"Cryptocurrency" isn't actually that complicated... it's just made to seem that way, due to some interesting quirks in history.
Let me see if I can explain in a way that's coherent.
- The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was created in 2009 by an anonymous programmer named Satoshi Nakamoto. To this day, nobody knows Satoshi's identity. They disappeared in 2011.
- Bitcoin was originally designed to be "a peer to peer electronic cash system." That means you can send electronic money across the internet without a 3rd-party middleman (like Paypal, Visa, or the bank) adding extra costs.
- The average person only needs to know that Bitcoin IS money. It's meant to be spent and saved directly. You can be your own bank without anybody's permission, without needing any form of ID.
So how does Bitcoin have value?
The intrinsic value is in the Bitcoin payment network. You can send bitcoin anywhere in the world for very nearly zero cost... that means anywhere from pennies to billions of dollars. And nobody can prevent you from doing so.
But there's a little more to it than that. Bitcoin can be considered "sound money." "Sound money" is "money not liable to sudden appreciation or depreciation in value." So, unlike our dollars, which are currently experiencing an insane amount of inflation, which erodes our wealth and purchasing power... There will only ever be 21 million whole Bitcoins in existence.
Removing the ability for the government to arbitrarily devalue our currency by printing more of it (usually to fund war or something equally asinine) is an absolute gamechanger. This is the most important thing about Bitcoin: it separates the power of money from the State.
That important point is exactly what leads to the interesting quirks in history.
So why am I always talking about BitcoinCash, not Bitcoin?
Well, to answer that, I have to give a little bit of context about how Bitcoin works. I'll try to keep it simple.
You've probably heard the word "blockchain." The blockchain is the heart of what makes Bitcoin work. Every 10 minutes, the Bitcoin network assembles all of the transactions that have happened in that time into a big public ledger called a "block." Each block is signed by a special digital signature to prove that it followed all of the network's rules. On top of that, each block's signature is dependent on the signature that came before it. That's the "chain" part of "blockchain."
Since transactions on this "electronic cash" network are all just data, each "block" has a limited amount of space (in megabytes) available for transactions to fill. Early in Bitcoin's life, Satoshi added an anti-spam "blocksize limit" of 1 megabyte. This made sure that some anon wouldn't attack the Bitcoin network just for the lulz. The blocksize limit was meant to be raised later on as the network matured.
By 2015, it started to become clear that as more people started using Bitcoin, the blocksize limit was going to become an issue. By 2017, blocks were often full. What used to be an instant and extremely cheap to use network suddenly became an incredibly slow and expensive network. Transactions could get lost, and fees would skyrocket.
These problems led to prominent companies like Microsoft and Valve to stop accepting Bitcoin. If I wanna buy a game on Steam for $5, why would I pay $10 in Bitcoin fees?
So why didn't they just increase the blocksize?
Through infighting and massive amounts of censorship, a company called Blockstream positioned themselves to almost exclusively control the code for Bitcoin. They created a propaganda narrative that still exists to this day: "Bitcoin is digital gold." "Bitcoin is a settlement layer." "Increasing the blocksize will lead to centralization of the network" and many other lies.
Now in 2022, it's revealed that Blockstream and their partners are part of the World Economic Forum - what Bitcoiners feared back in 2017 has now been confirmed as reality - Bitcoin has been HIJACKED. Remember how Bitcoin separates the power of money from the State? Think about that for a little bit.
BitcoinCash DID increase the blocksize. So today, BitcoinCash carries on Satoshi Nakamoto's legacy. It still works just like Bitcoin did from 2009 to 2015. It still traces its origins back to Satoshi's first block. For all intents and purposes, BitcoinCash is the TRUE Bitcoin. But all those crypto bros will tell you otherwise - because they don't know.
Bitcoin isn't meant to be this speculative madhouse. It's just supposed to be money. So here we are today.