Says one polite Canadian: “I’m sorry but I really need to tell you your bitcoin investment offer is unconvincing. Would you mind explaining it better?”
Says one proud American: “Bitcoin what? I don’t know about that thing you’re offering but my button is bigger and more powerful.”
Says one British chap: “Bloody hell, let me do the maths, your mere 5 bitcoins now costs more than £40,000?”
Says one uncouth Aussie: “Mate, hit the frog and toad, the price is now crashing!
Says one wealthy Chinese businessman: Get...money...out.
It’s not going to be easy striking a conversation about bitcoin with common folks. People have different levels of awareness or understanding of it. What others know or think may not be the same as what you have in mind. Their main concern about it may not jibe with yours.
There are many who practically know nothing about it even though it has been in the news for quite some time. There are also those who just couldn’t understand it after you try to offer an explanation. There are those who are just too skeptical about this cryptocurrency that they refuse to learn anything more about it. There are also those who have “invested” in it and are ecstatic about their gains or are realizing they may have to pull out before the price crash gets them. Moreover, there are those who see opportunity in bitcoins like rich businessmen who use it as a way to discreetly move their assets elsewhere and avoid regulators.
To know more about bitcoin and cryptocurrency, it’s worth examining how these are being perceived in different countries while learning a few foreign words and phrases at the same time.
日本での大 / Nihon de no ō / Big in Japan
Japan is arguably the best place for bitcoin and it is not because of Satoshi Nakamoto, the widely believed Japanese founder of bitcoin. This cryptocurrency is big in Japan as it gained considerable support in the world’s third largest economy. It’s not just support from users but also from the government. Japan has already made bitcoin a legal currency. Bitcoin exchanges are officially recognized in Japan. Many Japanese are already using it for day to day transactions. Establishments have started accepting bitcoins as payment. Employers have even expressed intentions to pay employees in bitcoin if they wanted it.
That one of the world’s largest economies and leading hi-tech countries is adopting bitcoin says a lot. This bodes well for the future of bitcoin and possibly other cryptocurrencies. At the very least, there’s at least one country where you can spend or exchange your bitcoins in case the rest of the world stops supporting the cryptocurrency.
风险 / Fēngxiǎn / Risk
In contrast, China is acting like bitcoin’s sworn enemy. The country launched a crackdown on bitcoin exchanges. It has been closing down bitcoin miners allegedly because they are over-consuming or wasting electricity (bitcoin is said to use up to 4 gigawatts of power in China). China may also ban bitcoin trading altogether. Reportedly, the world’s second largest economy is being averse to bitcoins and cryptocurrency in general because of risks. It’s not just about electric consumption. Regulators have associated cryptocurrency with fraud, money laundering, and other malicious or criminal acts. There are also reports that claim that Chinese investors are using bitcoin to get yuan out of China. Chinese businessmen who are seeking to relocate abroad are said to be using bitcoins to slowly and secretly move their assets out.
непопулярный / nepopulyarnyy / Unpopular
In Russia, a bill to legalize cryptocurrency trading is set to be submitted for a vote. Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said that the Russian Finance Ministry is supportive of the legalization of cryptocurrency trade on official exchanges. However, interestingly, a recent All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center poll revealed that only 9% of Russians are interested in buying bitcoin.
Privates Geld / Private Money
In 2013, Germany recognized bitcoin as “private money.” The German Finance Ministry declared bitcoin as a “unit of account” which essentially means that it can be used in trading and for the purpose of taxation in the country. This announcement does not classify bitcoin as a foreign currency or electronic money. Instead, it is being considered as “private money” that can be dispensed in multilateral clearing circles.
mamnue / Forbidden / ممنوع
In the Middle East, bitcoin is mostly strongly discouraged, avoided, or perceived negatively. One popular Saudi cleric declared that in Islam bitcoin is forbidden. This is supposedly because of bitcoin’s anonymity, which makes it a viable tool for money laundering, drug trade, and haram money. Similarly, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam issued an official fatwa ruling that virtual currency is not permitted and is not an acceptable interface of exchange.
