Money is just the base layer of an economic system, just like BTC is the base layer of the bitcoin economy. The difference is bitcoin is also a network, a tech stack, and a protocol. Digital and programmable monetary infrastructure.
BTC is the native money of the internet, but bitcoin is much more than that. Bitcoin is the internet of money.
In order for you to understand what bitcoin is, you unfortunately have to understand what the internet is.
The Internet (or internet)[a] is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP)[b] to communicate between networks and devices. It is a network of networks…Wikipedia
The internet is programmable information. It is unrestricted, global, instantly transferable information. Bitcoin is programmable money – unrestricted, global, and instantly transferable money.
The internet is decentralized informational infrastructure, bitcoin is decentralized monetary infrastructure. The internet is an information protocol that can be built upon. Bitcoin is a money protocol that can be built upon.
Bitcoin is digital public infrastructure for money, much like the internet is digital public infrastructure for information…it is owned by no one, and accessible to everyone. It is a public good that acts as infrastructure for civilization to utilize if they so please.Jack Mallers
Bitcoin democratizes value in the same way that the internet democratizes information.
The internet has allowed the coordination of humanity on a scale never before seen in human history, allowing for knowledge and revolutionary ideas to spread like wildfire. Bitcoin allows for unrestricted financing, pairing global coordination with unrestricted payments, fundraising, contracts, monetary autonomy and value exchange.
There’s no one in charge of the internet, there’s no central governing body dictating policy. And unlike all other cryptocurrencies, there’s no one in charge of bitcoin. This makes bitcoin the only true neutral money transfer protocol and the most similar to the internet protocol.
Bitcoin is less like an app, like AOL or Myspace, and more like TCP/IP, or UDP or SMTP. It’s part of the internet infrastructure responsible for transferring value. With bitcoin the information is the money, making it fully integrable into the internet stack.
Of course a monetary system not only needs money. It needs transfer services, it needs storage, accounting systems, exchanges, options contracts, trading platforms, insurance, crowdfunding, payment infrastructure, liquidity services, interoperable financial infrastructure etc. Bitcoin is the money but it’s also the platform where all other monetary system functionalities can be built.
Bitcoin is the Internet of money. Currency is only the first application. And it’s core, Bitcoin is a revolutionary technology that will change the world foreverAndreas Antonopoulos -The internet of Money vol. 1
Bitcoin’s design allows for apps to be built on it’s periphery completely without permission. It’s open source and anyone can build a program that uses bitcoin and adds functionality to the network.
Complex custody solutions and transaction types unlocked by outputs like pay to script hash increase the types of possible transactions and improve user privacy and security. Upgrades to the software like Segwit have allowed for greater base chain scaling and for layer 2 solutions like the Lightning network to be built on top of bitcoin. And more recently the Taproot upgrade has unlocked additional smart contract functionality and privacy improvements to the bitcoin stack allowing for all kinds of options contracts and insurance capabilities.
Bitcoin is the Foundation of a Global Monetary and Financial system
Those examples are just scratching the surface though, the bitcoin tech stack rabbit hole goes way further than this simple introduction. From the BTC Pay server, to statechains and sidechains, to RGB, ARK, Web5, Rootstock, Sovereign defi, Miniscript, Stratum V2, Federated Chaumian mints, Ordinals, L402, Stablesats, Taproot assets, Nostr marketplaces and many more. Of course this is not even counting other projects yet to be imagined or built with additional soft fork upgrades like CTV or Cross Input Signature Aggregation.
The industries that will integrate into the internet of money are truly boundless. Social media’s creator economies, AR and the VR Metaverses, eSports, and eCommerce will all be connected this global and frictionless monetary system.
What’s truly revolutionary though is that because bitcoin is open and permissionless monetary infrastructure, the internet of money isn’t limited to just humans. AI, robots, self driving cars, smart homes, drones, and the unimagined future of the internet of things can all leverage bitcoin’s programmability and use this public internet-based money infrastructure in a digital economy completely separate from our own.
Bitcoin is the internet of money, a network for propagating value and securing the ownership of digital assets via distributed computation.Mastering Bitcoin
The internet is a network of informational networks, bitcoin is a network of monetary networks. Different layers and protocols are being built on top, using the base layer as a settlement network and arbiter of ownership for more advanced use cases. The bitcoin stack is much more than just a money protocol, money is just scratching the surface.
If this is all still not making perfect sense to you, this is the key insight that flipped the switch for me personally and made me realize what bitcoin actually is:
Bitcoin will not necessarily be the “money” used for every transaction. It’s aiming for something much greater. Bitcoin will become the foundational protocol that the future digital economy and all global monies will be built upon.
We’re talking a new global financial and monetary system, remade on top of bitcoin. Transferring ownership of real world assets like stocks and bonds and fiat currencies themselves.
The reason this is so revolutionary is because it’s a system that’s based on the money and network being decentralized, independent, and uncontrollable.
A revolutionary economic system, built with technology. Based on rules not rulers.
The separation of money and state.
Why is bitcoin the internet of money and not the larger crypto ecosystem?
The obvious reaction to this of course is, bitcoin is just one blockchain network among an entire crypto ecosystem, why BTC and not ETH, SOL, ADA, ALGO, TRX, MATIC, ATOM, AVAX…..
Isn’t bitcoin + (insert favorite Turing complete smart contract platform) + Layer 2 rollups + defi + metaverse + corporate FinTech platforms = the real internet of money?
While yes we will have a multi-coin world, and multiple smart contract platforms and decentralized nodes and relay infrastructure facilitating communications and payments, bitcoin is by far the strongest base layer internet of money. Bitcoin is unparalleled in it’s decentralization and immutable monetary policy, it’s a Turing incomplete blockchain which prioritizes simplicity, security, and durability.
And due to bitcoin’s strong monetary characteristics, even if other blockchains carry the weight of the IoM infrastructure in the future, bitcoin will always be the gold standard, the digital gold and the golden network that’s completely uncontrollable and immutable to mankind. Combining its neutrality, durability and programmability with an immutable bedrock foundation, bitcoin takes the slow and steady approach to outlast all other monetary infrastructure. Over time the bitcoin network will adopt the successful innovations in the larger crypto space to it’s superior network, leaving other platforms obsolete.
Looking into the Future
To achieve the title of the sole money and monetary system of the future, bitcoin has many challenges ahead of itself. The entrenched fiat capitalist system and competitor crypto networks probably wont go away anytime soon. It took hundreds of years for the separation of church and state, and to think a system as complex as the global economy will be quick to transition is naïve at best.
As a pragmatist I would concede that the likelihood of full market share of the global economy within my lifetime is slim and might not happen for a hundred years. Instead, what I believe is that there will most likely be a multi-chain world and parallel fiat economy for the foreseeable future.
The reason why this is good is because bitcoin will always exist as a voluntary life raft for others to join (Instead of rapidly destroying the global economy, with bitcoin endogenously reborn from fiat ashes).
The fact that an internet based, neutral, and unchangeable economic system exists as an alternative will put a check on the expansionist policies of the other systems. They can exist in harmony as the cost of capital is rediscovered on the open market and the overleveraged fiat system course corrects.
Instead of a seismic shift and quick destruction of the old system, the bitcoin onboarding process (should) and will take time. That’s honestly what’s so exciting. We’re building revolutionary systems that will last generations.