Obi Nwosu is the CEO and co-founder of Coinfloor, the UK's longest-running Bitcoin exchange. He has over 20 years’ experience building online marketplaces and bringing virtual currencies to tens of millions of people. Obi writes The Road to Bitcoin Hegemony, a weekly recap of some of the most impactful developments in Bitcoin.
Do you believe in magic? You should.
Because there was a time when clean drinking water from a tap, gas from a stove, or the electric lightbulb were all magic. They weren’t just conveniences we missed only in their absence. Portable water meant drastically reduced mortality through the eradication of cholera and typhoid. The electric light transformed business productivity by enabling us to work after the sun had set. The Internet is only the latest technology-turned-utility to transform our existence beyond recognition.
These all-encompassing technologies didn't start out as such. Remember how limited the early internet was, or the first camera phones, or trying to play video on dial-up? It was frustrating, sometimes disappointing, but we didn’t turn away from it. We understood that however limited the technology, the Internet represented a revolution in our relationship with information, each other, and the world. We knew the technology would only get better and it did, faster than we ever imagined possible.
And this is the next frontier for Bitcoin: to become the platform for every aspect of our financial lives. And that’s only possible thanks to the technical wizards who are constantly conjuring — not just to make Bitcoin better than it was before — but superior to any other money on the market.
Take the Lightning Network. For years, many currencies (both fiat and crypto) have tried to enable cheap international payments. When we pointed out that Bitcoin could provide a solution, the experts said it couldn’t be done: Bitcoin was too slow, expensive, and cumbersome. Well guess what: we solved it. The Lightning Network now enables anyone to send satoshis, anywhere in the world, with tiny transaction fees, near instantly, and built on and backed by the most secure, powerful network ever created.
Maybe you could ignore Lightning when it was still in the lab, but its benefits are no longer theoretical. If it’s good enough for El Salvador’s citizens and diaspora, it’s good enough for anyone.
And consider claims that Bitcoin’s a one-trick pony. If you wanted functionality like smart contracts, the ‘smart’ money was on the flood of smart contract platforms that launch seemingly weekly. Except now tech like Rootstock and RGB enable Bitcoin-based smart contracts that are every bit as sophisticated and cost-effective as alternatives. With the added advantage, of course, of being built on and backed by the most secure and powerful network ever invented - making them the most secure smart contract platforms on the planet.
Or look at one of the other perennial criticisms about Bitcoin, that it’s unsuitable for trading and corporate transfers because it doesn’t support transactions with sufficient privacy — a must for many commercial use cases. A fair point... but then the Liquid Network brought scale and confidentiality to Bitcoin by being built on and backed by... well, I think I’ve made my point.
Like the internet before it, Bitcoin is a foundation, a building block; what the web did for information, Bitcoin is doing for value. It is the base for a range of new services, many still undreamt-of, that will transform everything from remitting money home to the way individuals, multinationals, and even governments store value or transact.
First there was clean water, then gas, electricity, and most recently the Internet. Now Bitcoin is destined to become the fifth utility. Its magic has always been the power to seamlessly transfer value through time and space. But technologies like Lightning, Liquid, Rootstock, and RGB will elevate Bitcoin from digital gold to priceless necessity. These developments are yet further proof that Bitcoin is fulfilling its promises and pursuing its path to hegemony far faster than ever.