In the 21st century, technology is constantly improving and advancing. From sophisticated smartphones to self-regulating AI robots, everything is moving forward at an accelerated pace. Sometimes, it’s even difficult to comprehend the whole scope of this change.
In this myriad of technological developments, one particular invention has attracted many people’s attention. It was borne out of finances and has subsequently spilled over to other industries. It’s called the blockchain.
Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network system that stores the information in blocks. What “peer-to-peer” means is the users are its only governors, regulators, and legislators, so to speak. And this feature makes blockchain one of the most decentralized entities in today’s financial world.
Alongside blockchain, Satoshi Nakamoto also released a new form of money - a cryptocurrency called Bitcoin. Bitcoin was embedded in the blockchain ledger and all its transactions were securely recorded in its blocks.
While Bitcoin and other altcoins, as well as the whole blockchain ecosystem, have undoubtedly improved many people’s lives, some entities have also incorporated this technology into their malicious activities. As a result, both the positive and negative effects of blockchain and cryptocurrencies have become exaggerated.
But before we discuss how the two sides of one coin work, let’s take a look at what cryptocurrencies actually offer to their users. As we mentioned above, blockchain is a decentralized system with only its users on top of its management. This is also true for cryptocurrencies for an obvious reason - they’re part of the blockchain.
And this absence of governing body accounts for many various perks and advantages. For example, every single transaction that takes place on a blockchain is anonymous and no one can track them, let alone reveal the participating parties. This is also achieved by the cryptographic nature of blockchain - the encryption software makes the transactions practically unreadable.
Another equally important advantage of non-centralized management is the fact that only the market forces of supply and demand determine cryptocurrency’s price. If the demand for it rises, the price goes up as well; if it goes down or the supply increases, the price goes down instantly. There’s no space for politically-induced inflations and currency devaluations that’s so characteristic of every government on the globe.
This means that cryptocurrencies are more reliable than their fiat counterparts. And despite Bitcoin and other altcoins being overly volatile, they’re still more secure and stable - at least free from political manipulations.
Last, but not least, cryptocurrencies are great for transaction speeds. For example, if you want to send money from New Zealand (NZ) all the way to Canada, it could take several hours, or even days to complete with conventional currencies. With digital currencies, on the other hand, it takes minutes, if not seconds.
So, cryptocurrencies are in almost every way a better alternative to fiat currencies. And the world is increasingly getting cognizant of this fact. On the one hand, the entertainment industry, along with others, uses Bitcoin, Ether, and similar altcoins to perfect their services and products. However, digital currencies are also deeply embedded in terrorist organizations’ activities. Let’s take a look at both of these use cases.
Setting gamers free from government control
In the case of entertainment, many operators have come across cryptocurrencies and their advantages. For example, the Bitcoin casino slot games in NZ have already become popular among many gamblers in the country.
How does Bitcoin make these casino games better? - you might ask. Here’s the thing: the governments and big banks aren’t exactly thrilled when people engage in gambling activities. They believe that it’ll undermine their financial stability and security. And in some cases, they’re right, as some people develop a problem gambling issue along the way.
However, when it comes to the freedom of choice, these centralized institutions don’t really care as they’re more focused on safety, rather than freedom. Therefore, they “punish” these individuals: the banks reduce their credit scores, the governments increase surveillance on them, etc.
With Bitcoin, however, things happen on a completely different platform: while you pay for your favorite slot games, no person or organization can track you and your transactions. You’re anonymous in every single payment that you make.
Allowing terrorists to avoid punishment
However, there’s a flip side to this feature: while it benefits gamblers and other non-harming individuals, others with malignant intentions also use cryptos to finance their activities.
For example, a terrorist organization ISIS has just recently turned to blockchain technology in order to spread videos and messages to their followers worldwide. And it has always been crypto skeptics’ biggest fear - that terrorists would use blockchain with impunity.
Yet again, anonymity is to blame here. Since no centralized entity, including the government, can track the transactions, there’s no way of knowing whether a certain transaction was directed towards terrorist organizations or just another online shop with crypto payment options.
Cryptography gives ISIS and other terrorists the ability to take financial operations under the surface. People from all over the world can easily send their money to those organizations and have no fear that anyone might be watching. Even the terrorists themselves can perform those operations - support their branches in other countries, sell weapons and resources, fund the individuals, and so much more.
This goes to show just how unpredictable modern technology is. On the one hand, blockchain and its increased anonymity features play a big role in setting people free from oppressive governments. Using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, they can engage in various entertainment activities that are normally banned.
On the other hand, however, terrorists and criminals also use this feature to escape punishment and fund their activities. And since no government can track them, they’re free to do anything they want.
Therefore, it’s incredibly important to have some boundaries and checking mechanisms even for cryptocurrencies.