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I’m often asked what a bitcoin is worth right now, referring to the price in fiat currency a unit is valued at, and I usually respond that I don’t know and I don’t care. The true value of bitcoin as a system, and therefore of a single bitcoin or fraction thereof, is currently immeasurable. This is generally met with skepticism, as if I’m playing a semantic game. And perhaps I am to some degree. But it’s really not quite so simple as saying “$91.92 USD.”

The true value of bitcoin is not what a single bitcoin can be purchased for today but the combined future value of two intangibles: the composition of the bitcoin community and bitcoin’s useful purpose.

The first part is easy to understand. Bitcoin is the accumulation of the talent, hard work and dedication of the people who develop and maintain the protocol, build industries around the protocol, the merchants and consumers who use the bitcoin protocol in their daily lives, and those who promote and protect the protocol. As more people become a part of the bitcoin community, the value of the system increases.

The second part requires a deeper dive into what bitcoin actually is (hint: it’s not virtual currency).

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