As the rivalry between bitcoin vs gold proponents intensifies, let’s take a look at the traits & properties of these two commodities in order to find out if bitcoin deserves the title “digital gold.”
A recent report analyzing market data revealed an uptick in inflows into bitcoin and crypto funds, in contrast to record outflows from gold. The report stated that gold investment products have seen record outflows of $9.2 billion over the past 28 days, while bitcoin products saw inflows of $1.4 billion over the same period.
As bitcoin is rising in value and interest globally, gold is doing the opposite, taking a sharp downturn caused by a large November sell-off this year. In order to familiarize ourselves with the traits of these two rivaling commodities, let’s compare the properties of gold vs bitcoin, or as we call often refer to it, digital gold or gold 2.0, to see if BTC truly deserves those titles.
Gold’s pureness can be measured yes, but gold can also turn out to be fake, hence losing points in the criteria of being verifiable. For instance, gold can not only be melted in with different metals, losing its pureness, but can easily be counterfeited and sold on the market as a fake.
A good example was in June 2020, when it was reported that a Chinese company had taken out loans amounting to over $2 billion by using 83 tonnes of gold, many of which turned out to be fake and actuality was gilded copper.
Bitcoin on the other hand is completely and fully variable. All transactions are recorded publicly on the blockchain, and all bitcoin transfers are immutable and can be confirmed by anyone, anywhere in the world with an internet connection. There is a reason Bitcoiners often tout the expression “don’t trust, verify”, since verification of the bitcoin ledger is one of the currency’s strongest traits.
A commodity that is fungible essentially means that they are interchangeable, since they are identical to each other for practical purposes. In its pure form, gold bullion holds the same value regardless of which bar you have in your hand.
The same is true for bitcoin. 1 BTC is always equal to 1 BTC. In this criteria, both bitcoin and gold score high points given that they both can be replaced by another identical item of the same commodity.
Gold is not only heavy in its weight, it is also very expensive to transport both domestically and internationally, making it a lot less practical and attractive as a portable commodity.
Bitcoin meanwhile is highly portable as a digital asset. BTC can be transferred by anyone, anywhere, at any time of the day or night as long as there is a working internet connection available. This portability, mobility and accessibility makes bitcoin one of the most attractive commodities in the world, especially compared to gold.
Gold has the great property that it can be shaped and formed into endless forms, and that it also cannot be destroyed. Gold has additionally withstood the test of time for many thousands of years and is highly durable.
Bitcoins themselves cannot degrade over time as long as the bitcoin blockchain is operational. However, hardware wallets and BTC holders’ access to their private keys, such as paper wallets, phones or USB sticks, are degradable over time, which is something one must consider when speaking of the durability of bitcoin. That being said, if you simply keep your private keys safe and secure, the durability of bitcoin is intact and very high.
Bitcoin is highly divisible and 1 BTC can be broken down into 100,000,000 Satoshis. This means that 0.00000001 BTC is equal to one Satoshi, and one surely does not need to own one full bitcoin in order to hold BTC, as the value of a Satoshi continues to rise with growth of the bitcoin price.
With gold, the divisibility score is quite low when compared to bitcoin’s ability to be divided. Although gold can be broken down into coins of any shape, weight or size, gold cannot be divisible to a point where you can buy a bottle of milk or a coffee with your gold. There are clear limitations in terms of practical divisibility for gold.
There will only be 21 million bitcoin in existence once all BTC have been mined. No more, no less. And add to that all the BTC that have been lost over the years, forever frozen and removed from ever touching the markets.
Bitcoin has a finite supply, which is one of the most genius traits and attractive aspects of Satoshi Nakamoto’s creation. Furthermore, the supply of new bitcoins minted through mining decreases every four years through the “halving”, a fact that accelerates the scarcity by making bitcoin a deflationary currency. This of course means that bitcoin is becoming an increasingly and extremely scarce commodity by design.
Gold is a scarce asset and good, but how scarce can easily be put into question. There is no way of knowing how much untapped gold reserves are still yet to be discovered on earth, and there is also the future possibility of asteroid mining of gold, however science-fiction the scenario may seem today.
That said, mining gold is a slow and expensive process, which still means that the gold supply cannot overnight be flooded with newly minted bullions, such as is the case with fiat currencies.
Finally, while governments have and can confiscate physical gold at will, bitcoin is immutable and non-confiscatable by nature. Having the bitcoin network be censorship resistant makes it an increasingly attractive asset compared to gold.
Bitcoin as Digital Gold
When looking at the traits and properties in comparing bitcoin to gold in terms of the two being verifiable, fungible, portable, durable, divisible, scarce, and censorship resistant it becomes very clear that bitcoin has a massive advantage over gold on almost every metric.
Although bitcoin’s current market cap of $344 billion is dwarfed by gold’s estimated market cap around $9 trillion, one has to take into account that gold has been traded for thousands of years, while bitcoin for a mere 11 years. With this in mind and given that bitcoin is most certainly more portable, easily divisible, and its scarcity is arguably more reliable, BTC has truly earned the title of digital gold and gold 2.0 in every sense of the word.
Moreover, bitcoin has over recent years proven that it is a better and more attractive Store of Value, and as bitcoin is in essence the internet of money, few obstacles are strong enough to stand in BTC’s path to one day overtake gold not only in traits, but also in market cap.
Director of Communications and Marketing at Klever.io