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The economic stakes of bitcoin

Bitcoin's Unique Value Proposition

Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, derives its value from universal acceptance within the monetary system. Rarity is a crucial factor, preventing easy replication akin to the counterfeiting challenge faced by traditional currencies.


The Intricacies of Bitcoin's Value

Beyond acceptance, the value of bitcoin is intricately tied to economic mechanisms influenced by supply and demand dynamics.

Mining and Currency Issuance

The Block Mining Process

In the primary market, bitcoins are generated through the mining of each block. A pivotal rule dictates a halving of the mined block's reward every 210,000 blocks, ultimately capping the total circulating bitcoins at 21 million. The Bitcoin Foundation consortium oversees this modifiable protocol, allowing adjustments in response to market fluctuations, albeit with the risk of a hard fork.

The Electricity Conundrum

The primary cost of mining lies in electricity, constituting over 90% of a mining farm's total expenses. In 2015, the bitcoin network's electricity consumption surpassed 173 megawatts, equivalent to 20% of a nuclear plant's output, costing around $178 million annually. However, this cost, when put in the context of global ATM networks, is relatively modest, estimated at 400 megawatts.

Negative Externalities of Mining

Mining introduces a negative externality—each new miner increases individual revenue but collectively raises the overall cost. The difficulty of the cryptographic problem escalates with the number and capacity of miners, risking overinvestment and undermining the decentralized nature of the public blockchain.

Bitcoin's Secondary Market Value

Bitcoin's value in the secondary market aligns more with a financial investment, shaped by anticipations of gains and various influencing factors.

The Demand Dynamics

Bitcoin's demand arises from diverse user concerns, spanning from positives to potential risks.

Anonymity in Transactions

  • Cash reigns as the only 100% anonymous means of payment, with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies closely following. The pseudonym system in the bitcoin protocol ensures transactional anonymity, with some cryptocurrencies like Zcash going a step further by concealing all transaction metadata.

Why Opt for Anonymity?

  • Avoiding traces for surveillance by the State, employers, and certain companies.
  • Countering price discrimination strategies employed by companies and banks.
  • Mitigating the inundation of targeted advertisements resulting from leaving traces through payments.


Bitcoin's value is a multifaceted interplay between acceptance, economic mechanisms, mining intricacies, and market dynamics. Understanding the cryptocurrency's journey from the primary market to the secondary market sheds light on its evolving role in the global financial landscape.


Q: How does the halving of mined block rewards impact bitcoin's circulation?

A: The halving occurs every 210,000 blocks, gradually limiting the total circulating bitcoins to 21 million.

Q: What role does electricity play in bitcoin mining costs?

A: Electricity constitutes over 90% of the total expenses of a mining farm, a critical factor in the cost dynamics.

Q: Can adjustments be made to the monetary rule governing bitcoin issuance?

A: Yes, the Bitcoin Foundation consortium has the authority to modify the protocol, albeit with the risk of a hard fork.

Q: How does the negative externality in mining impact the overall blockchain efficiency?

A: Overinvestment in mining capacity increases the overall cost, compromising the decentralized nature and efficiency of the blockchain.

Q: What factors contribute to the demand for bitcoin in the secondary market?

A: The demand is shaped by user concerns, ranging from transactional anonymity to potential investment gains.

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