Bitcoin: The Future of Money? by Dominic Frisby

Book review: Bitcoin: The Future of Money? Find out how Bitcoin is set to revolutionise the world in Dominic Frisby's witty and engaging new book, says Matthew Partridge.


Bitcoin: The Future of Money?

by Dominic Frisby

Published by Unbound (£8.99,

(Buy at Amazon)

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Everything about digital currency Bitcoin, from its futuristic name to its association with the 'Silk Road' online black market, is like something out of a thriller. The value of a single bitcoin soared from just a few cents in 2011 to a peak of $1,242 near the end of last year. It's slipped since, leading some critics to dismiss it as a modern-day tulip mania.

But in Bitcoin: The Future of Money?, regular MoneyWeek contributor Dominic Frisby argues that bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies' could revolutionise everything from the banking system to the modern state.

The book is aimed firmly at non-specialists. Frisby explains just what Bitcoin is, how it works, and a bit about its history. He meets the hobbyists, programmers and investors driving the project forward. He reveals his theories on the identity of "Satoshi Nakamoto", the elusive and (so far) anonymous mastermind behind Bitcoin.

And he looks at the long-term implications of digital currencies how they could undermine government control in the developed world and help the emerging world create a more efficient banking system.

As you would expect from a professional comedian, Frisby is an engaging and witty writer. He clearly has a good understanding of the technology involved, but keeps the jargon to a minimum, even in the section dealing with the hunt for Satoshi.

And while he's extremely enthusiastic, almost evangelical, about the potential for digital currencies, his arguments come across as reasoned. Indeed, he deliberately avoids the hype that makes most technology writers sound like double-glazing salesmen.

Of course, his positivity about Bitcoin's social and economic outcomes does not always convince. Other than an account of buying drugs with bitcoins, Frisby doesn't really address concerns about enabling criminal behaviour.

Those who believe we need a strong state to provide public services, such as health and education, may not be thrilled by his prediction that Bitcoin will rewind the clock to the Victorian era. And a cynic could argue that if Bitcoin does threaten governments, they will find a way to ban or regulate it.

We'll have to wait until the technology has matured to get a better idea of how Frisby's forecasts will pan out. However, he is to be congratulated for producing an extremely readable guide to a field that might just have radical implications for our financial system.

Bitcoin: The Future of Money? by Dominic Frisby. Published by Unbound (£8.99,

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri