Computer science specialist, Jean-Paul Delahaye is known for his pedagogical talent in presenting the evolution of mathematics. Publish this fall Beyond bitcoin, a very didactic book on what are commonly called “cryptocurrencies”. Its purpose is not to tackle the subject on a philosophical level by returning to what a currency is and the role it plays in the economy. Rather, it is a question of detailing the technological problems of the crypto-asset phenomenon and explaining why this phenomenon is only the beginning of what promises to be a real revolution in the way of doing finance. Remember that this recent creation – the first bitcoin issued on January 3, 2009 – has undergone a spectacular development.
The fascination of the “blockchain”
Several factors explain this. There is a search by some for new investments in a period of monetary comfort; there is the more militant belief that this is a way to question the functioning of a monetary system organized around the monopoly of central banks; but above all there is the fascination for the information technology on which cryptocurrencies are based. It is on this more particular aspect that the author concentrates his text. Very quickly, he made the distinction between the “blockchain”, the name given to this technology, and current cryptocurrencies. For him bitcoin, which is, to date, the cryptocurrency par excellence, is not destined to last. Speculation surrounding it and has pushed its price up to nearly $ 70,000 in November 2021 to return to around $ 20,000 in late August, its use by organized crime, particularly to get ransom payments, as well as criticism aroused by the incredible consumption of electricity that accompanies it, would irreparably condemn it.
On the other hand, the blockchain, the French name of the blockchain, which bitcoin highlights, is destined to spread in the financial world. Indeed, this chain of blocks whose characteristic is to keep track of transactions in a “decentralized, secure and transparent” way, in the words of the author, has a guaranteed future. On a subject that gives rise to often strong, at times almost religious, positions, the first merit of the book is that of providing dispassionate expertise. Its second merit is to make reasoning and reality often presented in an obscure way accessible and not to lose the reader in a myriad of technical details. A book to read to understand what the world of finance could become.
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“Beyond bitcoin” by Jean-Paul Delahaye, Dunod, 272 pages, € 19.90.
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