by Virtusenews
19. December 2022

Evolutionary psychologists believe that the ability to “preserve wealth” gave modern humans the decisive edge in evolutionary competition with other humans. Nick Szabo wrote an interesting anecdote about how in his essay “Shelling Out: The Origins of Money.” When homosapiens displaced homo neanderthalensis in Europe circa 40,000 to 35,000 B.C., population explosions followed. It’s difficult to explain why, because the newcomers, homosapiens, had the same size brain, weaker bones and smaller muscles than the neanderthals. The biggest difference may have been wealth transfers made more effective or even possible by collectibles. Evidence shows homosapiens sapiens took pleasure in collecting shells, making jewelry out of them, showing them off and trading them.

It follows that the capability to preserve wealth is one of the foundations of human civilization. Historically, there have been a variety of wealth preservation technologies that have constantly changed and adapted to the technological possibilities of the time. All wealth preservation technologies serve a specific function: storing value. Chief among the early forms is handmade jewelry. Below I will compare the four most commonly used wealth preservation technologies today (gold, bonds, real estate and equities) to bitcoin to show why they underperform and how efficiently bitcoin can help us save and plan for our future. For equities, I focus specifically on ETFs as equity instruments used as a means of long-term savings.

Detail of necklace from a burial at Sungir, Russia, 28,000 BP. Interlocking and interchangeable beads. Each mammoth ivory bead may have required one to two hours of labor to manufacture.

What Makes A Good Store Of Value?

As explained by Vijay Bojapati, when stores of value compete against each other, it is the unique attributes that make a good store of value that allows one to out-compete another. The characteristics of a good store of value are considered to be durability, portability, fungibility, divisibility and especially scarcity. These properties determine what is used as a store of value. Jewelry, for example, may be scarce, but it’s easily destroyed, not divisible, and certainly not fungible. Gold fulfills these properties much better. Gold has over time replaced jewelry as humankind’s preferred technology for wealth preservation, serving as the most effective store of value for 5,000 years. However, since the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009, gold has faced digital disruption. Digitization optimizes almost all value-storing functions. Bitcoin serves not only as a store of value, but also as an inherently digital money, ultimately defeating gold in the digital age.


Durability: Gold is the undisputed king of durability. Most of the gold that has been mined remains extant today. Bitcoin are digital records. Thus it is not their physical manifestation whose durability should be considered, but the durability of the institution that issues them. Bitcoin, having no issuing authority, may be considered durable so long as the network that secures them remains intact. It is too early to draw conclusions about its durability. However, there are signs that, despite instances of nation-states attempting to regulate Bitcoin and years of attacks, the network has continued to function, displaying a remarkable degree of “anti-fragility”. In fact, it is one of the most reliable computer networks ever, with nearly 99.99% uptime.

Portability: Bitcoin’s portability is far superior to that of gold, as information can move at the speed of light (thanks to telecommunication). Gold has lost its appeal in the digital age. You can’t send gold over the internet. Online gold portability simply doesn’t exist. For decades, the inability to digitise gold created problems in our monetary system, historically based on gold. With the digitization of money, over time it was no longer comprehensible whether national currencies were actually backed by gold or not. Also, it is difficult to transport gold across borders because of its weight, which has created problems for globalised trade. Due to gold’s weakness in terms of portability, our current fiat-based monetary system exists. Bitcoin is a solution to this problem as it is a native digital scarce commodity that is easily transportable.

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Written by Leon Wankum

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