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Is There Still a Chance That Bitcoin Goes to Zero?

By Evan Jones06/19/2024

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Though the European Central Bank predicted that Bitcoin was going to zero during the last Bitcoin collapse in fall of 2022, it certainly hasn’t gotten very close as of yet. It got to about as low as just under $15,000 USD during the fallout of the FTX Exchange collapse, but Bitcoin showed remarkable resilience, and now trades around $70,000 USD about a year and a half later. 

Even still, there are those that wonder if there is a chance that Bitcoin will go to zero, and of course the bearish talking heads who don’t see why it has any value. But is there really a chance that Bitcoin ever goes to zero? Let’s take a look. 

The Decentralized Nature of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is far and away the most decentralized blockchain network on the market, there are about 75,000 Bitcoin active Bitcoin nodes around the world. Of those 75,000, there are about 20,000 reachable nodes, meaning nodes that are running the full Bitcoin core and are accepting inbound connections. 

The decentralized nature of Bitcoin is part of the reason it will be hard for Bitcoin to ever reach zero. Even if Bitcoin were to be banned in one country or another, as long as there are nodes running, there is utility for BTC as a way to send value around the globe in an uncensorable manner. 

The size of the community also would have an impact. Most Bitcoiners like it because of its deflationary nature that goes against most of the monetary policy that governments tend to implement nowadays. Even if Bitcoin were to lose favor, it would still be a deflationary asset that goes against said monetary policy, which would likely maintain interest for many.

Odds Are Low, If At All

All of the above combines to make it difficult to see Bitcoin goes to zero anytime soon. Take into account the fact that it’s also legal tender for El Salvador, with other nations considering it in a similar manner, and the odds look low. As long as Bitcoin has some sort of utility to someone, it will always have value, even if it doesn’t reach some of the high predictions in value that some like to make. 

Essentially, in order for Bitcoin to go to zero, every Bitcoiner would have to lose interest, every nation state would need to do the same, and then every node around the world would have to stop running. The odds of that happening seem slim.

Code Error or Quantum Computing?

Realistically, one of the only ways in which Bitcoin could go to zero is if there’s an error in the code that causes the blockchain to fail. However, this is pretty much impossible at this point with the way network upgrades are rigorously tested.

What could end up being a problem for Bitcoin is quantum computing. In theory, quantum computing could make the type of cryptography that Bitcoin and other blockchain networks use obsolete. With quantum computing and enough information, someone could in theory take your Bitcoins. Quantum computing could allow someone to derive your private keys from your public ones and take your BTC, but how likely is that?

Deloitte, one of the largest consulting and financial advisory companies in the world, has already done the work in figuring out how much Bitcoin would be at risk in this scenario. Essentially, the amount of Bitcoin at risk because of quantum computing would be Bitcoin held in specific address types only, which Deloitte found to be about 4 million BTC. Over time this amount could go down as people move their BTC off of these more risky addresses.

If this amount of BTC was stolen, it would certainly have a negative effect on the market, but it’s hard to say if it would cause Bitcoin to go to zero.

Could the USD Go to Zero?

It’s probably worth considering whether the USD could go to zero while we are discussing Bitcoin’s odds, as the USD has more going against it than Bitcoin when you dive in deep. Tim Draper, famed billionaire and venture capitalist, thinks that it’s the USD, not Bitcoin, that is likely to go to zero. He sees a cataclysmic event for the USD and a subsequent bank run which will see the dollar lose value quickly.

Draper said, “Sometime in the next seven years, I think that we will have that cataclysmic event,” Tim Draper. “There will be a moment in time, and I don’t know whether it’s a day or a month or maybe over the course of two months or something, but I don’t know when it will start, whether it’ll be a year or five years or whatever, maybe even ten years out,” Draper said. “But it’ll happen very rapidly.”

Draper’s reasoning is likely the same as any Bitcoin maximalists, US debt. US debt has hit over $34 trillion, with another trillion in debt being added almost every 100 days. It would take monumental and rapid economic growth in order for the US to be able to deal with this debt, with the more likely scenario being a loss in value for the USD over time.

US banks haven’t exactly been performing that well since the spring of 2023 when a couple mid-sized banks in the US collapsed either, with more bailouts occurring. All of this combines to paint a poor outlook for the value of USD over time. 

Closing Thoughts

There is essentially no chance that Bitcoin will go to zero. It didn’t even have a value of zero when it first started, it has always had some sort of value, whether that’s 10,000 BTC for two pizzas, or 1 BTC for $70,000 USD. 

In order for it to go to zero, there would have to be an enormous shift in sentiment around the asset, so much so that all Bitcoiners would abandon it, which seems unlikely. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens to Bitcoin’s price if the USD does start to lose its shine over the coming years.

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bitcoin
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Evan Jones

Author

Evan entered the crypto scene in 2017, attracted to the many disruptive possibilities that blockchain could have on current world systems. He has a keen interest in decentralized services, payment processing, and viable NFT use cases such as event ticketing. He spends his days writing with his dog Kobe under his feet, if not on his lap.

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