It all began ten years ago on 3rdJanuary 2009. Satoshi Nakamoto had released the Bitcoin white paper on 31stOctober 2008 – an introduction to a revolutionary monetary system and its currency – but it was on 3rdJanuary 209 that the Genesis Block for Bitcoin was created.
The Genesis Block was the piece of code that formed the cornerstone of Bitcoin. In many ways it is no different from other bits of code and all blockchain codes have a genesis block – the first piece of coding – in their make up. The Bitcoin Genesis Block was simply a code for the first transaction in a cryptocurrency: a 50 BTC reward sent to Satoshi for mining. The importance of the Genesis Block lies in what it represents.
In providing that foundation for the first cryptocurrency, the Genesis Block also revolutionised the way that we think about money, about currency. It has challenged the financial institutions through which the world’s economies turn and provided the foundation for a new ecosystem that is still being built today and which is set to grow and develop in potentially an infinitesimal number of ways.
Covertly embedded into the Genesis Block’s base was a message, which decoded is said to read: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” This was a clear reference to the monetary systems and its flaws that had led to the financial crash of 2008. Trust in banks and in centralised systems had been destroyed and the failings revealed. Cryptocurrency, with Bitcoin at its helm, was the response; the creation of a new system with a plethora of players that avoided the centralisation that was at the root of the ensuing crisis. Bitcoin was the complete antithesis of the policies and practices, mostly questionable, that sparked the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression of the inter-war years.
Bitcoin’s was a silent, bloodless revolution, creating digital cash that was decentralised, based on algorithms and which changed hands in a completely peer-to-peer manner, turning its back on all those institutions that gain most from their control of currency movements. The fact that there is a predetermined number means that it cannot be tampered with in terms of increasing supply, as can fiat currency which is always victim to political machinations by government or monolithic financial institutions. For those that recognised its potential, it spelled a break for freedom, a sense of democratisation of finance, the awakening of a possibility for anyone, anywhere, to enter the world of wealth creation that until then was remote, hard to access, forbidding.
As the crypto world focuses on whether the trading price of Bitcoin has gone up or down or ponders on how far the price will drop before it rises again, it is worth pausing to remember the reason why Bitcoin exists, and how cryptocurrency functions to bring a greater sense of balance to the world’s financial systems.
On its website, The Bitcoin Foundation’s Executive Director, Llew Claasen says: “The last 10 years of Bitcoin have been historic. All of the contributions that have been made by various members of our community since the creation of the genesis block have aided in the journey to a permissionless, decentralized world.”