Cryptocurrencies: what to study until there’s a ‘bachelor of bitcoin’
Joel Emery’s passion is cryptocurrencies, IT and tax law. It’s dense stuff, but despite a recent senate inquiry, legal treatment of new financial technologies is in its infancy so Emery’s Bachelor of Laws honours thesis at ANU is in some ways ahead of the regulators.
Bitcoin emerged in 2008 as the first decentralised cryptocurrency, a form of cash that uses encrypted records to validate transactions and generate more bitcoin and, although crypto-currencies get a bad rap at times, the industry is estimated to already be worth more than $14 billion.
Every day, ordinary people walk out of the house without a cent, yet buy coffee, lunch and dinner using a digital wallet, and cryptocurrency is accepted as payment by the likes of Dell and Microsoft.
Emery has landed a graduate tax consultant role with a leading accounting firm in his final year of university and his success begs the question: how do you study crypto-currencies and global stateless finance? These job areas will grow, so what do tomorrow’s experts need to consider today?
The key to bitcoins – and other “altcoins” or crypto-currencies, such as Peercoin and Robocoin – is a technology called blockchain, a distributed database which operates as a public ledger of transactions and ensures that any single bitcoin can be transferred securely but can’t be “double spent”.