Offchain: Return of the king

Offchain: Return of the king

Crypto is surging and Bitcoin is leading the charge. It’s a reminder not to forget who the boss really is.

Do you hear that, friends? That faint popping noise, echoing over the hills, sounding ever so much like someone opening a bottle of Veuve while riding a mighty stallion? That’s the sound of millions of buttholes collectively unclenching as Bitcoin did a 10% day for the first time in, I dunno, it feels like at least three decades.

Remember this feeling? It’s the feeling you could never quite explain to those on the outside of your strange obsession, that feeling of simmering optimism, where suddenly everything looks primed for lift-off, and little electrical currents seem to be circulating beneath your skin as you cycle through graphs and Twitter accounts and Discords, looking for others to share your hunch that perhaps, maybe, everything’s gonna be alright.

October 24 spurred on nostalgia for another reason too: it was a move so clearly driven by Bitcoin, whose gains outstripped most of the shitcoins being lifted by its rising tide – as it has for most of this year.

Bitcoin dominance – the ratio of Bitcoin’s market cap to the sum of every other cryptocurrency – now sits at around 54%, the highest rate since the glory days of early 2021. A year ago, it was hovering closer to 40%, one of the lowest rates in crypto history.

It’s clear Bitcoin is back. But… why?


Half and half

On the one hand, it’s easy to see why Bitcoin might be taking the lead right now. An ETF approval looms and in April another Halvening beckons. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what a halving feels like, but there’s nothing quite like its singular sense of crushing inevitability. It simply has to happen and it simply has to completely change the economics of the system.

Lose faith in the broader crypto project all you want, but unless you think everyone has left and Bitcoin is literally dying – and the endless surge of the mining difficulty chart suggests otherwise – some amount of Halvening upside is a pretty safe bet. It’s herd mentality, innit. Oh, and did we mention the ETF?

But there’s probably a deeper question to be asked here. And that is: why do we still care about Bitcoin? Why does Bitcoin – with all its environmental and political baggage, with its lack of innovation and its relative inaccessibility, slowness and all-round user-unfriendliness – why is it the one to be driving crypto forward right now?

Simple is as simple does

I have a long-standing theory that crypto’s great sin is complexity. Ever since Ethereum arrived on the scene, waving around the dream of some shared, blockchain-enabled global computer, there’s been a collective race to the outer perimeters of what this technology is capable of. Layer upon layer of abstraction and structure have been haphazardly welded together like the rickety housing of some neon-lit slum in neo-Tokyo, with few people ever seemingly asking questions like “Does it work?” or “Should it?”.

On one side this leads to products and networks that nobody actually wants or knows how to use. On the other it creates tremendously fragile financial architectures that call out to hackers like a chihuahua being dangled over a shark tank.

Over the last couple of years, crypto has experienced the equivalent of that meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. (Chicxulub, for those playing at home.) Now most of the lumbering beasts are gone, or soon will be, leaving behind the crocodiles and sharks that perfectly fit their evolutionary niche. And then there’s a suite of skittering creatures running around our feet that may one day evolve into their full potential.

In this analogy, Bitcoin isn’t one of the animals: it’s the Earth itself. Look at everything that has happened in the last decade. Cool, Bitcoin doesn’t care. It’s conservatism as code, a perfectly designed engine that gains value from its sheer unchangeability. It proceeds, crushingly inevitable, rendering a new block every 10 minutes, give or take a few seconds, in much the same way it has since 2009.

Amid all the silliness of crypto’s Caligulan meltdown, simplicity is its own narrative. You want to see an example of blockchain technology actually working? There it is and it’s worth US$700 billion. As Lyn Alden puts it, Bitcoin is “math and rationalism in a world of emotion and chaos”. And as that world trembles, there’s something to be said for the feeling of solid earth beneath your feet.

Luke from CoinJar

UK residents: Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high‑risk investment and you should not expect to be protected if something goes wrong. Take 2 minutes to learn more:

Cryptoassets traded on CoinJar UK Limited are largely unregulated in the UK, and you are unable to access the Financial Service Compensation Scheme or the Financial Ombudsman Service. We use third party banking, safekeeping and payment providers, and the failure of any of these providers could also lead to a loss of your assets. We recommend you obtain financial advice before making a decision to use your credit card to purchase cryptoassets or to invest in cryptoassets. Capital Gains Tax may be payable on profits.​​

CoinJar’s digital currency exchange services are operated in Australia by CoinJar Australia Pty Ltd ACN 648 570 807, a registered digital currency exchange provider with AUSTRAC; and in the United Kingdom by CoinJar UK Limited (company number 8905988), registered by the Financial Conduct Authority as a Cryptoasset Exchange Provider and Custodian Wallet Provider in the United Kingdom under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, as amended (Firm Reference No. 928767).