Much is written about the establishment of bitcoin mining in Trøndelag. Both in Åsen and Namsskogan, it’s very topical. But what exactly is Bitcoin?
– Bitcoin is private money. Private in the sense that there is no state or central bank behind it. It’s an autonomous system that creates this money, lead researcher Svein Ølnes tells Vestlandsforskning.
He has been tracking cryptocurrency since 2011 and has himself invested in both Bitcoin and Ethereum, which is the second largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. In addition, he teaches on the subject at Høgskulen på Vestlandet and NTNU.
– A friend introduced me to Bitcoin at the end of 2011. My first thought was “Monopoly money”, but luckily I didn’t completely let go and started to study the technology more closely, laughs the senior researcher .
– What is the benefit for us ordinary people of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?
– Due to their decentralized design, they are more resistant to surveillance and confiscation than regular cash. They work directly between people without using intermediaries such as banks, says Ølnes.
According to Ølnes, Bitcoin allows transfer across national borders much faster than regular money, and anyone can use it without further ado – all they need to do is download an app.
Bitcoin has been called digital gold because it has many of the same properties as gold. There is a limited amount of both, and both require energy to extract.
– There is no central control, anyone can operate. Bitcoin proponents see it as a safe haven in difficult times, says Ølnes.
He adds that Bitcoin is not anonymous, so for criminal use it is risky since everything is stored on an open blockchain at all times. Only the sender and recipient are hidden.
– There are many tools to analyze the Bitcoin blockchain and find out who is behind the addresses. Often, good old-fashioned policing is needed, he says.
Tax authorities also have access to these tools, so trying to evade tax obligations is risky, stresses Ølnes.
– Isn’t there a lot of fraud in crypto?
– For Bitcoin’s share, criminal/shady activity has decreased significantly and can no longer be considered a big problem. There is probably more money laundering through the mainstream banking system, adds Ølnes.
For other cryptocurrencies, the situation is different, he says.
– There’s probably quite a bit of fraud, both because it’s used for criminal or shady activity, but also because many of the cryptocurrencies (over 20,000 outside the Bitcoin day note) are of pure fraud, explains Ølnes.
– Isn’t Bitcoin energy-intensive?
Bitcoin’s security depends on the use of electrical energy, and Bitcoin consumes a lot of electricity. There is no reason to hide it, says Ølnes.
– But the discussion must be nuanced: Bitcoin can be a driver for the development of more renewable energies where it is not initially profitable, and mining activity (Mining day. how) can also become an important factor in balancing the energy grid of the future, he says.
– In your opinion, what is the best and most exciting thing about crypto?
Ølnes says it is exciting that we have received a completely new type of currency whose development we can follow from the beginning.
– It’s almost like an open laboratory and I think it’s strange that more economists aren’t interested in it, he says.
Ølnes also believes that cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin, will become important as an unsupervised alternative to the current digital currency. Also in Norway long term.
– Bitcoin can also give many who do not have access to a bank or banking services an opportunity to participate in economic development. Cryptocurrency can also be a lifeline in countries with high inflation and an important alternative for those persecuted in authoritarian or totalitarian systems. If, in the long term, it becomes the case that states choose to seize the accounts of people who are in opposition, as we have seen recently in Canada, Bitcoin could also be a solution to this, he concludes.
Listen to the interview with Ølnes here:
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