When Satoshi Nakamoto first released the famous whitepaper for Bitcoin over a decade ago, they called the fledgeling new idea a “peer-to-peer version of electronic cash.” The intention was for Bitcoin to be digital cash: a borderless payment system that would require no mediator and would, in effect, have no boundaries in its use.
Since Bitcoin’s inception, we have seen it give rise to a whole new horizon of possibilities in our increasingly digitized world: one where potentially many of the facets of our current internet and financial system would be made permanently altered or even defunct. It was certainly a breakthrough and, most importantly, Satoshi recognized Bitcoin’s first and foremost function as being digital cash. It was specifically made to be spent.
Since then, Bitcoin has since become a household name. However, the last exponential rise also proved to many the inherent limitations of Bitcoin: on a mass scale, it proved to be fundamentally useless as an everyday means of exchange. At the height of Bitcoin’s network activity in December of 2017, it saw transaction fees rise to extreme levels at some $50 or so dollars per transaction. Not only did this make Bitcoin unusable for 99% of its users, but it brought the entire network to a screeching halt. Many vendors as a result began to use Bitcoin less and less and many dropped out of using it entirely. Although transaction fees have fallen drastically due to the current drop in price and network usage, the ‘fee problem’ proved that Bitcoin’s 1-megabyte block size simply could not handle the surge of users that accompanied its exponential rise.
For those of us who were here during Bitcoin’s early days, this all comes off as odd and perhaps even forgoes some our most basic, original expectations about the cryptocurrency. What were once discussions on how to get people to use Bitcoin as a currency in 2014–2015 have today morphed into how to get more investors into Bitcoin as a ‘store of value.’ Or not to use Bitcoin for spending at all, according to the now infamous tweet that appeared by a core Bitcoin developer.
We at Voltaire believe that Bitcoin should exist, first and foremost, as a usable currency. Adoption is naturally then the key focus. During the last Bitcoin Cash stress test on Sept 1st, Bitcoin Cash was able to process some 2.1 million transactions in a day. The transaction fees during this time actually dropped from $0.002 to $0.0017. Therefore, the question of whether Bitcoin Cash can handle everyday usability should not be questioned — it’s more of a question of whether we can create the necessary infrastructure for adoption to happen. This is why we decided to create our own trading ecosystem, one with specifically Bitcoin Cash trading pairs.
Rather than rely purely on speculative investors, the price of any cryptocurrency that aims to be ‘digital cash’ must be directly related to its network usage and everyday usability. In other words, lest we not forget: the future of Bitcoin rests on adoption much more than investors.