In 2018, I took part in a noisy public debate about whether bitcoin is a beneficial innovation — or the opposite. It was an eye-opening experience: almost as soon as the event was posted online, I was trolled by furious cryptocurrency fans and critics alike. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as ethereum, I concluded, arouse a level of passion rarely found within finance. Their detractors are convinced that the entire concept is a fraud; their evangelists are equally certain that cryptocurrencies are the future. Both sides may be right, depending on timing. Presently, cryptocurrencies seem to be marred by intellectual contradictions. Why does anyone think, for example, that crypto is a good payment mechanism or store of value when transactions are clunky and the value of a bitcoin has swung from $20,000 to $5,000 in the past 18 months? But I also recognise that the underlying blockchain technology is potentially very useful. It is entirely possible that future historians might ...

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