As society’s structure and organization became more complex over time, the need for an evolving monetary system arose from the limitations of barter. Barter is not suitable as a means to exchange goods and services in an economic system larger than a tribe or family; barter was unsuitable for expanding societies that needed a more efficient method to exchange goods and services.
Hence, about 2,600 years ago, a new and more sophisticated medium of exchange emerged in Lydia — a region recognized as modern Turkey — and materialized with stamped coins to face the challenges of barter and facilitate trade.
A medium of exchange is an intermediary item that is widely accepted to facilitate the trade of goods and services between two parties. It is one of money’s three universally agreed functions, along with store of value and unit of account. A store of value is any asset that maintains its value over time without depreciating. A unit of account is a standard monetary unit that measures the market value of goods, services, economic activities, assets and liabilities.
Bitcoin Magazine takes you through the significance of money and its different spectrums. After exploring what money is and what underlines its value, we now dive into its primary functions, starting with the medium of exchange.
What is a Medium of Exchange
A medium of exchange is an intermediary instrument that facilitates the buying and selling of goods or services. In remote times, shells, whale teeth, salt, tobacco and other objects that occurred rarely in nature were employed. Nowadays, currencies are the most common media of exchange as they’re suitable intermediaries between the products or services people want to trade. Still, currency needs to possess specific properties.
The first medium of exchange coin was created by the Lydians, who hailed from Anatolia in modern-day Turkey. The coin was made of a gold and silver alloy to certify weight and purity and was stamped with images of merchants, landowners or other well-known entities.
While gold and other metals had likely already been used as a medium of exchange, the Lydians first issued official standardized coins that could be accepted as an intermediary good with a set value recognized as money. They thereby economized on the assaying of the unstamped coins, cutting out some transaction costs in dealing with monetary metals.
In our modern economies, governments must ensure that their currencies are made widely available to the public, that they are not easy to counterfeit and that they are available in sufficient quantities to satisfy public demand.
Why Is a Medium of Exchange Needed?
A medium of exchange allows us to trade more efficiently by solving the barter problem, often referred to as the coincidence of wants — a term used to describe an instance where I have the item that you want and you have the item that I want. The mental burden of having to find this exact scenario over and over again in order to trade is considerable, and an impediment to a growing economy.
Imagine I have a battery and want to trade it for some medicine. I would have to find someone with medicine who is in need of a battery and then negotiate a trade, which can be a complicated endeavor. A medium of exchange makes trade more accessible by allowing people to trade goods indirectly for other good
As the primary purpose of a medium of exchange is to facilitate transactions between parties, to be effective a medium of exchange must be recognized and accepted by all parties. Here, the concept of a medium of exchange converges with the purpose of a good store of value since its stability allows owners to store it for an extended period with relatively low risks as an investment.
Money As a Medium of Exchange
Money serves as the most efficient medium of exchange that eliminates the issue of the coincidence of wants commonly associated with barter, allowing individuals, companies and systems to transact with ease.
As an intermediary tool, money enables buyers and sellers to participate in the market as equal players, leading to fair trade and increased production efficiency. This is because money helps producers to identify what goods or services to produce and the optimal pricing model for them. Likewise, buyers can plan their purchases based on predictable and stable pricing models.
When purchasing a product or service, buyers typically bid according to the asking price, which in turn allows producers to determine the variety and quantity of items to be produced. However, if consumers are unable to accurately value a product or service, it can lead to difficulties in budget planning, potentially resulting in a chaotic economy due to the challenges of estimating demand and supply.
Essential Elements of a Medium of Exchange
An item or system must possess certain properties that facilitate efficiency and functionality to be a suitable medium of exchange. It’s not necessary for an item to be backed by a commodity or any other asset to become money. Instead, it must evolve to become the most salable good following an evolutionary process that starts with being recognized as a store of value before being a medium of exchange and eventually becoming a unit of account.
The three dimensions of the most salable goods are across time, space and through scales.
To possess the function of a medium of exchange, a salable good should be easily transported and accepted over long distances, and be used in indirect exchange for trade rather than for direct consumption.
Such a function can be achieved through two key properties: wide acceptability by the public and portability, which makes it easy to move over large distances.
What Makes a Good Medium of Exchange
The aforementioned properties make any item or system a good medium of exchange. Also, a good medium of exchange should hold value over time and be censorship resistant other than serving its purpose as an intermediary for exchanging goods or services between two parties.
In the case of currencies serving the purpose of money, they are only as good as the governments that issue them. Political instability, rampant inflation and government malfunction inevitably affect the value and stability of a nation’s currency.
The digital era has brought new opportunities to develop an innovative monetary system based on protected cryptography and distributed networks that ensure decentralization. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency that can be regarded as a good medium of exchange, possessing all the essential criteria that make trade transactions easy, fast and secure. It’s already proved to be a good store of value and, since it owns the properties necessary to be a good medium of exchange, it also has the potential to become a unit of account.
One key advantage of bitcoin as a medium of exchange is its ability to settle transactions quickly. Bitcoin transactions are confirmed and settled every 10 minutes on the blockchain, making them faster than traditional banking methods, which can take days or even weeks to complete. This speed is especially important for businesses that require fast and efficient payment processing.
Another important feature of bitcoin as a medium of exchange is the efficiency of its Layer 2 solutions, such as the Lightning Network. The Lightning Network is a second-layer solution built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain that enables instant and low-cost transactions between parties. With the Lightning Network, market participants can conduct microtransactions without having to wait for confirmations on the blockchain, making it a highly efficient solution for small transactions.
It also provides extra properties like censorship resistance to better protect the people who live under authoritarian governments, and absolute scarcity, since its total supply moves closer to the maximum 21-million amount with every new block mined. Bitcoin’s revolutionary system may disrupt the status quo and its limitations, but it’s still in the infancy stage and like anything so innovative, it will take time to catch on.
The Bottom Line
Society has evolved throughout the centuries, as have its monetary systems, which have adapted to its expanding size and economy. Despite the complexity of global commerce being made more efficient by the internet, many challenges, like online security and privacy, still need to be overcome. While these challenges are unique to the modern era, evolution is inherently part of the nature of trade.
The methods and means of trade are in a perpetual state of change and development, keeping up with technological advancements and the evolving needs of society. Despite these changes, the properties that underpin trade remain constant. As the trading landscape transforms, the fundamental properties of wide acceptability, portability, value preservation and, more recently, censorship resistance are required for a tool to function well as a medium of exchange, and they have remained unchanged over time.
Therefore, as trade continues to evolve, the importance of these underlying properties will continue to be crucial in determining the success and stability of any economy. The good that best satisfies these properties should emerge as the dominant medium of exchange, but this evolution can take time.
The concept of a “store of value” refers to goods that are capable of retaining or increasing their worth over time rather than declining in value. This term is used to describe a mechanism that enables individuals to preserve their wealth without experiencing any loss in value over time.
A store of value is an asset, a currency or a commodity that can be trusted to hold its value over time; ideally, it doesn’t bear much risk. Traditionally, people who are less tolerant to risk will invest in a store of value with an enduring lifespan, a stable demand and low volatility.
Fiat currencies are weak stores of value since they depreciate over time due to inflation. Commodities like bitcoin, gold and a collection of other monetary metals have good store-of-value attributes because they are relatively limited in supply and do not deteriorate over time, thereby maintaining their value.
Salability is the critical property that allows something to be freely used as money and defines a physical good or asset that can be quickly sold. To have salability, money must be divisible (scale dimension), transportable (space dimension) and durable (time dimension). When an asset possesses salability across time, we have a good store of value because it can be trusted to maintain its value into the future.
One benchmark often used to understand the store-of-value function is that the value of an ounce of gold happened to match the price of a high-quality men’s suit. This principle is known as the “gold-to-decent-suit ratio,” and its roots can be traced back to Ancient Rome, where the cost of a top-of-the-line toga was said to be equivalent to an ounce of gold. After 2,000 years, the price — defined in gold — of a high-quality suit is still close to the price of an equivalent Ancient Roman toga.
Money is an essential tool for trading goods and services, but it is also important to have a good store of value to save and secure a better future for ourselves and our families. While fiat currencies are suitable as a medium of exchange, they are not reliable stores of value, as they lose value over time due to inflation, historically around 2-3% per year.
In extreme cases, such as in Venezuela, South Sudan and Zimbabwe, hyperinflation has led to astronomical rates of inflation, making these fiat currencies very poor stores of value. While these examples serve as outliers, rising inflation levels are becoming more common in modern times, leading to a natural mechanism to save for the future and to find ways to beat 2-3% inflation rates.
It’s important to have a reliable store of value to secure the value of our hard-earned money over time. As poor stores of value, fiat currencies are thought to discourage people from saving or even earning money in the first place.
Is money a good store of value?
In the modern age, we use “fiat” currencies,, the term derived from the Latin word “fiat” meaning a decree or an arbitrary order; it’s basically a promise of what a value could be. Such a concept was established when governments’ paper or minted money could be redeemed for a set amount of a physical commodity. Since then, the term fiat has remained, even though currencies aren’t backed by commodities or possess any intrinsic value of their own.
While fiat currency has many properties that identify it as money, it’s a poor store of value since it isn’t linked to physical reserves, such as gold or silver. The result is that fiat currencies gradually lose value due to inflation or suddenly in the event of hyperinflation.
Fiat currencies are considered soft money because they are too dependent on a government’s price stability targets — generally focused on price stability, with general prices increasing at 2% per year — instead of allowing the market to naturally decide prices. This approach leads governments to gradually siphon off the value of the money while increasing the price of everything else in the process.
Essential Elements of a Store of Value
During its evolution as money, an item will develop through three different phases, starting with a store of value before becoming a medium of exchange and eventually a unit of account. The three dimensions of the most salable goods are across time, space and through scales.
A store of value is the most salable good, one that has the ability to preserve its value over time.
To possess the function of a store of value, a salable good should be scarce; it must have a limited supply compared to other goods. It should also be durable so that it can be used repeatedly without losing its functionality.
Scarcity: a good that’s limited in supply relative to other goods and to the demand for it. Computer scientist Nick Szabo defined scarcity as “unforgeable costliness,” meaning the cost of creating something cannot be faked. If money is too plentiful, it loses value over time as more units can and will be created, and more will be required to purchase a good or service.
Durability: this property refers to the ability of a good to maintain its physical and functional properties over time. This means that the currency should be able to withstand wear and tear and remain in circulation for a long period without deteriorating or losing its value.
Immutability: Immutability is a desirable and new property of money because it ensures that once a transaction is confirmed and recorded, it cannot be altered or reversed.
What’s a good store of value?
Many different assets can serve as a store of value, but defining the best is constantly debated among investors and largely depends on market dynamics and investors’ preferences. It is worth noting that certain assets may lose their store-of-value status over time. A prime example of this is silver, which experienced a decrease in its store-of-value functionality as its supply increased due to its growing use in industrial applications rather than its traditional use as a monetary metal.
Initially regarded as a speculative asset due to its notable price fluctuations, bitcoin increasingly became a store of value as investors and more people realized its potential worth as a new monetary asset. Bitcoin represents the discovery of digital, sound money and is a scientific revolution that is proving so far to not only be a store of value but also a means to increase value.
Bitcoin is becoming a significant force in the economy because it meets the requirements of a store of value better than any other form of money.
Scarcity: Bitcoin has a finite supply of 21 million coins, which makes it resistant to the arbitrary inflation that ails traditional currencies. This limited supply gives it a scarcity value, making it a valuable asset to hold and store wealth.
Durability: Bitcoin is a purely data-based, immutable form of money. Its digital ledger system uses proof of work and economic incentives to resist any attempts to alter it, ensuring that it remains a reliable store of value over time.
