Why Zoomers Should Embrace Bitcoin: An Open Letter to Gen Z

Despite its stature as the oldest and most valuable cryptocurrency, Bitcoin remains an enigma to much of Generation Z due to slanted news coverage. Media reports overemphasize fraud, hacks, and price crashes, deterring many Gen Zers from taking the time to understand Bitcoin. But the scandals and criminal activity associated with Bitcoin are not much different from those involving other currencies, such as the U.S. dollar. As Gen Z, the demographic born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, grows up in a period of economic uncertainty in the U.S, we need Bitcoin more than ever.

Charlize Wang is a member of the class of 2025 at the Harker School in San Jose, Calif., and managing editor of Harker Aquila, an online news site.

Bitcoin serves as an alternative to the government-issued fiat currencies we are all so familiar with. And Bitcoin doesn’t discriminate, allowing individuals worldwide to access, purchase, and trade it independently via their devices, regardless of gender, race, or cultural background. Additionally, it shields against inflation. Unlike the dollar and other fiat currencies, Bitcoin has a fixed supply and cannot be created out of thin air. The temptation to “print” money has been too strong for leaders in developing countries from Argentina to Venezuela to Nigeria, where citizens can do little but watch their life savings steadily lose value. Bitcoin, by contrast, remains immune from government control and the risks of an overinflated money supply. It enables individuals to potentially stay afloat during economic crises and safeguard their hard-earned savings.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Wences Casares, a trailblazer in using Bitcoin for social and economic transformation. His stories about how inflation wreaked havoc during his childhood in Argentina deeply moved me. He described how his mother once handed him a grocery bag filled with Argentinian pesos, urging him to spend it all that day because the currency’s value would plummet by the next.

To illustrate the effects of inflation, imagine if you lived in Argentina, where the inflation rate is nearly 300% per year. Even if you had worked for 30 years and saved $100,000 for retirement, after three years, you would only have the equivalent of $1,926 – less than 2% of the value you worked so hard to save.

Gen Z in America may think this is a foreign problem. However, the U.S. economy is in a precarious position. Debt has grown to $34 trillion, it looks like Congress will never balance the budget, and Americans are saddled with unprecedented levels of personal debt. If that isn’t concerning enough, 2023 gave us three of the four largest bank failures in U.S. history. The Federal Reserve’s tinkering with interest rates is not stabilizing the economy in the post-COVID years. With this as our starting point, how will Gen Z realize the “American Dream”?

For 75 years, the U.S. has benefitted from issuing the world’s reserve currency, the “almighty” dollar, and Americans have been largely shielded from the worst effects of over-inflating the money supply. But Gen Z is coming of age at a time when many experts agree U.S. dominance is waning, and we stand to bear the full brunt of currency devaluation. If the leaders of older generations destroy the value of the dollar and Americans’ savings, what will become of Gen Z? Bitcoin may be one of the few solutions that can save us from a bleak future.

Gen Z should not only embrace Bitcoin as a store of value but also for the freedom it offers. We think of America as the “land of the free” because citizens enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to self-defense, the right to vote and the presumption of innocence. But what good are these freedoms if you can’t save for the future? If the currency devalues faster than you can spend it, as the peso did for Wences’ family, do you have freedom at all? Every nation requires an economy where people can save money for housing, food, clothing, and education. Without financial security, chaos ensues and freedom is lost.

Gen Z is the most empathetic generation, the one most concerned with equality and social justice. Bitcoin, unlike the banking system, provides equal access to all. Unlike your bank accounts, your Bitcoin cannot be frozen simply because your views may clash with the government’s.

Given the likelihood of us enduring the brunt of 40 years of poor monetary policy, Bitcoin is a beacon of hope for Generation Z, solving the problem of trust in a government that has rarely earned it.

Note: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CoinDesk, Inc. or its owners and affiliates.

Edited by Marc Hochstein.

 

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