The publication of Bitcoin’s white paper on Oct. 31, 2008, set in motion a revolution that was born on the back of passionate and vehement, but also a complex and unique group of people. This cryptocurrency community has come a long way since Cypherpunks began using cryptography to launch a disruptive wave that spawned a global movement, now populated by millions.
Different strokes, different folks
The crypto community that exists today began 10 years ago as a number of diverse small factions emerged within the burgeoning cryptocurrency ecosystem. As the first digital currency, Bitcoin was the trendsetter, introducing a tight group of technology and cryptography enthusiasts to a new project that would revolutionize the world.
A new development
This original group of developers and engineers still plays a significant role in the operation of the current ecosystem. Many continue to be heavily involved in the shaping and molding of the bigger coins, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.
A new wave of developers is building and expanding the altcoin space. With each new ICO, the crypto community grows, adding more technical knowledge to the pot. Lessons taken away from the early stages of the cryptocurrency movement are applied to improve it and maintain its relevance.
As Bitcoin grew beyond the bounds of tech and cryptography forums, it started garnering the attention of those who were interested in acquiring something with the potential to gain value. This spawned a mining movement.
Digging into something new
The original Bitcoin miners were everyday people who, with the lightest of equipment, could haul out coins en masse because the initial difficulty level was very low. The genesis of the cryptocurrency mining faction, a powerful force today in the crypto community, began as a truly decentralized network. Anyone with a GPU could be a miner.
Today, miners have moved with the times and the increasing difficulty. They are claiming monopolies by banding together and creating pools that control large chunks of the entire operation. Some argue that these pools have diluted the democratic nature of Bitcoin, giving organizations within the community the power to shape decisions. Nevertheless, their role remains vital.
About a year after the white paper was released, Bitcoin was given a value. Liberty Standard set the first Bitcoin exchange rate against the dollar: $1 = 2,300.03 BTC. The first purchase of tangible goods with Bitcoin — two pizzas that came to BTC 10,000.
This development introduced a new sector to the community. Early adopters and investors began treating Bitcoin not only as a currency but also as an asset with a fluctuating price.
Since the beginning of this investor movement, many different groups have entered the community. Meanwhile, early Bitcoin investors have matured to become developers, influencers, miners and experts, taking advantage of the growing crypto space.
The news of Bitcoin’s astronomical growth in a very short time also caught the eye of a new breed of trader: the hype investor, in it purely for the promise of easy gains.
Like many first investors, hype investors enter the community through Bitcoin, hoping to profit from its volatility with little to no understanding of the inner workings. They tend to be very transient and fickle, easily manipulated, constantly moving in and out of the crypto community.
Nevertheless, the space allows these types of investors to grow. They begin to diversify and spread out to other coins.
The cryptocurrency ecosystem is finally establishing itself in the mainstream market, with a large portion of the global population having at least heard of Bitcoin. However, the numbers of those who actually own cryptocurrency are much lower.
It is hard to put a figure on exactly how many people are part of the crypto community, or how many trade in cryptocurrency. To get a sense of it, the exchanges present some interesting data. According to its website, Coinbase, one of the largest exchanges in the US, has 13 mln users. This is impressive, especially considering that they only deal in four coins.
Different factors can affect the number of cryptocurrency users at any given time. One such influence comes from another sector in the crypto community.
Within the community, there are a number of influencers both for and against cryptocurrency. It’s important to keep the naysayers involved because they can have a big impact on the overall scope and direction of crypto development.
Major coin founders are often vocal about the entire crypto space and their coin especially. People like Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s founder, Charlie Lee, Litecoin’s founder, and even those who were part of Bitcoin’s creation, like Nick Szabo all have a big say.
But not only insiders and developers influence the way cryptocurrency is viewed. Media outlets and personalities like Andreas Antonopoulos have dedicated a lot of time to spreading information both within the community and to the general public.
Outside of the walls
The crypto community continues to grow, encapsulating well known and popular figures from other fields, especially that of finance. There are outspoken supporters who are continually drawing attention to the positive aspects of cryptocurrency, like Ronnie Moas, a well-regarded stock picker, and antivirus pioneer John McAfee.
On the other hand, the expansion of cryptocurrencies to Wall Street has led a raft of naysayers to join the crypto community unwittingly. The most famous case is JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon who has gone from calling Bitcoin a fraud to embracing Blockchain technology.
The volatile nature of the cryptomarket space is well personified by its community. Regardless of their allegiances, the sectors where they find themselves or their stance on different aspects of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the community members are always passionate. They will defend their point of view to the death, and while this may lead to opinion differences and factions, they continue to be the driving force behind this innovative technology.