Immutability: once a transaction is confirmed and recorded on the blockchain, it cannot be altered or reversed. This immutability is a critical feature of Bitcoin because it ensures that the integrity of the ledger is maintained, and transactions cannot be tampered with or falsified. This is especially important in an increasingly digital world, where trust and security are paramount concerns.
Precious metals like gold, palladium and platinum have long been good stores of value due to their perpetual shelf life and industrial use cases. They are relatively limited in supply which makes their value appreciate relative to fiat money. Bitcoin is even more limited in supply than gold and precious metals and has appreciated in value against gold since its inception.
Physically storing large quantities of gold is expensive and challenging. For this reason, investors often choose to invest in digital gold or gold stocks, which are subject to counterparty risks. Gemstones like diamonds and sapphires are useful too as they are easier to store and transport.
Real estate is one of the most common stores of value due to its tangibility and utility. Over time, its value tends to increase, at least this has been the case since the 1970s. Before then, real estate and land kept pace with prices, having real returns around ~0% over longer periods (subject to wars and crashes, etc). Despite temporary downfalls along the way, it remains stable, offering physical land or construction owners a sense of safety when investing in it.
Real estate can be any physical property like land or a home that can be used as a primary residence, a vacation home, or a commercial property to rent or sell. The downside of real estate is that it’s not liquid or censorship resistant. This lack of liquidity can be problematic for property owners who require access to cash quickly and can be subject to government intervention or legal action.
Buying stocks on the NYSE, the LSE and the JPX markets has proved to be a good investment over time because they have increased their worth over the years: Stocks have been decent stores of value. However, they may experience high volatility and depend highly on market forces and economic movements, which makes them similar to fiat currencies.
Index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are another way to get exposure to the stock and equity markets and provide an easy way for investors to diversify their portfolios.
Over a long time, such markets have also proved to increase in value, making them good stores of value. ETFs are also more cost- and tax-efficient than similar mutual funds.
Other stores of value
People can get creative with their favorite stores of value that sometimes match their passions or interests. For example, fine wines, classic cars, watches or art can be good stores of value as their worth typically appreciates over time.
What’s a bad store of value
Perishable items are goods that expire and lose value over time, gradually becoming worthless.
Food makes for a poor store of value, as it has an expiry date. A ticket to a concert or for transport becomes worthless after the expiry date, and are also considered perishable.
Therefore, they are not considered a good store of value.
We mentioned that fiat currencies do not retain their value over time, as the chart below shows.
It is mainly due to inflation that they lose value because every year, the price of goods and services tends to rise compared to the dollar and other fiat currencies. As a result, currencies consistently lose purchasing power.
Cryptocurrency alternatives to bitcoin are very similar to speculative stocks, with even higher risks since most have short lifespans and almost all lose value versus bitcoin over the long term.
Cryptocurrencies with longer lifespans prioritize functionality over security, scarcity and censorship resistance, making them poor stores of value, considering their poor economic propositions and weak use cases.
According to research conducted by Swan Bitcoin, altcoins have proven to be a bad investment. The study analyzed 8,000 cryptocurrencies since 2016 and found that 2,635 of them had underperformed versus Bitcoin and a staggering 5,175 of the cryptocurrencies no longer exist.
Speculative stocks are small-cap assets, also called penny stocks, that trade at less than $5 per share. They are not considered good stores of value because they are highly speculative.
Due to their high volatility and low market caps, they can quickly and suddenly increase a lot or lose all of their value. They are considered risky investments and certainly do not make good stores of value.
For a long time, government bonds like U.S. treasuries were considered great stores of value simply because governments backed them. However, negative interest rates applied for years have highly affected the economies of big countries like Japan, Germany and other European countries, making government bonds unattractive for the average investor. Some bonds are meant to protect beneficiaries from inflation such as I-bonds and TIPS. However, they are still government-led and rely on the Bureau of Labor Statistics to accurately calculate the inflation rate (which it may choose, or be influenced, not to do).
The bottom line
To sum up, a store of value tends to maintain or increase its purchasing power over time, depending on the law of supply and demand, which can also be used to determine whether or not something might be a good store of value.
Many still regard bitcoin as an experiment. However, its relatively short life has proved that it offers all those properties typical of money and is a good store of value. The next challenge will be to prove that it can also be a unit of account.
Unit of account is the thing that measures the value of goods and services. It’s an essential function for something to be [or become?] money. In simple terms, it is a standard measure of value, a common scaling system through which the value of products can be calculated and compared.
Countries typically have distinct units of account, identified as the national or regional currency, such as the euro (EUR) or the British pound (GBP). At the same time, internationally, the U.S. dollar (USD) is the unit of account that is mainly used for global invoicing and setting prices internationally.
A unit of account is whatever forms the standard measure for comparing prices with incomes or assets; it allows money users to assess the value of money and is the common denomination for transfer value across different types of goods and services. When a unit of account is defined by the same measure or denomination (such as a specific currency), it’s easier to compare the value of various assets and transactions.
Having a standard measure makes it easier to determine the value of two different items, such as the price of a house and a car. Knowing the car’s cost and the house’s price makes budgeting and transactions easier to assess.
It also allows us to process mathematical operations, such as calculating profits, losses and income, giving numerical values to what we produce, trade and consume.
Typically, what we identify as a unit of account is money — in recent times, backed by governments and national currencies. It’s what we use as a standard measure for all our daily transactions.
Money as a Unit of Account
Money as a unit of account is also used to measure a country’s economy. For example, the American economy is measured in U.S. dollars, the Chinese in yuan and so forth. Internationally, things tend to be simplified with the U.S. dollar as a unit of account, making it easier to compare different economies.
Money is the standard measure used in economics and financial markets to establish how much people can borrow or lend, and keep track of their assets’ value. Applicable interest rates are also calculated in the same unit of account.
Finally, money is also used to calculate the net worth of individuals, businesses and organizations of different types, including the monetary value of their assets.
Essential Elements of a Unit of Account
To gain acceptance as money by the market, a good typically goes through a three-stage process: starting as a store of value, progressing to a medium of exchange and finally becoming a unit of account to establish its quantifiable monetary value.
We’ve seen that a unit of account is used as a standard unit of measurement for the market value of goods and services and to be salable. For a good to be defined and credible as a unit of account, it must have the following properties:
Divisibility: As a unit of account, money must be divisible into smaller units to facilitate transactions, express the value of goods and services more accurately and effectively, and compare various items’ values more easily.
Fungible: Fungibility is an essential characteristic of a unit of account and occurs when two units of the same currency are interchangeable. Hence, the value of one unit of account is identical to another of the same kind. One dollar bill, for instance, has the same value as another dollar bill. Often seen as a property of a medium of exchange, its importance lies in its function rather than its classification.
How Does Inflation Affect the Unit of Account?
Inflation doesn’t make the Unit of Account (UoA) function worse; however, price instability does make it challenging to compare the worth of goods and services over time. The unit of account serves to facilitate the understanding of supply and demand dynamics in the economy, but its reliability is severely eroded by inflation.
As a result, market participants may struggle to make informed decisions regarding consumption, investments and savings.
What Makes a Good Unit of Account?
Money that is divisible, and fungible makes a good unit of account. Money not impacted by inflation would make an even better unit of account. People often argue that we should have a type of money that’s measurable, stable and constant, like the metric system.
If the unit of account was standardized like the metric system, it would be much easier to accurately and consistently assess the value of goods and services over time. However, value is subjective and shifting, and the world’s circumstances differ over time, so there cannot be any guarantee that value is always represented in the same way.
While we will never have a type of money that becomes as measurable as the metric system, we can have money that has a preprogrammed, inelastic supply and is detached from the real-world value of things.
Bitcoin as a Unit of Account
If a type of money has the primary properties discussed, is accepted globally and is also censorship resistant, it’s potentially the best unit of account ever created.
Bitcoin, however, is still relatively new and has a lot of maturing to do before it can be recognized as a consistent unit of account. Since Bitcoin has a fixed maximum supply of 21 million coins, it is not subject to the same inflationary pressures of traditional fiat currencies, which can be printed ad infinitum by central banks. This should provide a level of predictability and certainty for businesses and individuals when assessing the value of goods and services, making long-term financial planning easier and more reliable.
Furthermore, the lack of inflationary pressures on the unit of account would also promote more responsible economic decision-making by governments and businesses. Since the temptation to print more money to fund government programs or stimulate the economy would be removed, policymakers would have to find other ways to manage economic growth, such as through innovation, productivity and investment.
In addition, If bitcoin were to become the global reserve currency, it would promote greater international trade and investment by eliminating the need for currency exchanges and mitigating the risk of currency fluctuations. This would make it easier and less expensive for individuals and businesses to transact with one another across borders, facilitating greater economic cooperation and growth worldwide.
Overall, a unit of account not impacted by inflation would offer a stable foundation for the global economy, enabling businesses and individuals to plan for the future more confidently while promoting more responsible economic decision-making and international trade.
Money is crucial to regulating our lives and economies. Here’s an essential guide to understanding money and its role in today’s economic system.
Money is something that most of us take for granted, as we use it daily to buy goods and services. We constantly transact in money, think in money and strive to earn more of it. However, few genuinely understand what money is, and even those who do often perceive it in very different ways.
Some say that money is a form of energy that can be transformed and exchanged. Others see it as a technological tool that facilitates trade and commerce. Still others argue that money is a social construct shaped and governed by cultural norms and values. All these views can be correct since the concept of money is much deeper than the way it is commonly framed.
Our perspectives on money shape our views on how we use it. Money assumes various forms, spanning physical tender, precious metals, bank deposits, credit and, more recently, bitcoin. The most recognized form of money today is physical tender, encompassing coins and paper notes, which are distributed by the government.
So, What is Money?
Money is, first and foremost, a means to transact, to purchase goods and services. This function is commonly referred to as a medium of exchange. It is a good you acquire not for its own sake but merely as a means to purchase another good.
✅ Money is a market good, a good you acquire in order to acquire other goods. For this to happen, the market (sellers) must accept it as a medium of exchange.
❌ Money is not a consumption good, goods that directly satisfy consumer wants and needs. (Examples: a shirt, a pair of shoes, bread, cola, etc.)
❌ Money is not a capital good, which are physical assets that an organization uses to manufacture products and services that consumers will use later — e.g., machines, tools, vehicles, buildings, etc.
How we conceptualize and understand money has evolved over time, and different schools of thought have emerged regarding its nature and function.
Karl Marx would say that money is the product of a commodity economy, where the source and nature of money are based on the labor theory of value, while Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian school of economics, defined money as the relative ability for goods to be sold in a given market at a given time and price — a good’s “salability.” The most salable good is the good chosen to facilitate indirect trade based on the lowest rate of declining marginal utility.
Proponents of the Austrian school would say that the supply of money is either extremely durable in relation to current production — as it was under the gold standard. Another view is that money is determined exogenously by a government authority — a position often taken by many of today’s economists, educated in a largely Keynesian paradigm. In recent history, the choice has been either gold or government.
The global economy has undergone significant changes since money’s last fleeting connection to gold ended in 1971. The fiat standard has enabled central banks to print money with complete discretion, leading to inflation and currency devaluation. Digital money ushered in novel opportunities for enhanced global trade and investment while intensifying competition and economic uncertainty. The shift to untethered money has brought forth a plethora of advantages and disadvantages, which shape today’s economic landscape.
Why Do We Need Money?
Money is necessary for a society that wants to trade, as it facilitates exchange and allows us to meet our basic survival needs — like shelter, food and clothing — and enables us to live within specific security and safety standards.
Without the invention of money, people would still be using barter or keeping ledgers of credit and debt. Barter works well when the needs and supplies of two parties match, as they can simply exchange these items directly without any monetary medium.. This is called the coincidence of wants or the double coincidence of wants.
