Bitcoins have value because people find the Bitcoin protocol to be a useful means of value transfer. Because there is a fixed amount of bitcoin, the value is purely determined by aggregate supply and demand. So it’s like a currency, but it isn’t backed by a government?
That doesn’t seem right. Bitcoin begs the question: “Can there exist a currency backed purely by mathematics and computing power, instead of a central issuer?” Government backed fiat currency has long been the norm. In a fiat system, units of currency can be added or subtracted at the whim of the issuer.
Staunch Bitcoin supporters feel it’s no advantage to the health of a currency when a few people have the ability to make arbitrary changes to it. With fiat currencies, the issuing government is charged with protecting all aspects of the currency, including counterfeiting.
In the case of Bitcoin, math and computing power replaces government. The anti-counterfeiting duties are performed by computer code, and have never been defeated. There are many other aspects to consider on the subject of mathematics and distributed power currency governance. The Bitcoin project is truly an economic experiment.