a bit like buying shares in Visa and then using those shares to buy a coke at your local 7-11. Because you used the Visa shares to pay, Visa (the payment system) becomes more valuable, and Visa shares become worth more. In this way, the value of Bitcoin comes from both its gold-like characteristics as well as its payment system abilities.