It’s immediately apparent that a barter economy restricts the ability to trade, as it requires people to possess goods (preferably non-perishable) that they are willing to swap. They must also find other people who want the goods you own, and lastly, you must want the goods they possess. The coincidence of wants does not support a scalable monetary system.
The solution is for society — or the market — to agree on an efficient good that will enable the exchange of products and services between all market participants. Money removes the necessity to find a particular person to barter with while offering a market to exchange your goods or services for a common medium of exchange. You will use that medium to buy what you need from others who also accept it as money.
By providing the optionality, money is the best natural mechanism to save for the future. It allows economies to thrive by increasing trade and commerce; modern economies could simply not exist without money.
With little access to money, our freedoms and time are limited as we are forced to spend most of our time working to obtain the money necessary to cover the basic necessities. Having access to more money is empowering, as it allows us to make more informed decisions about the hours we need to work and the goods and services we consume — the neighborhood we live in, the car we drive, the restaurants we eat at and even the healthcare we choose.
It also provides beneficial opportunities for our children, as parents can afford better food, better education and a better way to pass on their wealth, assuming that the money can hold its value through time — which is one of the three universally accepted functions of money.
Functions of Money
Money has taken different forms over the years, from gold and silver to glass beads in Africa or wampum used by Native Americans. What’s remained constant across continents and throughout history is that money must perform the following three functions: a medium of exchange, a unit of account and a store of value.
1. Medium of exchange: Money serves as a medium of exchange when it allows people to trade goods and services easily without resorting to barter. This simplifies transactions and makes commerce more efficient.
As an intermediary between the products or services people want to trade, money is a suitable medium of exchange. “[money] is not acquired for its own properties, but for its salability.” – “The Bitcoin Standard,”Saifedean Ammous.
2. Unit of Account: Money provides a standard measure of value, enabling people to compare the worth of different goods and services. A consistent price allows people to measure the market value of goods, services, economic activities, assets and liabilities. The price is what indicates the measurement of a good’s market value relative to other goods on the market.
When goods, services, assets or salaries are quoted in a recognizable unit of account, it allows buyers and sellers to quickly determine if a trade is worthwhile. Prices expressed in a unit of account lets market participants decide to operate complex tasks, accumulate capital or engage in economic calculations.
3. Store of Value: Money serves as a store of value, allowing individuals and organizations to save and store wealth through time, without its value deteriorating. Current expectations of future supply and demand for an asset drive the ability of something to be a good store of value.
A store of value must be a durable good with limited supply issuance. Consumption goods such as milk and capital goods like machinery or cars are poor stores of value because they can perish, corrode, depreciate or lose value over time.
Andreas Antonopoulos, a long-time Bitcoin educator, argues that technology and network systems in the modern era may have given rise to a darker side of money. He introduced a fourth function:
4. System of Control (external link): Money as a system of control refers to how money can be manipulated to serve political agendas. This has turned financial services companies into deputies of the system. As deputies, they get certain perks, such as never going to jail, but this has come at the expense of corruption and economic exclusion.
When money is used as a system of control, it corrupts its other functions, including its ability to serve as a medium of exchange and store of value. Money abused in this way works to the advantage of corrupt politicians and dictators, as it ensures that political dissent can be censored very effectively by limiting transactions or blocking purchases.
In the 20th century, governments monopolized the issuance of money and continually undermined its use as a store of value, creating a false narrative that money is primarily a medium of exchange. Money that doesn’t store value into the future results in a society that concerns itself less about the future.
Sound money, in contrast, is defined as money with a purchasing power determined by markets, independent of governments. Market participants, left to their own devices, naturally select a monetary medium that best fulfills the three functions of money. To achieve this status, it needs to have strong monetary properties.
Properties of Money
There are six widely accepted properties of money and it has been this way for centuries. So long as an item has these properties, it’s a good candidate for becoming money. Whichever monetary candidate records the highest score against these properties is likely to be used as the de facto unit of trade.
Durable — Money must be durable to be passed around and used repeatedly without the danger of wear and damage and the consequent depreciation of its value.
Portable — Money should be easy to transport, physically or digitally, so that it can be transferred in trade. Cash and gold are portable in small quantities, yet more significant amounts can be challenging to move over long distances or through border controls.
Divisible — Money must be capable of being divided into smaller parts. For example, a $10 bill can be exchanged for two $5 bills without diminishing its (combined) value. A cow or a stone, on the other hand, is not divisible.
Fungible — Money should be completely interchangeable: one dollar should always be equal to another dollar, the same way two $5 bills are interchangeable with one $10 bill.
Scarcity — Scarcity, or limited supply, is another essential property of sound money. Computer scientist Nick Szabo defined scarcity as “unforgeable costliness,” meaning the cost of creating something cannot be faked. If money is too plentiful, it loses value over time as more units can and will be created, and more will be required to purchase a good or service.
Verifiable — Money should be a verifiable record accepted as a medium of exchange to pay for goods and services or to repay a debt in a specific country. It should be easy to recognize and hard to counterfeit; otherwise, it would lose value for payment purposes and would be rejected by vendors.
Each of these properties underpins the functions of money, encapsulated by Erik Yakes below as well as in his series on the dimensions of money. Clearly, owning a scarce good that’s durable is a good means of storing value through time. But that’s not enough to make something money; it also has to be desirable, or acceptable and portable if it is to be used in exchange for other goods and services. Once this is achieved, it can become a unit of account so long as it’s divisible and fungible.
Since the invention of digital money, three additional monetary properties can be considered, including established history, censorship resistance and programmability, which have significantly impacted how we perceive and use money in the digital age.
Established history — The Lindy effect suggests that the life expectancy of certain non-perishable entities, such as technologies or ideas, is directly related to their current age. In essence, the longer these entities have survived and remained relevant, the greater their chances of continued existence into the future. This longevity indicates resistance to change, obsolescence or competition, which increases their chance of survival over time.
Censorship resistance — Decentralization ensures that nobody, nowhere, can have their money confiscated or blocked from usage. Censorship resistance is a relatively new monetary property for those who want to be sure their wealth is untouchable.
Smart/Programmable — Typically refers to blockchain technology systems which allow certain conditions to be met before money can be spent. It’s a mechanism for specifying the automated behavior of that money through a computer program.
Money does not need to be “backed” by anything; it only needs these properties to have value.
The idea that money must be backed by something only exists because paper money was once redeemable or “backed by” gold, where intrinsically useless fiat money piggybacked onto gold’s valuable properties.
Bitcoin promises to be the next step in the evolution of money. It’s built upon the same properties that once made gold the de facto monetary medium for centuries, only it’s been enhanced with the additional properties of extreme portability and fungibility — those very properties that allowed fiat to usurp gold during the last century.
Unlike gold and fiat, bitcoin is built for the digital age. Its supply is strictly regulated by its code and enforced by those who use it. It’s a system of rules without rulers, that allows transactions to be transmitted globally in mere seconds and settled within minutes without incurring the exorbitant expenses and approval typically associated with traditional financial systems.
For the first time in history, we have a monetary system based on a distributed, immutable technology that is transparent, objective, programmable and well suited to move economic value across time and space without relying on a trusted intermediary and the issuance by central banks. Satoshi Nakamoto created peer-to-peer electronic cash that would not require trust in third parties for transactions, and its supply could not be altered by any other player.
It’s often said that gold is the king’s money, and fiat is government money. If so, then bitcoin is undoubtedly the people’s money.
Many who theorize about money believe that the connection to a commodity at its origin is the real reason any money could initially gain value, or hold that the support of rulers is what establishes monetary value; proponents of those arguments therefore believe that money is a creature of the state.
Money has a considerable history and has evolved numerous times. The last significant evolution marked the end of the gold standard and ushered in the beginning of fiat money. The state — via central banks — eventually destroyed two critical properties of money: soundness and sovereignty. These are the properties that enabled value to be passed down through generations.
The emergence of Bitcoin should be viewed within this scheme of things. As a medium of exchange, a global unit of account, a store of value, an international and online method for settlement, it’s conducive to individual sovereignty.
Bitcoin emerged as an alternative to government restrictions on individuals who transfer money and as an alternative to the state’s control over the money supply. As long as those premises continue to exist, then demand for bitcoin will continue to increase.
A paper wallet is an early method used to protect bitcoin offline. Better methods have replaced it, but people still use paper wallets to store bitcoin safely and inexpensively.
What’s a Paper Wallet?
A paper wallet is a physical document or object that contains a brand new public address and a private key that has been printed out. It allows its users to store the bitcoin sent from another wallet for better safekeeping. Paper wallets are considered non-custodial cold storage because users control the private keys that can and should be printed out offline, thus removing the risks of exposing them to an internet connection’s hacks.
There’s only one way for a malicious actor to get hold of your private key and steal your funds: physically getting control of your piece of paper where the private key is printed.
While paper wallets have decreased in usage over the years because digitally secure devices like hardware wallets have replaced them, they still get some traction among Bitcoiners because of their security and affordability. Today, they are mostly used as Bitcoin ATM receipts.
How do they work
Dedicated generator apps are used to create paper wallets; they print out a public address for receiving bitcoin and a private key that you need to prove ownership and thereby spend your bitcoin. The paper wallet or document might also have a QR code embedded so that it can easily be scanned and signed to make a transaction.
It is highly recommended that any paper wallet generator apps be used offline to prevent hackers from detecting the private key. Another good practice would be scanning your computer or smartphone with security software to establish whether it has been compromised by malware or any other cyberattack.
Some paper wallet generators will offer the option to save private and public keys on your computer in PDF format. This is strongly advised against because a PDF is constantly exposed to online threats. Similarly, digital pictures or scans of your wallets should be avoided to prevent hackers from detecting them.
Also, ensure that your device’s wireless and Bluetooth are turned off because hackers can exploit those signals to access your device.
You should take further measures to protect any funds stored in paper wallets. Other than working offline when generating a paper wallet, printing the document from a device connected to a printer through a wired and not wireless connection would be a good idea. After printing, ensure you dispose of anything that can digitally store the keys during or after the generation process.
Also, you could generate and use multiple paper wallets, i.e., generate a different wallet for expenses you pay using bitcoins, and use different ones for long-term bitcoin storage.
Advantages and disadvantages
Paper wallets have some advantages, including:
Maximum protection from cyberattacks, hardware failures, operating system errors and breakdowns, to name a few.
Useful for long-term storage of funds.
Can be easily produced as gifts, although Opendime and Satscard are better solutions for gifting nowadays.
It is easy to generate and print them.
They also have the following drawbacks:
In case of loss, theft or paper degrading, the user will never be able to access the address where their funds are. If you choose this method, ensure you have a safe deposit box or another secure storage method for the paper wallet.
Destruction can also occur in case of flooding and fire, two major points of failure.
The private key must be imported to software at some time to move the bitcoin, unlike hardware wallets.
When withdrawing part of your funds, you risk losing the remaining balance because of the way Bitcoin treats change in transactions.
Paper wallets are easy to retrieve, and you can obtain and store your private keys in a matter of minutes if you need quick and straightforward protection for your bitcoin asset.
However, they have been replaced by more practical and secure methods like hardware wallets that still work offline. Like paper wallets, they are very safe but do not suffer from risks like potential paper document destruction.
Paper wallet storage should probably be the main concern for its users, as paper is fragile, perishable and easy to lose. Therefore, it should be maintained with extreme care in safe, fireproof and waterproof boxes or third-party custodial deposit boxes.
You also need to protect your paper wallet from being lost or stolen, and it is recommended that you make at least two copies and store them securely — certainly not online. You should also consider laminating your paper wallet. When doing so, ensure it is done safely and that your private keys are not exposed to malicious actors.
Before printing out your private keys, you should figure out anything that might go wrong with your machine and anticipate the problem. For instance, paper jams, ink spots or a poorly aligned printer head can all lead to issues when creating your paper wallet.
