I was recently paid in Bitcoin for writing a blog about how you can pay for your car with cryto. The payment was slow, and I made a blog post about it in the hope of attracting more attention. I did get contacted by a few people, and one of them used my blog post to buy a car.
It’s not clear that Bitcoin is going to be a valuable currency. But it’s also not clear that it isn’t. And that’s what makes Bitcoin interesting to me as an economist: you don’t know whether it will be valuable, but you do know that if it is valuable, then something else must be going on that you can’t yet explain.
People often ask me how I got my car. It was actually quite simple. I paid for it with cryto. But when I say “cryto,” you probably think of a currency, not the engine that makes your car go.
Cryto is the world’s first digital currency, invented in 2009 by an anonymous person (or group) calling itself “Satoshi Nakamoto.” The currency has gained about $4 billion in market capitalization since then, and is now used as a way to pay for everything from hotel rooms to health insurance to buying cocaine.
I decided to try cryto because other people have also tried it. A friend who had recently bought a new car suggested that I buy one with cryto. He said there were many people buying cars with cryto, and that they had used it to buy new cars, too.
I didn’t believe him at first because the whole idea seemed so strange and futuristic. Nevertheless, after some thought I decided this just might be a good way to get a new car in a hurry without having to save up any money or wait for the right moment to get a loan. And maybe it would make more sense than just paying cash, which would take much longer but wouldn’t really save me any money.
A few years ago, I spent a lot of time reading about cryto. At the time I didn’t have a car. My rent was high, and so was my subway pass, and I lived in a city with no public transit. So I didn’t see cryto as a viable way to pay for a car. But then a friend gave me some BitCoin and suggested I use it to buy a used car.
I don’t have BitCoin any more; the price went up too fast for me to keep up. But that doesn’t matter, because the point is that it worked.
The idea was to get money from someone else (a friend or an employer) and spend it on something you need but can’t make yourself (a car). And here is another thing: when you buy something with BitCoin as an intermediary, you don’t have to trust the intermediary with your real information, because the intermediary doesn’t know what your real information is. It’s just money: not-real things like dollars or pounds or euros but only-real things like cars or iPods or dollar bills.
So let’s try it again: write your own biography
Crypto currency, such as Bitcoin and LiteCoin, is an interesting idea. It is a way to store and transfer wealth without using banks or governments. And there are lots of people who want to use it.
But if you use cryto to pay for your car, you are probably not going to be able to afford another car soon. Crypto currency is volatile: even if you hold it long term, it can go up or down a lot. And if you lose your crypto currency when it goes down, you won’t have enough money to buy a new car.
I don’t want to make this blog about crypto-currency. Instead I want to tell you about how I got my new car, and how that’s not just a story about crypto-currency. It is my story, but it is also a story about how the things I do with money fit together.
I got my new car because of BitCoin, but not in any way you might expect. When I bought my new car, I didn’t buy it with BitCoins. Instead, I used BitCoins to pay for the first time for something other than the electricity to run the computer that keeps my blog going: a car.
I was excited by BitCoin when it came out, but there was a feeling in the air that something big was happening and no one knew quite what it was. The combination of BitCoin and car purchases seemed right up there with “huge, if true.” Someone who understood finance would have seen that there was a chance that this pair of events could be linked beyond mere happenstance, but no one told me about those connections before I bought my new car.
I did some research on BitCoin before buying the car, just to double check things like “how much should I pay” and “how much power
Bitcoin is a digital currency, which means it is an electronic medium of exchange. It’s basically the same as dollars, euros, or yen. And you can use it to buy things.
But there are a lot of things that can’t be bought with dollars, euros, or yen. In particular, you can’t yet buy a lot of stuff on Amazon using bitcoin. For the most part, bitcoin is still a toy for geeks, who are more likely to use it for gambling than buying stuff.
And that’s where my story starts.
I work for a company that buys and sells cars. Every few weeks we have to spend several hours evaluating new models and making decisions about which ones to buy. This means I spend most of my time staring at computer screens, reading reviews and price lists and so on. When I was offered the chance to pay for my new car with bitcoin, I decided to take it.
The process of buying a car with bitcoin was pretty easy in those days: I logged into our website and put in the information about my order; then we went through a simple authentication process with our bank; then I was able to make an online payment directly from my computer with the bitcoins I had purchased from an online wallet service such as
Crypto is about the future. I have been looking for an opportunity to talk about cryto for a long time, but I never found one that was as exciting and important as this one. Cryto is going to be big, and what we are talking about here could help make it happen.
I am not a programmer. I don’t know exactly how cryto works, although I have played with the idea enough that I think I could figure out how it works if someone would just tell me. But I don’t want to take any credit for what has been accomplished by those who actually do know how it works.
Here’s the thing: crypto solves problems computer scientists haven’t solved yet. And in crypto, it turns out that money can solve some of these problems better than computers can. In particular, crypto lets us design computer systems that are provably secure even if bad people can break into them at some point in the future.