Some Insights From Google Trends on Bitcoin
Bitcoin: What does it mean to you?
Bitcoin, mining, blockchain, ethereum, litecoin, wallet, ICO, airdrops ..............these are the terms you come across everyday if you are really into cryptocurrencies, for whatever reasons.
Just as there are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people's eyes, Bitcoin means different things to different people at different time. Bitcoin's legendary founder Nakamoto Satoshi envisioned Bitcoin as an 'inflation-free' medium that will inoculate its holders from the exploitation by expansionary fiscal policies (read: money printing), whereas many early days miners merely viewed it as an interesting pastime activity.
While the 'inflation-free' property of Bitcoin is somewhat true (for long term), it is far from being a currency when compared to its fiat counterparts. You may be able to buy a pizza with Bitcoin from that shop down the road run by a tech-savvy dude, you can't really use it directly for more than 30% of your daily purchases, at least for now (in 2018).
Out of curiosity, I turned to Google Trends to probe how differently people think of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin: Gold or Garbage?
When I was showing my cousin how to open a Bitcoin trading account at my place few months ago, my mum interrupted and ordered me to stop 'fooling around' with Bitcoin.
'Don't play Bitcoin', she said frantically, 'it's a fraud, a Ponzi Scheme, please don't fall for it !!!.'
While my mum has got no degree in economics and mutual funds are the most sophisticated financial instruments she ever used, many experts and gurus do share her views and sentiments, at least on Bitcoin.
When Bitcoin was first released, it is only rightful that the majority of people who have never heard of 'elliptic curve' were skeptical of it. After all, why would you pay real (fiat) money for something which has no intrinsic value, not recognized by banks and is not tied to any tangible assets?
The average Google search frequencies of the term 'bitcoin up' was significantly higher than its semantic antonym 'bitcoin down' over the last 12 months (before April 2018). This seems to indicate that overall people are more optimistic about Bitcoin than being pessimistic. A comparison of search frequencies between 'bitcoin rise' vs 'bitcoin fall' gave similar results.
In your opinion, how will the value of Bitcoin (measured in fiat currencies) change in future?
Source of Income, Exchange Medium, Long-term Investment or Short-term Speculative Financial Instrument?
Like precious metals, Bitcoin can be a source of income (miners), exchange medium (users), long-term investment (investors) or short-term speculative financial instrument (traders and speculators). To gauge how people intend to use Bitcoin, I compared the Google search frequencies of 'bitcoin mining', 'bitcoin pay', 'bitcoin invest' and 'bitcoin trading'.
Not surprisingly, 'bitcoin pay' ranked the lowest in terms of average search frequencies, reflective of Bitcoin's low liquidity. On the other hand, most people seemed to be more interested in Bitcoin mining as it topped the Google searches among the four. Nevertheless, it does not suggest that there are more people engaging in Bitcoin mining than investment or speculation. Expression of interest does not always result in actions.
What does Bitcoin mean to you mainly?
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