It’s best to secure the creation of your paper wallet with a well-functioning printer and on a robust piece of paper, as paper deterioration is the main reason people refrain from using this type of storage. Also, do not print on a public or work computer and clear your print queue afterward. You can print something else afterward to ensure the print queue is actually cleared.
While paper wallets used to be a feasible solution for early bitcoin users who wanted to store their assets safely, at present there are more secure and practical methods like hardware wallets that remove the inefficiencies of paper wallets.
People are still using them to try the method out and temporarily store bitcoin until they find a more suitable solution. More precautions are required when using online tools to transfer or store data online. If you must use a paper wallet, it is recommended that you follow this article’s guidelines to stay safer.
After you receive bitcoin, you’ll need to store it in a secure digital wallet. This guide helps you understand what a wallet is and how there are different wallets to suit your needs.
A wallet is where you typically store your bitcoin after purchase, just like a physical wallet is used to keep your cash and cards.
Once you understand bitcoin and are ready to buy it, earn it or receive it as payment in exchange for goods and services, you should set up a wallet so that your counterpart has a digital address to send the bitcoin to.
Your wallet must also be secure and robust for storing your bitcoin. Nowadays, there are plenty of digital wallets to choose from and this guide offers comprehensive information to help you make the right choice.
Wallets can be hardware-based or software-based, can be downloaded on a mobile device, on a computer desktop or stored on paper by printing a QR code that enables access to the private keys.
WHAT IS A BITCOIN WALLET
A bitcoin wallet is an electronic device that allows you to send, receive and access your funds, similar to how a traditional wallet stores your banknotes or coins. In contrast with a physical wallet, a bitcoin wallet does not store actual coins but the private key — cryptographic data — that proves ownership and gives access to the actual money that is held on the blockchain.
Losing the private key or having it stolen is a Bitcoiner’s worst nightmare because it means the funds are lost. This is why securing this cryptographic data is the first thing you need to do when you acquire or receive bitcoin. Your private key could also be lost through hacking, phishing, computer malfunctions or the loss of the device itself.
In light of what happened to Celsius, Voyager, Three Arrows Capital and FTX in 2022, when they lost all their customers’ bitcoin through poor business practices, leading to their bankruptcies, the case for self-custody could not be stronger. While these bankruptcies were a difficult pill to swallow for the cryptocurrency industry, they were not Bitcoiners’ first rodeo with bankrupt exchanges, for the Mt. Gox hack in 2014 led to the initial movement of “not your keys, not your coins,” which has continued to this day.
Bitcoiners often refer to themselves as sovereign individuals. To be a sovereign individual, you must take self-custody of your BTC. To do this, you must learn about wallets.
WHY USE A BITCOIN WALLET
“Not your keys, not your coins” is a powerful Bitcoin mantra, meaning if your wallet doesn’t give you exclusive access to your private keys, you don’t actually own bitcoin. Instead, a third party — like an exchange — will hold it for you just like a bank keeps custody of your money.
Bitcoin was created to offer an alternative to the banking system so your wallet will give you financial sovereignty without intermediaries, protection from rehypothecation and the ability to store your wealth safely.
Bitcoin teaches you to take personal responsibility for your money, resulting in you storing your BTC safely and spending it wisely. One of the first things you must learn while exploring this path is how wallets work.
HOW DO WALLETS WORK
The Bitcoin timechain — also known as a blockchain — is a shared public ledger where all bitcoin value transfers are conducted through bitcoin wallets. The wallet’s private key is your go-ahead to use your coins, the authorization and verification that you are the rightful owner of the bitcoin in your wallet. It’s like the password that allows you to enter your online banking.
Private keys are 256 digits long, making them impractical for storing, transacting and securing your money. This is why they are protected in a bitcoin wallet that will automatically activate them for transacting, in pair with a public key.
When you create your bitcoin wallet, a seed or recovery phrase is automatically generated to retrieve your funds in case you lose access to your private key. A seed, mnemonic or recovery phrase is a succession of 12 or 24 words that will be used to generate any Bitcoin key you need to send and receive bitcoin.
Such wallet setup is homogeneous across the board, but different wallets exist to satisfy various requirements and preferences.
There are many types of bitcoin wallets, depending on your requirements. You should be aware that they all present some level of risk — in particular custodial wallets that third parties control. We recommended that you follow the guidance below to avoid costly mistakes and risk losing your funds:
Don’t use a wallet that doesn’t give you recovery data.
Don’t use a paper wallet unless you’re an advanced user and recognize the risks involved.
Large amounts of bitcoin should preferably be stored in multisig wallets.
Remember to set up recovery instructions for your heirs.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF WALLETS
Mobile wallets are apps like Bitcoin Wallet and BlueWallet. They are convenient portable tools providing a QR code for quick face-to-face transactions. Some even use near-field communication (NFC), allowing users to tap their phones against the merchant terminal without providing ID verification.
They come with significant risks as they are the least secure, given how easy it is to lose your mobile device. You can still restore your wallet on a new phone if you hold the private keys; however, due to their online reliance, you can lose access due to hacks that can lead to losing your funds. For this reason, they are best recommended for small transactions and are not suitable for storing large amounts of bitcoin.
Using two-factor authentication (2FA) for extra security, preferably an authenticator app like Google Authenticator, makes the wallet less vulnerable to hacks or sim-swap attacks.
Web-based wallets are usually exchange-based wallets like BitGo or Blockchain.com that let you store your bitcoin and make transactions. They are considered hot wallets because they are online websites that need an active internet connection.
Users’ private keys are stored on the provider’s server, which makes them highly vulnerable to hacks or confiscation if something goes wrong with the exchange. It is highly recommended to avoid storing the majority of your bitcoin in a hot wallet.
Desktop wallets, like Atomic Wallet and Electrum — one of the original bitcoin web wallets, around since 2011 — are open-source programs that can be downloaded on your computer and store your private keys on your hard drive.
While they are generally more secure than mobile or web wallets because you aren’t trusting third parties to hold your coins, they are still vulnerable to hacks through an internet connection.
Cold Storage wallets
Cold storage wallets are any form of wallet that live on a device that is not connected to the internet. Offline connection protects the wallet from any form of internet-based attack.
Hardware wallets and paper wallets are your typical cold storage solutions. There’s also deep cold storage, which is any cold storage wallet buried deep in the ground, secured in a vault or any such method so as to ensure your bitcoin is considerably more inconvenient to access than it otherwise would be.
Hardware wallets are physical devices, like USB drives, that store your private keys offline. They are not connected to the web and are usually considered very secure since computer viruses or online hacks cannot attack them.
Setting them up requires some technical skills, but the manufacturer usually provides a step-by-step guide that is easy to follow. Try the wallet with little money first to gain experience and feel more secure running a transaction. Only load it with bitcoin once you are confident enough to transfer significant money.
Always make sure you’re purchasing the hardware wallet from an original manufacturer like Ledger, Trezor or COLDCARD, as fake wallets retrieved in marketplaces like Amazon or eBay will steal your bitcoin.
Paper wallets are also considered cold storage, requiring you to store your private keys offline on a piece of paper that you print out as a QR code. These can be quickly scanned to add the keys to a software wallet to make a transaction.
They are rarely used nowadays due to the abundance of alternatives, but they are very secure since no hacker can access and steal the passwords. They are also very private since there can’t be any dissemination of personal data on the internet.
A multisig wallet will require more than one private key to sign and authorize a bitcoin transaction, adding an extra level of security. It means that a number of people, generally two out of three (or three out of five), must approve a transaction limiting the chances that a hack or theft happens, which single-signature wallets are more vulnerable to experience.
The transaction is finalized once the required signatures approve it. There’s no hierarchical order among the signatures required; only the number of signatures per setup is needed.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A WALLET
Bitcoin-only Wallet or Multicurrency Wallet
Every cryptocurrency wallet will let you store bitcoin, but only some bitcoin wallets will let you store cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin. If you are focused on sound money with no distractions from other cryptocurrencies, consider the options we provide here and just focus on a secure bitcoin-only wallet that grants you control over your private keys.
Research Wallet’s Reputation
Bitcoin Magazine endeavours to provide you with tutoring on the most trusted and reliable bitcoin wallets in circulation; however, plenty of material on the internet offers you a clear understanding of the different wallets and their reputation. Software engineer and Bitcoin advocate Jameson Lopp, for example — who is also CTO and co-founder of leading self-custody solution Casa — provides some of the most reliable and comprehensive educational material related to Bitcoin on his personal website.
Research Wallet Backup Options
It can never be stressed enough that backing up your wallet should be a priority. The fundamental recovery option you have is to back up your private keys securely by writing down and storing your wallet seed phrase in a safe physical location that you remember.
Never do this online, not even on the cloud or your computer, where your funds are always at risk that hackers could steal them.
Research Key Management
Private key management is an essential component of your wallet; think of how your bank account is protected and you’ll get the idea. Learn if your private key has an automatic cloud backup or a manual one; if your wallet lets you store your keys externally or on the same device as the wallet application; if multiple independent keys manage it.
Understand the purpose of your wallet
Consider what’s most important to you when choosing your wallet:
Convenience: do you need a wallet for daily transactions, for mobile use or trading?
Security: this should always be your priority, regardless of a type of wallet.
Anonymity: some wallets are more privacy-focused than others. Wasabi Wallet & Joinmarket offer high levels of privacy.
Long-term investing: A wallet to store bitcoin as a long-term investment.
Gifting: a wallet like Opendime which is suitable for giving bitcoin as a gift without revealing the private key.
HOW TO SET UP A WALLET
Setting up a bitcoin wallet is easier than it sounds and most devices are user-friendly and suitable for beginners. In most cases, it’s easy to follow the device’s instructions as you go through the process. However, below you can find the typical procedure of setting up a wallet:
Download and install the software, mobile or desktop wallet from the provider’s website only. You’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set up a hardware wallet.
Use the device’s instructions; they’re usually easy to follow. Once you download the app or the software, you’re typically ready to use it.
Secure your private key by writing down your recovery phrase, so that you can restore your wallet should you ever need to do so;
Transfer only a small amount of bitcoin first to get some wallet practice.
Bitcoin wallets are a popular way to store and use your bitcoin. However, like all digital devices, they are susceptible to security risks. Some of the most common security risks associated with bitcoin wallets include the following:
Theft: If someone gains access to your wallet, they can steal your bitcoin. So keep your wallet(s) in a secure and safe place at all times.
Coercion: you may be physically coerced to hand over your stack (this is called a $5 wrench attack), which may be avoided with multisig and cold storage solutions.
Hacking: bitcoin wallets can be hacked, which could result in the theft of your bitcoin. Hacking can occur in different ways, including phishing and brute force attacks.
Malware: Bitcoin wallets can be infected with malware, which are programmed to steal your bitcoin. So ensure your Operating System is clean and virus free.
The most secure way to store your bitcoin is to use a hardware wallet in conjunction with a multisig solution. This is the approach you should take for the majority of your bitcoin or those that you intend to HODL for a long duration.
How to make your wallet more secure
When a bank holds your money on your behalf, the bank is responsible for protecting it so you don’t need to be concerned about the threat of a robbery, fire, flooding or any form of loss.
When you own bitcoin and you take personal responsibility for safeguarding it, you become your own bank and you inherit the same concerns that any bank manager or bank security professional would have. The onus falls on you, and you alone, to protect your wealth.
Luckily, there are many options available to us in the form of wallets which help us secure our investment. Some wallets safeguard your bitcoin more than others, so it’s essential to do your research before choosing one. Here are further measures you can take to make your wallet more secure.
Store your seed phrase safely
If you want to keep your seed phrase safe, it’s essential to store it in a secure place. You can take a few simple steps for more peace of mind: you can keep it on a piece of paper, in a cryptographically secure safe or on a metal plate like the ones provided by Coldbit or Blockplate.
