Elon Musk’s proverbial ability to kick the hornet’s nest at the right moments is once again evident in the wake of the recent news that Tesla has bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin: since then, the value of bitcoin has appreciated to almost $50,000, Mastercard has announced that it will enable the use of cryptocurrencies on its network (this would seem for the moment to be a statement of intent, saying it will do so when cryptocurrencies are “stable”, which would point for the moment only to stablecoins), while yesterday, Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z announced the creation of a 500-bitcoin fund worth around $23. 6 million, in order to finance the development of a bitcoin-based economy in Africa and India, and with the mission of making bitcoin the currency of the internet. In short, a normalization of the use of bitcoin that aims to anticipate the development of its future as the basis of an economy based on decentralized and independent digital money.
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Musk’s bitcoin maneuver earned Tesla more money in one day than in the entire previous quarter selling cars, in addition to the curious fact that, at the time of the announcement, some of the brand’s vehicles were worth approximately one bitcoin. This is nothing compared to the $100,000 it is expected to be worth by the end of this year, or the $500,000 that some expect it to be worth by virtue of the algorithmic process that progressively stabilizes its value. There is a certain poetic justice here: Musk was once sanctioned by the SEC for artificially raising the value of Tesla’s stock price; now he has gotten his revenge with a trick as simple as revealing that his company has invested in an asset he knew perfectly well was going to appreciate dramatically precisely as a result of the announcement that was made on the basis of the SEC’s own information: a masterstroke.
At the same time, Musk has been widely criticized, given the electricity consumption generated by bitcoin. We should remember that there is much self-interest in these accusations of the vast use of electricity in bitcoin mining, an activity that tends, logically, to be located precisely where it can fetch better prices for energy, and has long been oriented to places where the cheapest energy is obtained, which contrary to what many think, has been obtained from renewable sources for some time now. If bitcoin’s critics were really that concerned about the resource consumption they argue it generates, they would do well to be more concerned about the resource consumption and the much more obvious inefficiency — in every sense — of the world’s currency markets, which move around $6 trillion every day simply by speculating on the value of some currencies against others.
The example of Musk and Tesla’s leadership on bitcoin adoption is acting as a powerful magnet for other companies to try to optimize their cash management through operations of this type, which would accelerate the implementation of bitcoin, for the moment as a store of value, but over time, and following the development of the algorithm that regulates its mining and the incentives to process its operations, into a transactional instrument.
This progressive normalization of bitcoinclashes with many interests and will be subject to regulatory interference, which introduces many uncertainties about its future. Nevertheless, we are talking about a completely decentralized evolution and, as such, one that will be very difficult, if not impossible, to stop. The fact that more and more relevant players believe in the future of bitcoin is simply a way of reinforcing the self-fulfilling prophecy that has been established around cryptocurrencies and the advantages offered by the use of an economic system which is not controlled by a specific entity, and instead by exclusively mathematical criteria and without any party being able to exercise speculative power. In practice, it is becoming increasingly clear: it is not if, but when.
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