Necessity is the mother of invention.
2008 will always be remembered by the Global Financial Crisis, a catastrophic event which permeated every corner of the globe in some way, shape or form. The popping of the subprime mortgage bubble sent financial institutions into turmoil. Northern Rock, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and most notably, Lehman Brothers, are just a handful of firms that felt the full effect of a crippling economy.
The fallout from the subprime meltdown extended way beyond those who were at the heart of its cause. The effects trickled down from the lenders to the institutions, into the wallets, chequebooks and daily lives of everyday people. Jobs were lost, homes were given up, and millions of people were pushed below the poverty line — many of whom had never even heard of a subprime mortgage. One aspect to the 2008 Financial Crisis and all the financial crises before it is both striking and decidedly distressing — the majority of people affected, didn’t deserve to be.
Yet, deep within the ruins, something extraordinary happened, something revolutionary.
On the 31st of October 2008, a paper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was posted to a cryptography mailing list under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The paper detailed the foundations for a digital currency in which transactions could be sent from anywhere in the world, by anyone, in minutes — without the need for trust, a resource in short supply at the time.
The crux of the idea was spine-tinglingly significant, even symbolic. Amid the devastation of the financial crisis, Bitcoin was to be the first decentralized currency. A currency that wouldn’t be attached to a state or government, nor have a central issuing authority or regulatory body, its price would be determined by the demand for it, by the value people saw in it. At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s price has surpassed that of gold, at over $5500.
Nakamoto vanished three years after posting the paper, with the last known correspondence stating that Satoshi had ‘moved on to other things’ — but the seed was planted — Satoshi Nakamoto’s legacy lives on.