Keep it hidden from others, and don’t tell anyone your seed phrase. Split the seed phrase in two for further protection and keep them separate. Be creative with your Bitcoin security, as long as you remember where and how to recover your funds!
Add 25th word
When setting up your wallet, the system recommends you safely store your seed phrase, which is typically a series of 24 words. Some wallets allow an additional phrase, the purpose of which is to further encrypt your root seed. If your 24 words are compromised, the person holding those words will unknowingly need the 25th word in order to access your root keys. This solution buys you the time to swap wallets, should you need to.
Use a multisig system
Using a multisig system is one of the best safeguards for your bitcoin. There are two types of multisig solutions: hosted — like Casa and Unchained, that hold the private keys for you — and unhosted where you inherit full control, and each version has their advantages and disadvantages.
A decoy passphrase is a system used to protect password databases, allowing hackers to believe they have cracked the file, only to be given valid credentials which do not provide access to the private keys. Cybercriminals will still be able to crack that file; however, the passwords they will get back are fake or decoy passwords.
Use more than one wallet
Using more than one wallet and spreading your funds across them may reduce the chances of losing all your funds from one point of failure. Make sure you apply all of the security measures discussed above to all of your devices to strengthen their accessibility.
Access from a secure computer
Reduce your computer’s chances of being hacked and your funds stolen by using a device only dedicated to bitcoin management. It is worth it, as overused computers are more liable to pick up malware, particularly those with weak OS security.
Use in conjunction with a full node
Using your wallet with a full node represents the ultimate protection measure you could take to secure your funds. Moreover, running a full node strengthens the network, benefiting all Bitcoin users.
Using a node protects you against fraudulent activities: no rule breaker can affect your funds since you’re using a decentralized tool that allows you to act in a trustless environment. Make sure your lightweight wallet allows you to configure how to connect to your own full node.
Nobody likes to think about leaving this world or being incapable of managing their money one day; however, you may have wondered what happens to your bitcoin when you die? If you’re managing your own Bitcoin keys, you’ll need to plan how to pass them on to your heirs.
Owning your own keys and being your own bank already requires a significant level of responsibility and thinking about your succession too might be discouraging for some. The first thing you should do is talk to your solicitor and create a will, so that the executor can pass down the knowledge of what you intend to do with your BTC.
There are typically two ways of dealing with the inheritance of your bitcoin, although they both require some legal assistance for peace of mind:
Manual method: You’re likely the knowledgeable person on this subject matter, so in addition to the private keys, you’ll need to pass on to your heirs the instructions explaining what to do with the private keys. The keys should be kept with trusted family members, a legal team or preferably a combination of both. It’s advisable to not provide full access to any one party, to ensure no party ever has complete control or premature control.
Paid for service: Service providers like Casa, can work with you to create an inheritance plan that allows your heirs to access your bitcoin at the right time, with the help of a legal and technical team that can unlock the funds for your beneficiaries.
You can also find a lot of useful tips on planning inheritance processes in a book called “Crypto Asset Inheritance Planning,” written by American attorney and entrepreneur Pamela Morgan, with the technical supervision of Bitcoin educator Andreas Antonopoulos.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where can I buy a hardware wallet?
Always buy your bitcoin wallet from the most secure source, which is the device manufacturer or the official seller. Never buy from marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, as the device may be compromised — even if it appears new — and your funds may be stolen. It’s always best to spend more and secure your funds than regret not going the safe way to acquire a brand new wallet.
What is the best Bitcoin wallet for international people?
Most bitcoin wallets are available worldwide because they are open-source and decentralized devices. Wallets like Electrum, Blockstream Green or the hardware types are available to download or buy from most countries; therefore, picking the best international wallet means choosing the most suitable device for your needs.
How much does a Bitcoin wallet cost?
Most mobile or web wallets are free. However, if you want to invest in cold storage, the cost can range from $60 for a Ledger Nano S to over $200 for the extra secure Trezor Model T.
How do I set up a bitcoin wallet with no ID?
Most bitcoin wallets do not require ID verification. When buying a hardware wallet, you must provide details to receive the device. It is recommended to use creative ways to circumvent dispatch of your physical address or even your name, email and telephone number.
For example, the least you can do is provide a generic delivery address of a store near you (or not) that could receive the wallet as a service. You can even alter your name slightly, but the store may ask for proof of identity, so keep that in mind.
How long would it take to crack a Bitcoin wallet?
The good news is that if you use all the mentioned measures, it will be nearly impossible to crack your bitcoin wallet. If you use a web or mobile wallet in what’s called hot storage, your funds are at risk. If you’re using hot storage, make sure you use the most robust password possible.
It’s been calculated that a four-digit pin code takes as little as five milliseconds to crack, while the longer your password is, the better. Twelve random letters would take two centuries to crack with today’s technology.
Can law enforcement seize a bitcoin wallet?
Yes, they can. Though it depends on the type of wallet and the security precautions taken.
Hot wallets or wallets hosted by centralized service providers are the highest risk, as law enforcement agencies could easily crack a bitcoin hot wallet or persuade a centralized service provider to provide access to the private keys to freeze — or seize — your bitcoin.
A cold wallet device could be seized by authorities but, unless you provide them with the private keys, the password and recovery seed, that device is useless and they won’t have your bitcoin.
A multisig wallet, instead, is again your best protection against seizure because, even under coercion, you would not be able to provide the full set of keys to access your bitcoin. This is especially true if your keys are kept in separate locations or held by different entities.
A wallet password can be retrieved or reset. It’s the private key you must be careful to keep secure at all times, as if you forget it or lose access to it, you may lose your funds.
Your wealth is at stake if you don’t protect your bitcoin and robust, secure and non-custodial wallets are the way to do it.
Generally, small amounts of bitcoin can be stored anywhere if you’re looking to trade or spend them. However, for more considerable amounts, multisig wallets in cold storage, used with a full personal node is the ultimate level of protection you can provide to your bitcoin.
Bitcoin wallets have been in the spotlight recently with governments, like the EU, trying to ban them or at least limit their privacy and autonomy from third parties. While Bitcoin cannot be banned or censored, its decentralization and sovereignty could be compromised by persecutory activities enacted by authorities.
With everything that’s been happening in the cryptocurrency industry for years, from a regulation standpoint to criminal activities, exchange hacks and so forth, Bitcoin is widening the gap with “crypto” and finding its own ethical stance supported by companies that are only involved with its monetary soundness.
It’s never been more important to take personal responsibility and custody of your bitcoin seriously, and learning how to secure it is that little extra effort that needs to be made to reduce the risk of parting from the most powerful asset you’ve ever held.
A multisig wallet is a special type of wallet for securely storing your Bitcoin. 3-5 signatures are typically required to access the stored Bitcoin.
What is a MultiSig wallet?
A multisig wallet is a wallet that provides users with extra security because it requires multiple unique signatures (hence multi-signature) to authorize and execute a transaction. A traditional — or single-sig — Bitcoin wallet contains a Bitcoin address, each with one associated private key that grants the keyholder complete control over the funds.
With bitcoin multisignature addresses, you can have a Bitcoin address with three or more associated private keys, such that you need any two of them to spend the funds. A wallet’s private key grants access to a user’s funds. It proves ownership of your bitcoin and is necessary to execute transactions in combination with a public key. If a private key is lost, all funds are lost, and there is no way to recover them. Spreading access to a wallet across multiple keys is a safer measure.
Multisig is not native to Bitcoin. The concept has been used in the banking sector for years and previous to that it had been used for thousands of years to protect the security of crypts holding the precious relics of saints. The superior of a monastery would give monks only partial keys for gaining access to the precious relics. Thus, no single monk could gain access to and possibly steal the relics.
Single-key vs Multisig
Most Bitcoin wallets use a single signature setup. This type of setup only requires one signature to sign a transaction. Single-key addresses are easier to manage as access to funds is faster. Still, they also represent a single point of failure increasing risks for your security since hackers and malicious actors could more easily access them.
Single-key wallets are good options for small and faster transactions — like face-to-face payments — but are not recommended for individuals and businesses who need to store considerable amounts of bitcoin. Like with cash, if you lose access to your single-key wallet, your funds are gone and there’s nothing you can do to recover them.
A multisig wallet, on the other hand, is configured in a way that requires a combination of keys from different sources to be operational — for example, 2-of-3, meaning that transactions can only be executed if at least 2 keys out of 3 are used.
Different variations exist, with a combination of signatures required to access funds and execute transactions. Some solutions demand that all the private keys are used to create the signature and authorize a transaction for maximum security.
There is an increasing practice among businesses to store their bitcoin as a reserve asset in multisig wallets, as solely relying on one person to preserve the private key could turn out to be a regrettable mistake for the security of the funds. By using a multisig wallet, users can prevent the problems caused by the loss or theft of a private key. So even if one of the keys is compromised, the funds are still safe.
Multiple signatures required to authorize a transaction make it more difficult for someone to steal your bitcoin since they would need access to all of your private keys to get hold of your funds.
Imagine any individual or business entity creating a 2-of-3 multisig address and storing each private key in a different physical place and device, like a mobile phone, a laptop and a tablet. If one of the locations is accessed by malicious actors, the device located there is stolen, and even if the wallet is compromised, the attackers won’t be able to spend the funds using only that one key they found.
In the same way, phishing and malware attacks are more easily prevented because the attackers can’t do much with one single key at their disposal.
Besides malicious attacks of any nature, users can still access their bitcoin using their other 2 keys if they lose their private key. Multisig wallets are indeed a passport to more peace of mind with your funds.
How does a multisig wallet work?
The process to initiate a transaction with a multisig wallet follows the same steps regardless of the type of solution chosen. The user will input the transaction’s details in the wallet and enter their private key to sign it. The transaction will be pending and only finalized — and the funds sent to the correct address — once all the required keys are submitted.
Step 1: Connect the hardware device to an existing wallet or create a new one;
Step 2: Wait for the wallet to recognize the hardware device and sign;
Connect a second hardware and proceed as above;
Connect the third wallet and sign as with the previous devices.
Step 3: To execute a transaction you will only need two of the 3 setup wallets above.
There’s no hierarchy in the private keys, only the number required to sign the transaction in no particular order matters. There is no expiration date in multisig transactions, which will remain pending until all the required keys are provided.
Types of multi-signature wallets
Depending on the number of private keys and signatures required to authorize a transaction, different types of multisig wallets can serve the purpose, which are highlighted below.
1-of-2 Signatures: multisig wallets can be used to share funds among multiple users, with each party able to access the funds without needing another party to authorize the transaction.
2-of-3 Signatures: when 2 out of 3 private keys are needed to authorize transactions, the wallet’s security is enhanced. This type of multisig wallet is frequently used by cryptocurrency exchanges to secure their hot wallets. They usually keep one private key online and one offline, with a security company storing the third one.
3-of-5 Signatures: this type of custody requires two keys — ideally geographically separated — to be used to access funds and authorize a transaction, with a third party usually being a security company’s key that is also necessary to access the funds.
Collaborative Custody vs Self Custody: a collaborative custody solution is used when a separate company keeps custody of your funds while leaving you control over your private keys. However, they also possess a different private key to access the funds for enhanced security. A self custody solution that allows you to control all of your private keys, where you can spread the private keys across different devices and locations as you see fit.
Advantages of Multisig Wallets
Besides regular tips on how to protect your money — any money — online, you should use more precaution when it comes to bitcoin because malicious actors will exploit any vulnerability in your system to get hold of it. .
Firstly, multisig solutions prevent a single point of failure from occurring so that if you lose your private key, you won’t lose your funds because you rely on a safe backup of separate private keys stored on different devices and locations for easy access.
