The book is written by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey. I have to be upfront about this book, it’s not a nuts and bolts guide on how to actually use Bitcoin. What it does do is give a detailed history about the digital currency. It explains the reasons why and how the currency was created, and it also gives a number of compelling reasons for everyday people to learn about the currency and to get started using it.
I know from my own experiences in talking to people about Bitcoin that most people out there have no idea what it is or how it works. This book does a good job in helping to educate people about Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The book is 345 pages long with 11 sections plus its conclusion. For me several of the sections really stand out from the rest of the book. Especially section five.
I found section five of the book to be the most interesting part of it. In this section titled, “Building the Blockchain”, the authors go into great detail of what exactly the Blockchain (also known as an electronic ledger) is and how it records debits and credits. The Blockchain is probably the biggest thing that most people have difficulty with when it comes to Bitcoin. If a person can understand how the Blockchain works then they’ll have a much easier time in grasping the other facets of using the digital currency.
Section eight titled, “The Unbanked”, explains how over two billion people around the world don’t have access to banks. The vast majority of these people reside in Africa, Asia and South America. The book points out that because of this lack of access it makes it much harder to build wealth over time. In one part of this section the authors tell a story about how people working in Mali near the border with Guinea have to depend on couriers to take their money to their families which are located 100s of miles into the country’s interior. In some cases the workers’ families get their money and in other cases they don’t. For us in the Western world, this type of lifestyle is unimaginable, but this is one of the few options the workers have in moving their money.
The section explains how Bitcoin can solve at least some of these issues. There are a number of small companies that have been created to try and remedy this problem using Bitcoin solutions. One company called M-Pesa has figured out a way to use text messaging via cheap $5.00 cellphones to send and receive Bitcoin payments through an intermediary website.
Section seven is titled, “Satoshi’s Mill”. In this section I found the most disturbing part of the book. In it the authors explain how American Venture Capitalists are funding a number of new Bitcoin startup companies. Most of these companies are involved in processing payments or creating wallets for digital currencies. The biggest problem I have is that these one percenters are trying to exploit Bitcoin’s success. I also believe that in time they’ll be in a strong position to influence the direction that digital currencies take. One of the main goals of Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin was to give financial power back to the masses. I believe in time the Venture Capitalists will try to undo what Nakamoto was trying to accomplish.
Overall I found the book to be very educational and I would recommend it to others. Especially to those individuals and business owners who are interested in exploring new ways to send and receive payments.