देखने और इंतजार / dekhane aur intajaar / Watch and Wait
India is adopting a watch and wait attitude when it comes to bitcoins. While the Indian government acknowledges the risks countries like China are seeing, it is not in a hurry to get rid of cryptocurrencies. The government has been issuing warnings against digital currency investments but has also been sending tax notices to cryptocurrency investors, in a way acknowledging the value of bitcoins and trying to get some windfall.
Règlement / Regulation
The French government is plotting cryptocurrency regulation. The finance minister of France, Bruno Le Maire, called for tough regulations to prevent cryptocurrencies from being used to evade taxes and in financing illegal and criminal activities. This was after French President Emmanuel Macron urged internet giants to cease the use of tax havens.
Contradição / Contradiction
Although not on the same level as China, Brazil is quite aggressive in stifling bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. Brazil’s securities regulator ordered the prohibition of local investment funds from buying cryptocurrencies. It also ruled that digital currency cannot be considered a financial asset. Brazil’s bitcoin situation is somewhat the opposite of what’s happening in Russia. While the Russians seem uninterested in it despite possible government support, Brazilians love bitcoin but their government is trying to stop it.
Just to explain bitcoin for the uninitiated, bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and digital currency. It is currency that has no corresponding physical existence. It resides in computer hardware and software. As a cryptocurrency, it is created and transacted through cryptography. Bitcoins are created and bitcoin transactions are confirmed through bitcoin mining, wherein complex mathematical problems or puzzles are solved to unlock a blockchain.
If you are wondering how bitcoin obtains its value when it’s just a digital presence, ask yourself this question, “How come money carries value when it’s just paper or coin with some print or engraving on it?” Bitcoin has value because it is used as a scarce medium of exchange in the same way standard money or currency is used. Simply put, its value is the result of the acknowledgment of its users that it has value, that it can be used as a medium of exchange, and that it is limited.
On the other hand, in understanding the value of bitcoins, you may encounter the phrase “bitcoin price.” Take note that bitcoin price is not the same as bitcoin value/face value, which is the amount of bitcoin per se usually stated in BTC, mBTC (1/1000 of a BTC), μBTC/bit (1/1,000,000 of a BTC), or satoshi (1/100,000,000 of a BTC). Bitcoin price is the equivalent of bitcoin value in fiat or standard currency. It is like the foreign exchange rate for standard currencies. At the time this post was written, the price for 1 BTC was $4,426.53 (based on Coindesk figures).
Understandably, most people tend to perceive bitcoin price as the true value of bitcoins since goods and services are mostly priced in standard currency. Until goods and services get more widely priced in bitcoins, people are likely going to instinctively convert bitcoins into their corresponding fiat currency values first when talking about their value.
Comparing Cryptocurrency and Languages
Currencies are like languages. For them to work with each other, they have to have a common point through which they can be compatible. There has to be consensus among users. People can use different languages and still understand each other by using a translation service. In the case of currency, a financial services provider serves as the link (through a foreign exchange transaction) to allow the transfer of funds when different currencies are used.
Cryptocurrency is also just like language. It can be useful to people once they learn how to use it (it’s basically just about getting, using, and securing a cryptocurrency wallet). If cryptocurrency users want to use it to buy things at stores that only accept fiat currency, they just have to “translate” it through cryptocurrency exchanges like bitcoin exchanges. It’s just like using other currencies except the “translators” involved are not banks or standard retail financial service providers but cryptocurrency exchanges.
Eventually, once governments or financial institutions acknowledge bitcoin as legal tender, an asset, or at least something that comes close to being a medium of exchange, banks and other established financial institutions may facilitate cryptocurrency transactions.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something about bitcoins and cryptocurrency while learning some new foreign words. It’s not easy explaining bitcoin. Not many would be interested in it especially after the recent price crashes. Translating in different languages the technical aspects of bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general can be a daunting task. The foreign words and phrases above don’t provide exact representations of bitcoin but if you’re a language junkie, hopefully, they somehow helped you continue reading.
Again, cryptocurrencies and currencies are like languages. Agreement and understanding are necessary for things to work.
Image credit: Pixabay - Cryptocurreny Artist Render