Multisig wallets ensure you are more protected from cyber-attacks, making it much harder for malicious actors to break your security that relies on multiple safety points, making them nearly impossible to compromise.
When using a multisig wallet, you’re basically using an arbitrator — a trustless escrow — to finalize transactions. Although this may sound like having an intermediary, in contrast with Bitcoin’s true ethos, there are a few differences to consider.
Firstly, this would be a voluntary choice that you make only by personally picking the escrow, which can be changed every time.
Secondly, the trust in the intermediary can be minimal as the chosen security entity cannot access your funds or get hold of them without your private key activation.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Multiple signatures act as the typical 2FA we use to access different services. Unless at least another signature authorizes the transaction, the funds cannot be accessed and spent. This solution is also recognized as a 2-of-2 multisig protocol, with the private keys kept on two different devices.
Co-operation between two parties
Multisig solutions are ideal for businesses because different individuals or groups can view balances, but to access and transfer the funds, they’ll need at least two sources — two private keys — to authorize the transactions.
Disadvantages of Multisig Wallets
Although multisig wallets represent an improved solution to security issues, they could be better. They have risks and limitations, including a gray area in the parties’ legal responsibility in case something goes wrong.
Due to the reliance on multiple parties to authorize a transaction, one of the multisig wallets’ crucial drawbacks is low transaction speed. Such an issue is easily overcome if a user keeps the funds needed for quick transactions in faster solutions like single-key hot wallets and leaves most of the bitcoin holdings that must be better protected in multisig wallets.
Although there is plenty of educational material online to help you acquire the right skills for a smooth multisig experience, many people are intimidated by the technical knowledge required to configure a multisig solution. Bitcoin custodial companies that offer multisig wallets are usually very proactive in helping their customers set up their solutions quickly and effectively.
Fund Recovery and Custodial
Recovery of funds in multisig wallets might be tedious and intimidating for non-techie bitcoiners, as it requires the import of each recovery phrase on each different device, which may represent a challenge to even the most technically skilled users. However, this shouldn’t discourage people from using multisig as the prospect of losing their funds more easily from a single-key solution is more daunting.
While multisig is a great way to protect your bitcoin and provides a greater sense of security and peace of mind, it could be better. You should understand bitcoin and wallets thoroughly before taking this next step.
If you get past the inconvenience of setting up a multisig wallet and the technical learning required, multisig can help you achieve greater peace of mind with your bitcoin by adding an extra layer of security to your holdings.
With an overall figure of roughly 4 million bitcoin forever lost to hacks, malicious attacks and poor personal maintenance, it is more important than ever to protect your funds with the proper tools and knowledge. Despite a few disadvantages, multisig wallets offer reasonable solutions to businesses and individuals by requiring more than one signature to access and transfer funds.
The technology behind multisig has improved massively since its early usage and will likely see an increased application in the future, especially considering that risks of hacks and loss of funds are some of the issues that discourage people from investing in bitcoin. With better security, more adoption is likely to follow.
Whether or not you should be using multisig solutions depends on your needs and preferences. If a little inconvenience, slow transactions and technical requirements put you off, then a multisig wallet might not suit you. However, individuals, groups, companies and institutions that possess funds they can’t afford to lose, should use multisig without hesitation for advanced security.
Bitcoin’s past performance can help you understand where its value is heading. Here’s bitcoin’s price history delineated since its inception.
How many times has bitcoin been declared dead? At least 463 times. And it’s never been because of its monetary system failing or its technical operation breaking down, but because of its price crashing.
Some may argue that those two things — tech development and price actions — are inherently connected, but that’s not the case.
Price swings in bitcoin are mainly driven by its own halving cycles as well as macroeconomic events. Since it roared into life from humble beginnings, bitcoin has had a turbulent history. Its infamous volatility has resulted in multiple appreciations of 1,000% in value, only to later drop by as much as 80% or even 90% — such as in 2014.
Every single time, though, it has bounced back, recovered its previous highs and gone on to set new ones. This resilience has proven some of the most seasoned investors wrong and won new supporters along the way.
In this article, we take you through bitcoin’s price history in detail, year after year, around the critical events that shaped it as an innovative monetary system.
Bitcoin was created in 2008 to challenge the existing system of centralized, credit-based money issued by bureaucrats and unstable banks. By trusting code instead of human vulnerabilities, bitcoin offered a way out of that debacle.
At first the new invention was nothing more than an experiment, but those who read the white paper and were knowledgeable of cryptography, money and finance, could already see it turning into something much bigger than a simple cryptographic toy.
For the first year, bitcoin didn’t have a market price; it had no premine or any rounds of investment from big venture capital firms. Something changed in 2010 when it started to be traded for goods and services which would set it on the path toward today’s innovative and alternative currency system — a journey from $0 in 2009 to $68,000 in only 13 years.
Next, we’ll explore how bitcoin grew from a tech plaything with lofty ambitions to a bona fide monetary asset that’s continuing to deliver on its promise.
January 2009-December 2013
Bitcoin’s proof-of-concept was emphasized in the white paper published on October 31, 2008, by Satoshi Nakamoto. All through 2009, anyone could join the network by mining blocks of Bitcoin with their computers’ CPUs without much effort. All things considered, the price was still $0.
Price Range $0-$.0009
Satoshi mined the genesis block with the famous text note and headline from the London Times, “Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks” — a clear reference to the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
The block reward was 50 bitcoin and people were mining thousands of bitcoin every day. The New Liberty Standard Exchange recorded the first exchange of bitcoin for dollars in late 2009, though people were mostly trading bitcoin over the BitcoinTalk forum.
The European sovereign debt crisis began in November when Greece revealed that its budget deficit was nearly double the prior estimates. While this event was too early in Bitcoin’s history to affect the price in any meaningful way, indebted sovereigns would continue to be a worry in the legacy monetary system against which bitcoin compared itself.
On October 12th, 2009 a member of the BitcoinTalk forum traded 5050 BTC for a sum of $5.02 via Paypal, which implies a price of $0.00099 per coin and one of the lowest prices per BTC ever recorded. This transaction kicked off a series of OTC purchases in the succeeding months.
2010: Bitcoin Begins Trading
Price Range $.00099-$0.4
On the 20th of February, a person on reddit using the username theymos claims to have sold 160 BTC for $.003, which would make it the lowest ever price recorded.
On May 22, Laszlo Hanyecz bought two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin which is held as an iconic first exchange of bitcoin for a real-world product; Bitcoin Pizza Day was born.
The first large-scale bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, made its appearance on July 18.
In August, the most significant vulnerability in the history of the Bitcoin network was exploited when an attacker managed to spend billions of bitcoin they did not own. The bug was spotted and fixed within hours, and miners had to fork the network and release a new, updated Bitcoin protocol without the malicious transaction included.
2011: Dollar Parity
Price Range $0.4-$4.70
Bitcoin achieved a milestone in February when it reached parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time. On April 26, 2011, Satoshi Nakamoto sent his final email to fellow developers stating he had “moved on to other projects” — and was never heard from again.
Bitcoin payment processor BitPay was founded in May to allow companies to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. By June, the price of one bitcoin had reached $30 but slowly dropped back to the $2-$4 range that it sustained for the rest of the year.
Nonprofits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and WikiLeaks began taking bitcoin in donations, the latter turning to bitcoin after PayPal had frozen WikiLeaks’ accounts in December 2010.
In June of 2011, Mt. Gox experienced its first hack in which hackers managed to access the company auditors’ computer and change the price of bitcoin to 1 cent.
2012: European Debt Crisis
Price Range: $4-$13.50
The beginning of 2012 was still marked by the European sovereign debt crisis, with some member states becoming highly dependent on the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to service their debts. Cyprus was particularly hard hit, with incremental demand for bitcoin coming from the areas most affected by the Cypriot financial crisis.
Coinbase was founded in June 2012, offering a new way to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin spent the remainder of the year consolidating, and in November it went through its first Halving. The price at the end of the year was $13.50.
2013: The Silk Road Seizure
Price Range: $13-$755
Bitcoin experienced its first post-halving bull run. The year started with a price of just above $13, rallying to $26 over the course of a month. The rally continued in April and quickly rose to $268, before crashing 80% to $51 from the 10th to the 13th of the same month.
By December, it had spiked to a new all-time high of $1,163, rising 840% in 8 weeks and then fell back to $687 only days later. In December, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) prohibited Chinese financial institutions from using bitcoin, resulting in a drop to just above $700. It wouldn’t be the last time China “banned” bitcoin.
January 2014-December 2017
This period is identified by the advent of altcoins and the injection of big funds into the cryptocurrency market, components of the ICO mania of 2017. Bitcoin went from just over $800 in 2014 to trading at close to $20,000 in 2017.
With big money came greater attention from the media and financial institutions, and governments started to observe Bitcoin and its phenomena more closely — sometimes putting pressure on the market through strict regulations, especially in China.
2014: Mt. Gox Is Hacked
Price Range: $767-$321
Bitcoin’s infamous volatility was very high in 2014. The year started with a price recovery to above $1,000, but by the end of February, it had already retraced back to under $600 with a flash crash down to $111 (a 90% drop from its $1,000 high!) due to troubles at Mt. Gox. — the hack involved user funds of around 750,000 bitcoin. The exchange had to file for bankruptcy following the episode.
The PBOC instructed domestic lenders to close the accounts of Chinese bitcoin exchanges by April 15.
Bitcoin spent the turbulent rest of the year recovering and crashing shortly thereafter and closed 2014 at just over $300.
In December, the first Bitcoin hard fork, Bitcoin XT, was released by Mike Hearn, who aimed to increase maximum transactions per second from 7 to 24. Such an increase meant the block size had to be expanded from one megabyte to eight megabytes.
2015: The Beginning Of The Blocksize Wars
Price Range: $314-$431
On January 4, Bitstamp suffered a serious security breach, losing approximately 19,000 BTC, with a market value of about $5.1m at the time.
Bitcoin started the new year at $314 and kept on relatively quiet compared to 2014, with little volatility and more consolidation. Ethereum was launched on July 30, and its platform triggered the creation of thousands of new cryptocurrencies eager to compete with Bitcoin in the years to come.
In September, the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) defined bitcoin as a commodity. In contrast, the EU decided against imposing value added tax (VAT) on crypto transactions in October. This effectively defined bitcoin as a currency.
2016: Price Recovery
Price Range: $434-$966
The second Bitcoin Halving occurred on July 9, and throughout the year the price of bitcoin was relatively stable, trading between $350 and $700 in the summer months, only to hit $966 at the end of the year.
2016 was marked by the hack of the bitcoin exchange Bitfinex in August, which resulted in nearly 120,000 BTC stolen from users.
2017: Crypto and ICO Mania
Price Range: $998-$14,245
Like 2013, the year that followed the first Bitcoin Halving, 2017 was also historic for bitcoin. In the beginning of the year, the price hovered around $1,000, broke $2,000 in mid-May and skyrocketed to $19,892 on December 15, recording a 20x rise in less than 12 months.
The chart above refers to bitcoin’s dominance in the cryptocurrency market. With the creation of thousands of new cryptocurrencies, and the explosion of the ICO mania, bitcoin’s dominance fell dramatically, as investor funds and gambling money made their way from bitcoin into the altcoin markets.
The ICO mania signaled that venture capital firms had arrived and thousands of crypto projects began to get funding, turning the crypto market into a casino of sorts. Incidentally, the misinformation and FUD around Bitcoin increased around this time.
On August 2, a major bitcoin exchange, Bitfinex, was hacked and nearly 120,000 BTC (around $60m at the time) was stolen by hackers. The bitcoin price immediately tumbled 14% to $214 in a period of just 30 minutes, before it rebounded upwards the very same day — a typical flash crash.
