With all of the articles and debate swirling around the topics of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology, it's definitely possible to feel like there is a tidal wave of change coming your way. Taking a step back from the business implications of blockchain and enhanced encryption, of which there are many, these trends will also have an impact on your personal finances.
This reality is balanced by the fact that these changes will take some time, and will not be occurring overnight. That said, Blockchain will impact you and your money, and it pays to be prepared.
Managing personal finances, whether as an individual or as an individual simultaneously trying to bootstrap a business, is already difficult enough without worrying about the implications of technology on your finances. Building a budget, managing your personal cash flows, and being well informed about credit card issues, require focus, discipline, and commitment to planning for the short, medium, and long term.
Millennials, more so than any previous generation, use technology for virtually every aspect of their personal and professional lives. Even with all of those bells and whistles, remember that technology is not, in and of itself, a solution to personal finance issues.
Let's take a look at some of the things you should keep in mind about blockchain, Bitcoin, and your personal finances:
1. Blockchain is a lot more than Bitcoin.
Bitcoin may get all of the focus and attention in the cryptocurrency market, but the ramifications of blockchain will be much more significant than one individual currency. There are already numerous competitors to Bitcoin out there in the marketplace, including alternatives that have raised significant amounts of capital, on top of Bitcoin itself splitting into various different versions.
2. Blockchain is basically supercharged encryption.
While it may sound super complicated, at its most basic element, blockchain technology uses a combination of anonymity and encryption to add layers of security to individual transactions. With all of the news regarding hacking, data breaches, and other cybersecurity tools, increased security on your savings and finance transactions will only help keep your money safe moving forward.
3. Cryptocurrencies aren't mainstream yet.
It may seem like everyone is investing in, talking about, or using Bitcoin and other blockchain tools and technology, but the reality is that many businesses do not yet accept cryptocurrency for purchases. Several media groups have conducted trial runs with journalists attempting to live on solely on Bitcoin -- as of yet it does not seem to be possible.
4. Big banks have mixed feelings on Bitcoin.
I know I said that blockchain is a lot more than Bitcoin, but Bitcoin has attracted the lion's share of the attention and coverage, including some negative commentary from the CEO of JP Morgan, who openly speculated that the entire field was a stock market bubble. While this may or may not prove to be correct, the reality is that acceptance of Bitcoin by major financial institutions is still a work in progress.
5. Be sure to educate yourself on blockchain technology.
As mentioned above, blockchain is basically encryption that has been supercharged thanks to a decentralized computer support network, unique identifiers assigned to all participating entities, and time-stamp verification. These attributes make blockchain technology very appealing for business and individuals, but like all technology it will continue to evolve and change over time.
Keeping yourself current will help you make the best decisions for you and your finances. Blockchain and Bitcoin may seem like a mysterious technological tool shrouded in mystery, but when you boil it down it quickly becomes apparent that these tools can, and will, have some serious implications for your finances.
That said, however, there's no reason to dive headfirst into something before making sure you are well informed on these issues. Doing your research, understanding the current status of the market, and analyzing where you can insert these tools into your finances will help set you up for success in this rapidly changing area.