In terms of generosity and prescience, I arguably peaked in 2013, when a friend of mine gave birth to an adorable baby girl named Alex*. Eschewing traditional offerings of onesies and rattles, I decided to give her a single bitcoin—then worth about $200—with a small note:
Congratulations on your entry to the world. This bitcoin will either pay for your college tuition or provide you with another way to tease me in 20 years.
Today, hovering at a price around $17,000, it looks more like that bitcoin will pay for Alex’s tuition. However, that was not always the case. In 2013 it simply felt appropriate to give a child who will never know life without hyper-connectivity the first native digital asset of the Internet. (Granted, it also helped that, as a newborn, her risk profile was well suited for a volatile asset.) My motivations were somewhat pragmatic but primarily sentimental; I think that blockchain technology will usher in an important shift for the next generation and I wanted Alex to be exposed as early as possible.
This holiday season, we should rethink our conventional thoughts about gifts and look to the digital world. I think a portion of a bitcoin—or another type of cryptocurrency—would be an excellent gift for anyone interested in the future.
Over the past 20 years, the ability to send data across the world instantly has changed the genetic makeup of work and socialization for billions of people. The largest vestigial organ in an age shaped by the Internet is the traditional banking infrastructure, which remains the primary way to transfer value. In addition to its glacial pace, it also systematically isolates from its services the people who most need secure mechanisms to store value.
I became excited about Bitcoin when I realized that it was a way to circumvent or displace a clunky traditional method, a metaphorical appendectomy of sorts. Though I don’t know if Bitcoin will be the piece of software that becomes synonymous with online commerce, I have a lot of conviction that the technology underpinning it will. The rapid pace with which contemporary business is transacted almost necessitates this innovation.
Bitcoin and blockchain technology represent a new paradigm for transferring value and contracting with people across the world. Though it’s not terribly difficult to understand conceptually, the best way to understand it is to roll up your sleeves and gain exposure firsthand. One easy way to get started is to purchase a fraction of a bitcoin on a cryptocurrency trading platform.
Owning a little bit of bitcoin is the easiest way to understand its virtues and limitations. Giving it as a gift is a novel way to expose someone else to the technology without boring them with white papers and cheesy YouTube videos. Regardless of how high its price rises, your friends and family will be one further step toward understanding the way the next generation will transfer value.
* This name has been changed to preserve privacy.
Kathleen Breitman is the co-founder and CEO of Tezos. Breitman is an investor of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.