In August, a major upgrade — SegWit — was implemented on the Bitcoin network, which brought some relief to Bitcoin’s scalability issue and enabled the implementation of the Lightning Network.
After breaking $5,000 in the beginning of September, news that China wanted to crack down on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies crashed the price down to the $3,600 range. By October, the cryptocurrency had already recovered to $5,000, and the following epic surge to $20,000 awaited.
Bitcoin futures contracts were first introduced in December, trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
2017 was the year everyone took notice of bitcoin, from institutional and retail investors to governments and economists. They all started their own battle to back or oppose Bitcoin.
January 2018-November 2021
After the previous era of failed ICOs, the altcoin market tried other ways to raise capital, including STOs (“security token offering”) and IEOs (“initial exchange offering”) — all with poor results. In the meantime, Bitcoin was preparing for a series of technological advances that would benefit its scalability and security, culminating in the Taproot implementation in November 2021.
This was the Covid era, when the world and its economy shut down for nearly two years, bringing dramatic consequences to financial markets and bitcoin. Yet, this was also the era when bitcoin hit the current all-time high of over $69,000 — against all odds.
2018: Bear Territory
Price Range: $14,093-$3,809
After the bullish action at the end of 2017, bitcoin spent 2018 in bear territory, and by the end of the first quarter, its price had already retraced almost 50% from January’s value.
In January, Chinese authorities ordered the closing of mining operations. The notice called for an “orderly exit” without setting a deadline.
For most of the year, bitcoin traded within the $6,000 and $8,000 range, hitting a bottom of $3,250 in December and closing the year at just over $3,700, down 73% from the beginning of the year.
2019: Leaving The Bear Behind
Price Range: $3,692-$7,240
Bitcoin mainly moved sideways during 2019, with a significant spike in June when positive news about institutional investors and wider adoption of cryptocurrencies converged and triggered a positive move upwards.
Bakkt, the long awaited and much hyped futures contracts was released on the 22nd of September.
For the rest of the year, bitcoin price hovered around the $7,000 mark, ending 2019 at just over $7,200.
2020: Covid Surge
Price Range: $7,194-$28,841
2020 will be remembered as the year of Covid, which affected many aspects of life, including financial markets and bitcoin. When the deadly flu was declared a pandemic in March 2020, markets went into significant turmoil, crashing to price levels that had not been seen since the 2008 economic crisis.
Bitcoin crashed to a low of $4,000 on March 17, as the world witnessed the events unfolding. In May, the third Halving in Bitcoin’s history occurred, and the price slowly recovered, pushing up to over $10,000 again.
MicroStrategy was the first publicly traded company to start accumulating bitcoin in its cash reserves. Micheal Saylor, who had once fiercely opposed Bitcoin, admitted that he did not understand Bitcoin at the time and he had now realized that bitcoin was the world’s only conceivable safe haven and sound money. The company went on to purchase in excess of 130,000 BTC and is showing no signs of stopping.
From the end of August, the series of positive news around bitcoin adoption started to push the price up, as well as the U.S. government’s attempts to help the economy recover by more money printing — bringing the amount of dollars in circulation from 15 to 19 trillion over just a few months. More money printing led many to believe that their dollars were no longer a safe haven, and they started looking at the sound money qualities that bitcoin could offer.
By the end of the year, bitcoin price was back to its previous ATH of $20,000 and surpassed it, closing on December 31 at over $29,000.
2021: From Hope To Despair
Price Range: $29,022-$47,191
After an exciting end to 2020, bitcoin started 2021 with great optimism and had a wild first quarter culminating with the first all-time high of the year in mid-April, at $64,594. Such a bullish movement was likely triggered by claims of continuous liquidity injection in the markets by the Federal Reserve, coupled with news that Elon Musk, Tesla and other businesses had started allocating bitcoin instead of USD in their treasuries. Tesla announced in February that it had acquired $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin — 10% of its treasury — for “more flexibility to further diversify and maximize returns on our cash.”
In May, a new China restriction hit Bitcoin, announcing that financial institutions and payment platforms were prohibited from transacting in cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, all the bitcoin mining plants had to close down. Bitcoin crashed to $32,450 on May 23 and to a new low of $29,970 on July 21. This China ban also had repercussions on the mining industry, with the hash rate dropping significantly in the following months, as miners relocated their ASICs primarily to Russia, Kazakhstan and North America.
In September, renewed optimism followed a series of events, including the hash rate recovery, the news that El Salvador had made bitcoin legal tender and the first futures-based Bitcoin ETF launching in October — which led to the second all-time high for the year at $68,789, on November 10, 2021.
Bitcoin closed out the year by retreating 20% from that all-time high. This decline in bitcoin’s price occurred in conjunction with broader market declines that were triggered by concerns over a new COVID-19 virus variant.
Imminent interest rate hikes, soaring inflation and announcements that the Fed would begin to reduce its bond purchases and slowly drain liquidity from financial markets, were all signs that the world economy was going into recession mode.
2022: Liquidity Is Drained and Insolvencies Begin
Price Range: $46,319-$16,537
The world’s economic and financial turmoil continued in 2022, made worse by a new war on Europe’s doorstep, the removal of Russia from global payment systems like Visa and SWIFT, rising interest rates (.75 basis points each month — totaling 4.25% by year-end), Bank of England bailout, rising inflation, gas and energy crisis and a general recession looming over most of the Western world.
Stricter regulations on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies called for by governments and regulators added extra FUD to the general mood, further distancing investors from riskier assets.
By January, bitcoin had dropped to $35,000 over the surging threat of an imminent Russia-Ukraine war, which promptly erupted at the end of February. By March, bitcoin had recovered to $47,459, but the global geopolitical and economic crisis caused a new and more durable crash down to the $20,000 range, a level that bitcoin kept for months as the economy tried to find relief.
Beginning in March, the Luna Foundation Guard bought bitcoin as a reserve asset intended to support the Terra Network’s algorithmic stablecoin, UST, in case of “volatile market conditions.” The company acquired 80,000 bitcoin in the process, worth nearly $3 billion at the time.
On May 7, there were early signs of a capital flight from UST as $85 million UST was swapped for $84.5 million USDC, causing UST to lose its peg to the dollar in the process. By the 14th, the Luna Foundation Guard had sold all but 313 of their 80,000 bitcoin in an unsuccessful attempt to defend the stablecoin peg. The bitcoin price was severely affected, dropping 44% between May 6 and May 18.
The fall of Terra caused contagion in the market, leading to the collapse of major CeFi firms Celsius, Voyager and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC). 3AC was unable to meet obligations toward its partners and creditors, and the default on its loans created a domino effect on all parties involved. FTX rescued these companies in an apparent show of strength.
Tesla sold 75% of its bitcoin holdings in Q2 after the fall in value in previous months.
Mining firm Core Scientific also began selling their bitcoin stack in June, bringing the number of BTC held from 9,618 BTC in April to only 24 at the end of the year. Core Scientific’s liquidity problems only emerged in October, and the company raised the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, listing among the reasons for its struggles the financial exposure to Celsius and its affiliates.
Another bitcoin miner, Argo Blockchain, also experienced financial troubles in October, failing to raise $27 million from a strategic investor and its stock losing over 41% of its value on Nasdaq.
In September, Ethereum differentiated itself further from Bitcoin by switching to proof-of-stake.
At first, November provided respite for the bitcoin price — until Coindesk published a revealing article on Almeda’s balance sheet and the collapse of FTX began. A few days later, Binance’s Chengpeng Zhao (CZ) ignited an exchange war by tweeting his intention to sell $2.1 billion USD equivalent in cash (BUSD and FTT), which triggered a 27% crash over the course of the following two days.
With rumors circulating wildly about Grayscale’s insolvency, Grayscale was forced to release a statement on the 18th declaring that their coins were safe with Coinbase. The markets remained on tenterhooks, and so on the 21st, bitcoin reached a new low of $15,477 as rumors of Genesis insolvency continued.
Bitcoin closed the year at $16,537, down 64% from 12 months earlier.
2023: Price Recovery
Price Range: $16,537 –
With the new year came some fresh optimism as investors began to believe the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases would slow down. The bitcoin price broke out on January 10, increasing 24% over the course of four days.
On January 21, Casey Rodomor launched Ordinals, which enabled on-chain Bitcoin native digital artifacts. The price increased 45% in January, closing out the month at $23,150 and showing signs of a strong recovery from a difficult bear market.
How much was bitcoin when it first came out?
Bitcoin didn’t have a price when it was first introduced into the world. For several years, there were no exchanges where users could trade it for fiat money and it was only possible to accumulate bitcoin through mining — or buying it peer-to-peer from someone who had mined it.
What is bitcoin’s highest-ever price?
Bitcoin’s highest-ever price is $68,789, reached on November 10, 2021.
Is now a good time to buy bitcoin?
The best time to buy bitcoin depends on the investor’s situation; however, when the price is low, it is cheaper to accumulate more. This article explores bitcoin’s price patterns and the macro environment around it, which should make it easier for investors to more conveniently identify when it’s the best time to buy or sell bitcoin.
It should be clear by now that bitcoin is an asset like no other. Its ecosystem tends to operate on four-year cycles, while its price may be defined by factors relating to monetary policy, such as the implementation of quantitative easing or quantitative tightening policies.
In just 14 years, bitcoin’s incredible growth has established it as a new asset class everyone started to pay attention to.
Bitcoin Magazine provides a lot of help for those who’d like to do their homework to better learn about bitcoin’s price movements and how to make informed investment decisions.
Consider education as a tool to understand why Bitcoin has gone so far in just over a decade, and you may be able to shift to a longer-term vision beyond its day-to-day volatility.
Bitcoin multisig wallets are a great security solution to help you keep your Bitcoin secure, private and as accessible as your require at all times
What are the best multisig wallets to store bitcoin
Your Bitcoin wallet is the access to your digital funds and should be kept secure and private at all times. Online threats like malware programs, hacks and phishing attacks are always lurking behind the screen, and so is the risk of losing your own private keys, which could lead to losing your funds with no way to recover them.
Bitcoin multisig wallets come to the rescue and represent a great security aid in a self-custody practice. Multisig wallets have existed in Bitcoin since 2012. More recently, they have acquired a stronger position in securing the digital asset with cutting-edge technology suitable for less tech-savvy bitcoiners.
In recent years we’ve seen DIY wallets emerging for extra security. With DIY devices, you can buy your own components and build your own device that leaves no trace and securely generates private keys. Such an approach also benefits users from countries where conventional hardware wallets are not allowed to be sold or have poor delivery services and are optimal for low-cost solutions.
For the purpose of this article, we have structured the content into two distinct sections:
Collaborative custody wallets: whereby you use a third party to manage one of your private keys.
Self-custody wallets: whereby you alone manage the distribution of the private keys.
Best Collaborative Multisig Wallets
In a collaborative multisig wallet, which is likely to offer 2-out-of-3 key management, you will likely have control over one private key. At the same time, the third party — an exchange or a custodial company — holds the second private key online and the third key offline in cold storage.
The advantage of such a solution is convenience and reliance on customer service to assist with managing the private keys if anything happens. This occurs at the expense of privacy because companies may require KYC procedures to allow customers to use their services. Another disadvantage of collaborative multisig wallets is their geographical limitation, as they may not be available everywhere globally.
Casa storage solutions were launched in 2016 and provide a non-custodial, multisig wallet and tiered plans for some of the best security that you can find in the market for your bitcoin funds. In December 2022, Casa added support for ETH, a decision that displeased Bitcoin users, many of whom supported Casa due to their stellar reputation and because they were a Bitcoin-only company.
A fundamental aspect of Casa multisig is that it is seedless because the use of a recovery seed phrase is considered both a poor user experience and a weakness in the security model due to the burdensome processes required by users to back them up.
