The security of the algorithm that allows computers to mine Bitcoin has contributed hugely to the currency's success. When Bitcoin was first announced, there were significant fears that any crack in the algorithm could make it easy to mine Bitcoin much more quickly than had been anticipated, leading to a rapid collapse in the value of the cryptocurrency. That hasn't happened to date, but a new report in the MIT Technology Review suggests that the rise of quantum computing could change all of that. Are they right? Or is this the latest Bitcoin scare that will lead to nothing?
When will the problems occur?
Quantum computing has been on the horizon for some time now. It probably came to the attention of many members of the public when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave an excellent explanation of it during a speech. For Bitcoin, the technology is most likely to be a problem when it is new and puts significant amounts of computing power in the hands of a small number of individuals. This may simply allow these computer users to out-mine other users. This would concentrate the supply of Bitcoin in the hands of a very small number of people and make it much harder for new people to get involved in the cryptocurrency game than it currently is.
Can the problem be fixed?
The solution to the problem may lie in the careful distribution of quantum technology, rather than fixing Bitcoin itself. If the technology is not concentrated in the hands of a few, many people will be able to mine Bitcoins more quickly. While this may cause a small fall in the value of Bitcoin as more supply comes into the market, it will not cause the destabilisation that quantum computing in the hands of only a few is likely to.