Although everyone has heard of cryptocurrency, relatively few know what it is and even fewer know precisely how it works, functions and has its being.
What’s not good either is the relatively few numbers who understand the negative impact the alternative currency is having on the environment.
And all this is going on while Nasdaq is adding cryptocurrency exchanges.
Only in America.
Nasdaq is open to becoming an exchange for cryptocurrency according to the Nasdaq’s CEO Adena Friedman.
Speaking to CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ on April 25, Friedman said, “It’s time. People are looking for a more regulated marketplace.”
One speed bump is regulations which need to be leveled before the company is fully prepared to add an exchange. However, Friedman was bullish on the future.
“I think digital currencies will continue to be around. It’s just a question of how long it will take to mature,” Friedman said. “When you look at it and ask, “Do we want to provide a regulated market for the cryptocurrency, the market would have to say, ‘Certainly.”
Meanwhile, Nasdaq is supportive of existing crypto exchanges and on the 25th announced a cooperative effort with Gemini. The Gemini/Nasdaq platform is providing a fair and “rule-based marketplace,’ said Gemini’s CEO Tyler Winklevoss.
Despite Friedman’s optimism about cryptocurrency’s future, she wasn’t as thrilled on the fundraising process called ‘initial coin offering,’ or ICO.
ICOs should be regulated,” Friedman said. “The SEC termed them securities, and as such, they should be regulated.”
The American SEC cracked down on ICO fraud recently and is seeking to regulate everything from cryptocurrency exchanges to digital asset storage — aka ‘wallets.’
Bitcoin prices jumped over 1,300 percent in 2017, and that caught the notice of regulators. Nearing $20,000 in December 2017 before falling back to its worst quarter in history, the cryptocurrency has bounced above $9,000 as of May 1 according to CoinDesk.
Will Bitcoin Cost A Clean-Energy Future?
Most people have ignored the bitcoin buzz for years. Too complex. Far-fetched. The reasons varied. Now, persons with interest in moving past fossil fuels are starting to take notice.
The precipitous rise in bitcoin’s value has a ‘wow factor,’ but the cryptocurrency wasn’t intended to be an instrument of investment. Its creators saw it as a replacement for money. The currency explorers were looking for a decentralized, secure and anonymous method to transfer value between individuals.
What they didn’t factor in is the power-suck the computer network behind bitcoin would become. Bitcoin is slowing attempts to reach a quick transition from fossil fuels. And this is just the beginning. Bitcoin, with its fast-growing climate footprint, is turning into a malignant development.
With cryptocurrency, financial exchanges don’t need government to issue currency or banks to process transactions. Derek Thompson, writing in the Atlantic, calls bitcoin an “ingenious transformative technology” which the entire economy may be built on one day — the monetary equivalent of the Internet.
The growth of cryptocurrency has established an exponential craving for computer power. While bitcoin grows, solving math problems get more and more difficult through the bitcoin process known as ‘mining.’
Eric Holthaus, writing for Grist, points out each bitcoin transaction consumes the same amount of energy required to power nine homes for one day. As miners install fast computers, the aggregate computing power of the bitcoin network is 100,000 times larger than the world’s fastest supercomputers — combined.
The total energy consumed by the network of hardware is big — and estimated 31 terawatt-hours annually big. The network consumes more energy than 150 individual nations. The power-hungry network increases its energy consumption every day by 450 gigawatt-hours — or about the same quantity of electricity Haiti uses in an entire year.
In Venezuela where hyper-inflation and subsidized electricity has triggered a boom in bitcoin mining, operators are now causing blackouts through the nation. The largest mines are in China, and they siphon energy from hydroelectric dams — the least expensive carbon-free energy sources anywhere.
Experts are certain the increasing energy burden will shift progress from electrifying the planet while reducing global carbon emissions. Holthaus thinks it already has.
The only question remaining: By how much?