Glenn Beck began his television show Tuesday by asking everyone in his office if they "actually feel they understand Bitcoin," a new digital form of money that also doubles as a payment system.
The answer was unanimously negative.
Beck described his understanding of Bitcoin as a "coin that's not really a coin, money that's not really currency," and though there are a "bunch of rules," it's not controlled by a single entity.
"It doesn't seem like the worst offense in history to not know understand how that works," he remarked.
Beck brought in a number of experts on Tuesday to help clarify the concept, but before the discussion began, he aired the video below to give his audience a basic understanding of Bitcoin:
Jeffrey Tucker, the CEO of Liberty.me, explained that it is the currency and the payment system together that gives Bitcoin its value.
"That's a little strange," he admitted. "We're used to thinking of those things as separate. We think of dollars, and then we think of Paypal or [Visa], Mastercard. Within Bitcoin, they're both united. Payment system and the currency are one single thing."
"It's the sheer efficacy and brilliance of the payment system that led Bitcoin to have value," Tucker continued. "Bitcoin lived on the Internet for ten months at a zero price. It was only once the payment system was tested and tested and tested again that the market said, 'This is extremely cool. This is amazing. You transfer stuff from here to there, anywhere in the world, direct peer to peer. That's a valuable thing to have.'"
Tucker went so far as to say "the dollar is old technology."
"For me the revelation about Bitcoin was when I discovered that it had a limited supply," he said. "I was very suspicious of it up until that time. I thought, 'Well, look, nothing digital or electronic can actually have the properties of money because you can infinitely reproduce it. That's the nature of the digital world.' Then I discovered that the protocol severely limits the rate of creation, and it has an upper limit. That's what blew me away."
Tucker said Bitcoin is a "real free market" that is not "fixed by governments." Rather, it is a system that is "very carefully monitored" by the global community.
Elizabeth Ploshay of Bitcoin Magazine added that consumers can use Bitcoin to do anything from buying plane tickets to purchasing food or making charitable donations.
But another huge benefit of Bitcoin, she said, is that it gives power to people around the world "who can't depend on governments, or even banks, protecting their funds."
Beck remarked: "America's either going to go into authoritarianism -- the world is -- or it's going to be freer than it ever has been. And I'm counting on technology to empower people like they've never been [before]."
Beck said he still isn't sure he completely understands Bitcoin, but said "it's almost like looking at Edison and going, 'I just saw this light bulb and I don't know how it works yet, but I think if it works, it's going to be huge.'"
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