Bitcoin, a controllable cryptocurrency

Two distinctions are first to be made, the speaker mentions from the start. On the one hand, there is bitcoin, the open and permissionless payment protocol to enter, on the other, bitcoin, the monetary unit, which is divided into 100 million satoshis. “It’s also developers, technologies. it evolves, it’s software, it’s anti-fragile. Since 2009, everyone has been trying to attack and crack bitcoin to make money. Each time there are attacks, the version is updated and has become more and more solid”, describes the president of GIRAT, the organization responsible for the initial development of regional fiber optics.

The bitcoin file, i.e. the blockchain, contains the complete record of all transactions since January 2009, when Satochi Nakamoto decided to distribute his white paper “Bitcoin: a peer-to-peer electronic payment system” by e-mail. At that time, he was convinced that he had found the solution to what the electronic payment system had always lacked: double the cost. Cash can never be two places at the same time while an electronic token can be duplicated. The only way to guard against this problem is to have a central trusted intermediary, for example a financial institution, which has the role of ordering and registering the transactions in a database.

“What is discovered is to bring about decentralization,” says Alexandre Binette. Bitcoin is not really a revolution, but an unprecedented combination of technologies and concepts explored since the 1970s to manage to respond to this problem of double spending. »

The blockchain is updated every time there is a transaction on the network, he continues. Each person who supports the network makes an up-to-date copy of this register on his computer. The novelty is therefore to verify all of these transactions independently.

But what about the value of bitcoin? If initially it was worth $0, today the cryptocurrency is $47,000. “All it’s worth is the value we’re willing to give it,” sums up the mayor of Moffet. What drives the value up? The absolute limit of 21 million bitcoins. Right now 19 million are mins. We believe the 21st million will be min in 2140. Supply is decreasing while demand is increasing, which explains part of the price. The markets are not regulated so there is enormous volatility. »

How then is it possible to incorporate in time in an orderly way into the blockchain each transaction? By hashing, which acts like a tumbler with the result of an imprint, a number even greater than the number of atoms visible to the naked eye in the universe, compares Alexandre Binette during his presentation to the Digital Advantage Forum. The miners, equipped with their device which consumes an astronomical amount of energy, thus try by many billions of attempts per second, to win the blockchain lottery. “In the blockchain, we add a random number, our lottery ticket. The incentive for miners to mine is both for the security of the network, but also for the reward. There is a declining one that went from 50 bitcoins per block to now 6.25 bitcoins per block. It will gradually disappear,” explains the graduate of the Ecole de Technologie Supérieure (ETS). It is that the miners hope that the bitcoins will end up being worth a fortune and thus recover all the energy spent.

Of course, the limits of this cryptocurrency reside, in particular, in the environmental footprint it leaves. To give an idea, Alexandre Barrette reports that bitcoin currently requires more energy than countries like Argentina or Thailand. One of the possible solutions is to move the mining where the energy is physically in surplus. Oil fields in the United States or even nuclear power plants are becoming possible monetary batteries.

“Yes, it takes energy. But bitcoin is controllable. It can be moved to where it is less polluting, because in the end, renewable energy will end up costing less,” says the expert.

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Bitcoin, a controllable cryptocurrency

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