Bitcoin is synonymous with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology today, and has become a widely accepted concept for users and the wider financial industry that is investing huge amounts of money into the future developments of the industry. However, there have been issues in the formative years of cryptocurrencies, with many people forming negative opinions on Bitcoin after the media led onslaught of the currency within stories relating to Silk Road and Mt Gox which heavily implied that Bitcoin was somehow a participant in the activities of those individuals. Things have moved on considerably since then, but there are many who still hold those views, and we should not let that go unchallenged.
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For those of us heavily involved with the cryptocurrency industry it is sometime hard to understand that for a time those looking at Bitcoin from the outside had a fairly negative perception of what a digital currency actually is and what it is being used for. The media stories of money laundering, purchasing illegal goods and the collapse of Mt Gox were some of the most high profile, details accounts of Bitcoin presented to the wider world, is it any wonder that some took those stories and formed a negative impression of the digital currency industry itself?
Those stories were full of media opinion, Bitcoin was associated heavily with the words ‘scam’, ‘insecure’ and especially when it came to Silk Road, ‘criminal activity’. What we tend to forget is that for some, those impressions still hold true. Bitcoin itself and the concept of cryptocurrency, as well as blockchain, have grown considerably since that time, both in users and in acceptance within the wider financial industry, but that does not mean we should accept that those negative ideas are just one of those things, far from it. They can be challenged, and it will benefit the entire industry to do so.
The UK treasury recently published a report that noted Bitcoin itself was the lowest risk they measured when it comes to money laundering, and was an insignificant threat compared to other more traditional fiat money based methods. Likewise, the idea that Bitcoin payments are ‘untraceable’ and therefore perfect for illegal activity is also false, in fact the opposite. In fact when it comes to illegal activity, French authorities cite prepaid debit cards as the chief vehicle used for fund transfers and movement. At the same time, the benefits of Bitcoin and the opportunities the technology represents are being researched and utilized by major banks and government agencies all over the world, highlighting just how secure and robust blockchain technology actually is.
The idea that Bitcoin is somehow a vehicle of crime is much less prevalent than in the past, and great strides have been made in public awareness of the benefits of digital currency, but for the few that still think this way, they can be challenged with comprehensive data to back up the argument, and we should never shy away from doing so. Bitcoin presents a marvelous opportunity for us all, and when we find those that still hold that negative perception, it is important that they are always challenged with the relevant data.