Here are the seven main Bitcoin ‘tribes’
WHY: Techies are by far the largest subgroup of Bitcoin fans. Guys – and they are mainly guys –with PhDs in computer science, physics and maths have flocked to Bitcoin.
Attend any Bitcoin conference and you’ll see delegates wearing slogan t-shirts with messages like ‘there’s no place like 127.0.0.1’ or ‘1+1=2 :weapons of math destruction’.
HIGH-PROFILE EXAMPLES: Satoshi Nakamoto (the pseudonym for the anonymous creator or creators of Bitcoin), Vitalik Buterin (the 21-year old founder of Ethereum, a decentralized web 3.0 publishing platform).
2) Libertarians/ political radicals
WHY: Bitcoin is a decentralised currency: politicians and central bank governors have no say in how it’s run.
Libertarian Bitcoin supporters believe devolving control of a currency from the state to individual users will benefit the world economy.
HIGH PROFILE EXAMPLES: Roger Ver (the Bitcoin angel investor who renounced his American citizenship after serving a 10-month jail sentence in the country); the Republican governor of Texas Greg Abbott (who accepted Bitcoin donations during his electoral campaign).
3) Dodgy dealers
WHY: Bitcoin is pseudo-anonymous rather than a fully anonymous digital currency as the Blockchain is open for all to see. But the heightened level of anonymity it does offer makes it attractive to criminals looking to launder money.
HIGH-PROFILE EXAMPLES: Ross Ulbricht (who was found guilty by a US court of running online black market Silk Road); Vladimir Kats (a founder of digital currency payment platform Liberty Reserve who pleaded guilty to money laundering).
WHY: The rumour is there’s money to be made from digital currencies. So big names from Wall Street and the square-mile are making the leap into Bitcoin start-ups.
There’s also a crossover between the two worlds: technologists believe the blockchain can be used to make financial trades more secure.
HIGH-PROFILE EXAMPLES: Blythe Masters (the former head of global commodities at investment bank JPMorgan Chase &Co), former head of energy trading at JPMorgan Chase Daniel Masters (now director of the Global Advisors Bitcoin Investment Fund)
WHY: By definition hipsters are drawn to anything that falls outside the cultural mainstream. And for the moment that includes Bitcoin.
If you look up the locations of the UK’s Bitcoin ATM machines, you’ll see they’re clustered in younger, edgier districts of London and Brighton.
WHY: As Stewart Douglas, founder of Bitcoin company TradeMore, told us in interview: “A lot of venture capital companies are aware Bitcoin could be a big deal in the future and they don’t want to miss the wave. Just like they wouldn’t have wanted to miss the internet wave.”
To-date venture capital firms have invested more than $560m in Bitcoin start-ups.
HIGH-PROFILE EXAMPLES: Marc Andreessen (co-founder of $4 billion venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz), Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group), Bill Gates (co-founder of Microsoft, a company which accepts Bitcoin payments).
WHY: with any trend or movement you get mega-fans who take their interest and devotion to the next level. All these guys can talk about is Bitcoin. They got sucked down the proverbial ‘rabbit hole’ a while back and they haven’t been back up to the surface since.
EXAMPLES: Martijn Wismeijer (who got near-field communication chips injected into the back of his hands to make himself a human Bitcoin storage facility).
Have we missed any Bitcoin fan-groups out? Let us know in the comments section below.