Casa supports Trezor, Ledger and COLDCARD hardware wallets. The multiple keys required to access your funds are held on different devices and locations, making it impossible for thieves or natural disasters to cause you to lose more than one key at a time.
Casa provides different recommended tiers depending on funds allocation. Higher amounts of bitcoin require extra security with higher costs in protection. The basic wallet is still considered secure but best for smaller holdings. Casa App works on both Android and iOS mobile phones.
Type of Wallet: Desktop and mobile wallet
Purchase cost: Free
KYC Policy: No KYC required
USP: Self-managed multi-device, multisig wallet
Coins: Bitcoin Only
Signatures: 2 of 3; 3 of 5
Hardware Wallet integrations: All hardware wallets
Nunchuk is a next-gen multisig wallet that can be used for self-custody of bitcoin with multisig features. At least two keys are required for transacting and the loss of any one key will not compromise your funds.
To overcome an individual’s burden to manage keys alone, the Nunchuk team has developed a collaborative wallet which is both multi-user and multisig. Such a solution allows users to co-manage bitcoin with the loved ones they trust, thereby reducing the burden of key management while trusting known people and not third-party businesses.
From the tech standpoint, Nunchuk offers the latest innovations in Bitcoin, including PSBT and the descriptor language that largely improve the ecosystem’s interoperability. This is a necessary feature for hardware and other wallets like Core to be compatible with Nunchuk.
Nunchuk has also introduced an Escrow type of wallet for holding bitcoin temporarily and moving funds quickly.
For users’ full control over their funds Nunchuk has added support for coin control, replace-by-fee, personal server and TOR support, to mention a few of the security and privacy tools available.
Austin-based Unchained Capital is a financial service company focused on Bitcoin only. One of its most popular services is its blockchain-based loans that do not require a credit check. Bitcoin-based retirement plans are also part of their unique offering, as is their trading desk that allows users to buy bitcoin directly to a cold storage wallet.
In 2019, they launched the Caravan wallet that replaces the previous collaborative custody solution and, unlike its predecessor, cuts out Unchained as a counterparty. Caravan is an open-source wallet that lives on GitHub and is available for everyone to make their own copy.
It provides a multisig option that can be completely trustless — with only one single user — or can involve multiple parties.
Unchained provides full support for Trezor, Ledger and COLDCARD hardware wallets. All their keys use hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallets that are cold-stored on hardware devices, including offline air-gapped machines.
Best Self-custody Multisig Wallets
Self-hosted multisig wallets are for the ultimate security and privacy-concerned bitcoiner as such solutions let the users control their private keys and let them decide how and where to store them. Users of this type of wallet generally store their private keys in different devices and locations for ultimate security.
A thief would need to access and compromise all locations and devices to steal the private keys and the funds, so this is nearly impossible to happen. On the other hand, self-custody multisig wallets may be more suited for advanced users as they require some technical skills to assemble them or even just for the setup.
Type of Wallet: Desktop and Hardware wallets
Purchase cost: Free desktop; $350 for the DIY wallet
KYC Policy: No KYC required
USP: Extreme security
Coins: Bitcoin Only
Signatures: 2 of 3; 3 of 5
Hardware Wallet integrations: All hardware wallets integration on the desktop version
Specter Solutions was founded in 2019 and developed in Germany by Crypto Advance GmbH. They offer two types of wallets, the desktop solution and the Specter Shield DIY hardware wallet. The desktop wallet is compatible with all existing hardware wallets like Ledger, Trezor, COLDCARD, Seedsigner and, of course, Specter DIY.
The hardware solution requires the user to assemble the components; therefore, some technical skills are necessary. It provides a large display screen and a QR code scanner for fast transactions with an air-gap method that does not require being connected online to sign a transaction for extreme security.
Its multi-signature support requires users to set up 2 out of 3 signatures (devices) for verifying a transaction. This wallet is easily identified as the next-generation bitcoin wallet, which offers all the necessary features to grant the user the ultimate self-sovereignty every bitcoiner seeks.
Electrum was created in 2011 by developer Thomas Voegtlin and, with over ten years of operation, it can be considered the most secure hot wallet due to consistent support and review of its code. It’s never had downtime because its servers are decentralized and have built-in redundancy.
It is a non-custodial wallet connected to the user’s full node for complete control over their private keys. The lack of KYC requirements or storage of users’ data on the project’s servers makes it one of the most private wallets on the market.
Electrum offers a range of advanced functionalities like few free wallets do. It is compatible with hardware wallets for extra secure cold storage and provides an online watch-only functionality. It allows the creation of multisig wallets and the ability to set up custom transaction fees and use the replace-by-fee (RBF) feature.
The Lightning Network integration also makes the wallet great for fast payments. The Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) feature allows a lightweight client to verify that a transaction is included in the Bitcoin blockchain without downloading the entire blockchain.
The Sparrow wallet is one of Bitcoiners’ favorites because it’s free, open-source software with great perks and comes with a lot of security, privacy and convenience features. It is a desktop software application designed to be used with your own Bitcoin full node for extra security and privacy and it’s the best alternative to Electrum and Specter desktop wallets.
Sparrow supports all the features expected of an innovative bitcoin wallet. It provides full support for the single sig and multisig wallets on all legacy and SegWit script types while giving users full control in the wallet creation and editing processes.
Sparrow supports all major hardware wallets (including air-gapped devices) but encourages integration with COLDCARD because it is bitcoin-only; it transparently displays the details of your wallet and transactions and contains a good set of privacy and security-related features. It supports partially signed bitcoin transactions (PSBTs), coin and fee control with coin selection and labeling for all transactions, PayJoin support and built-in TOR.
Sparrow is a tab-based desktop wallet, but it doesn’t use browser technology, which is less safe than dedicated desktop applications because it has a larger attack surface potential. It also provides strong encryption for extra security.
Type of Wallet: Desktop and mobile wallet
Purchase cost: Free
KYC Policy: No KYC required
USP: Simple user interface for beginners
Coins: Bitcoin Only
Signatures: 2 of 3; 3 of 5
Hardware Wallet integrations: All hardware wallets
Established in 2018, the BlueWallet has become one of the most popular and efficient bitcoin wallets for beginners over the years. It has gained a great reputation because it includes most features that make Bitcoin unique, like the use of multisig vaults against phishing attacks, on and offline thievery, malware infection, key or device loss or device malfunction.
A flexible number of keys and addresses can be used for multisig security, compatibility with most hardware wallets, watch-only setup and airgapped features are some attributes that make the BlueWallet a good option for advanced users also. The Lightning Network integration adds an extra benefit, making it simple to use for fast face-to-face transactions.
BlueWallet users can connect it to their own Bitcoin node via an Electrum server. The integration of Moon pay allows users to buy bitcoin, while the integration of peer-to-peer exchange allows users to execute non-custodial bitcoin trades.
Type of Wallet: Mobile app
Purchase cost: Free
KYC Policy: No KYC required
USP: INheritance supporting
Coins: Bitcoin Only
Signatures: 2 of 3; 3 of 5
Hardware Wallet integrations: All Hardware wallets
This multisig and multi-device security wallet is another next-gen bitcoin tool to help users preserve their privacy and security while storing their bitcoin.
Built by the team at BitHyve, this wallet is compatible with most of the trusted hardware signers to hold your keys in an air-gapped and/or multisig manner. It offers all main features needed for securing your bitcoin: BIP 85 hot wallets, auto-transfer to vault, buy bitcoin directly into your cold storage, and much more.
It is free for all to download and use with no KYC requirements, the wallet allows users to connect their own node and to enable TOR for better network privacy. It is now considered one of the major competitors of Casa, as it helps with Inheritance providing users with the tips, tools and templates which work with their existing estate plan. It’s currently available as a free test-net app but will offer different price plans in the future.
The Best Bitcoin Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Exchanges of 2023: A Comprehensive GuideDescription: This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about why P2P exchanges are important and highlights the top platforms for buying and selling Bitcoin.
Peer-to-peer (P2P), decentralized (DEX) exchanges are a growing method of trading bitcoin without the need for a middleman to facilitate the transaction.
An escrow service usually safeguards the transaction, ensuring that neither the buyer’s nor the seller’s assets are at risk. An escrow is a service agreement that holds the assets or money of two parties. In the case of blockchains, an escrow is a smart contract that releases the money once a predetermined condition is met.
What is a P2P exchange? (and how do they work)
P2P or decentralized networks already existed long before Bitcoin. They involve the exchange or sharing of information, money or assets over the internet between two or more parties without the intermediation of a central authority.
P2P exchanges tend to be more relaxed in terms of verification processes, and trading directly with another party means that users can pick their own payment method and the best rate available while enjoying lower transaction fees.
In P2P platforms, users can establish trust in participants through a rating method that shows their reputation as a guarantee of their reliability.
The role of the P2P platform is to simply match buyers and sellers for a small fee, but it does not hold assets and users transfer their funds to a personal wallet right after the transaction has taken place.
Why use P2P exchanges?
One of the main advantages of P2P platforms is that they never cease to function as long as two or more parties continue to communicate and use the service. They do not need to ask permission from anyone to continue working; this is why P2P exchanges are tough to bring down and are more resistant to any type of attack, whether from a state or a private attacker.
There is no disputing that Bitcoin is the most secure P2P network ever built. The on-ramps and off-ramps cannot boast the same level of assuredness. Centralized exchanges are widely recognised as a point of weakness.
In contrast, P2P networks like BitTorrent, LimeWire or The Pirate Bay could never be shut down because they provide no single point of failure typical of centralized entities but a network or peers who have the same interest in keeping the service alive and safeguarding privacy.
A Bitcoin P2P exchange is the natural marketplace for the top cryptocurrency where privacy, censorship resistance and security are best guaranteed versus centralized services. Using P2P exchanges along with cold storage means embracing the Bitcoin ecosystem and supporting it against attacks.
Bisq is a decentralized peer-to-peer exchange that allows anyone to buy and sell bitcoin in exchange for fiat currencies and other cryptocurrencies. It is a free software with no centrally controlled servers and no single points of failure. It offers different types of payments, including face-to-face and cash, making it an ideal KYC-free solution.
Bitcoin.global is a P2P cryptocurrency exchange that requires no identity verification, waiting times or additional charges, just an email address to get you started.
Hodl Hodl is a peer-to-peer, non-custodial Bitcoin exchange that offers P2P lending services. It requires no KYC or AML procedures and offers many payment options, including cash in-person, prepaid debit cards and bank transfers. It works through a multisig escrow where the seller controls one of the keys and agrees to a payment method with the buyer. Once payment is received, the bitcoin is released and sent to the buyer’s wallet.
Local Coin Swap
Local coin swap is a KYC-free, peer-to-peer, non-custodial exchange that uses escrow protection for users who can buy and sell bitcoin with several payment methods, including cash in-person, cash by mail and gift cards for better anonymity.
Paxful is a Bitcoin exchange and digital wallet that offers a wide range of payment methods, including gift cards, vouchers and airline tickets. It usually does not require KYC verification; however, it had to introduce it at the end of 2020 for a number of countries.
Peach is a peer-to-peer mobile-only app that allows customers to buy and sell bitcoin using Amazon gift cards. The service is still in beta mode, and there’s a waiting list to join it; however, it is one of the few Bitcoin P2P marketplaces on a mobile application for the European market.
Robosats is a peer-to-peer, non-custodial Bitcoin exchange ideal for onboarding new users as it’s easy and quick to use. It requires no KYC since it’s based on pseudonymous avatars that allow customers to trade Bitcoin over the Lightning Network using the TOR browser only.
Telegram, in April, revived an abandoned blockchain project called Wallet Bot that allowed users to buy bitcoin. They have recently launched a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange that users can join to send crypto via chat messages, with only a telephone number required for verification.
You can visit a complete list of P2P decentralized exchanges that require very little or no KYC on GitHub.