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The power of Bitcoin

We have less and less money in our pocket and cryptocurrency seems to be gaining ground


But how good is that for our planet? New research shows that mining cryptocurrency is more taxing on the planet than mining raw materials for ordinary money. Is this the cashless future?

Where to buy Bitcoin?

Do you still have cash in your wallet? Almost all our payments are now made digitally. Large household wallets are a thing of the past, little ones for only your cards are the future. Moderator Desiree Hoving spoke to three experts about the disappearance of cash, control over your banking affairs and the emergence of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins. Check: for more information


On November 5, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education will publish a study on cryptocurrency energy consumption. The so-called “mining” of the new payment method does not go without a struggle. The research shows that, with the exception of aluminum, “cryptomins” cost more energy than mining raw materials for cash. They examined four different types: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero. In two and a half years, this cost 17, 7, 7, and 14 megajoules. This is comparable, but often slightly higher than the mining of raw materials from which money is made. This is expected to increase as people use more cryptocurrency.


In addition, generating that energy again causes a large CO2 emission. The scientists had to estimate the amount of CO2 – the amount also depends on how energy is generated in a specific country – but assumed 3 to 15 million tons of CO2 for all four species.


The music of street musician Deniz Kavafoglu welcomes the slowly trickling visitors of the NEMO Kennislink Live evening. The sound of his handpan rings through the hall of NEMO Science Museum and even attracts people outside. You can donate a small amount, both in cash and via pin – matching the theme of the evening.


It is striking that almost everyone does this with cash. Especially when it turns out later that only half of the room has coins and bills and that some of them don’t even have a physical wallet anymore. Is cash getting more and more rare?


Debit card payments are also possible with street musician Deniz Kavafoglu.

According to the first speaker of the evening, economic historian Oscar Gelderblom, we did everything in cash about sixty years ago. Then at the end of the month you got a pay bag to take home, while now everything comes in very handy to your bank account.


“A hundred years ago, almost everyone had almost nothing,” says Gelderblom. You kept all the money you had then. As the economy grew, we grew richer and we no longer needed all our money for primary needs.


Emergence of the banks

Banks took advantage of this and started offering us savings accounts. Gelderblom says: “Paying, saving, borrowing, insuring: these four things people have always had to do. Also in time for banks. ” In the 1960s you bought a loaf of bread from the bakery, now you take out a loan from the bank at a considerable interest amount.


The better the economy went, the more money we brought to these banks and the bigger the banks got. In addition to savings accounts, they now also offered us loans and mortgages with interest, so that they could actually earn money from us.


Speaker Oscar Gelderblom talks about the rise of banks and their earnings model during the 1960s. He conducts research into old cash books in the Netherlands. Do you have any questions or would you like to donate a cash book yourself? Send an email.

 NEMO Kennislink Live

But, emphasizes Gelderblom, it is of course nice that you do not have to visit Ziggo, Achmea or your landlord with a big bag of money every month, and that this is all done automatically. We have used little cash for years, almost everything you can arrange through the bank. Does this mean that coins and bills will eventually disappear completely and payments will only go through banks?


Alternative money?

But not only cash is under pressure. The emergence of cryptocurrency may also have provided a good alternative for digital money. About ten years ago, the first cryptocurrency was designed: bitcoin. The underlying idea was to bypass the central party, the bank, and arrange everything via an independent network. In this way, banks would gain less power and control over our money.


Everyone in the room has heard of this alternative money before, and a small number are even the proud owners of cryptocurrencies, including our second speaker of the evening, Anna Berlee. Berlee is an assistant professor of private law at Utrecht University and conducts research into cryptocurrency and the technology behind it.


Why is cryptocurrency not real money? Speaker Anna Berlee explains it.

 NEMO Kennislink Live

At the moment we cannot yet call the cryptocurrency real money, explains Anna Berlee. “Now it’s just speculation, it’s not a form of payment, but more of an investment tool,” she says. You can divide money in different ways: cash in your wallet and cash in your bank account. Cryptocurrency doesn’t fall under any of these categories, so we can’t call it money legally.


Money is communication

Rob van Hilten, founder and director of Qoin, has already devised more than sixty different money and payment systems other than the euro in Europe. According to him, it doesn’t matter that you can’t officially call bitcoin money. “Money is about communication. You can use various media for this: the entirety of calling, e-mailing and twittering ensures that I communicate. The idea that you only use the euro for money communication is very specific, ”says Van Hilten.


According to him, good communication requires more payment systems than just the official euro. This is all about resilience. If one system goes down, another system can take over. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to use the system that you like. If you look around you, there have always been more systems than just the euro: be careful, do something for your neighbors, help children with something. These are all services that you ultimately get something else in return and which therefore complement our regular money system.

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