WSU should expand curriculum to account for future economics

Cryptocurrency could become way we conduct all business in future, we should prepare students



Cryptocurrency may well become the currency of the future, so WSU should educate students on its influence on the market and make it part of UCORE.

KADE RUSSOM, Evergreen columnist

Do you ever see those ads on the side of your screen, enticing you to click on them with their promises of making you thousands of dollars a day from home?

While nine times out of 10 that’s a pyramid scheme — and the other time will see your advertising information stolen — the idea isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.

Cryptocurrency has been a buzzword of media sources for years, used since the first of its kind was released in 2009. Bitcoin introduced a new kind of currency exchange, one in which no central service is necessary.

That may not seem so extraordinary, but this fundamentally changes the dynamic of trade. As such, WSU should require an economic or computer science course of some kind within its UCORE graduation requirements.

But why is that? What does it even do? How does it do it and where does earning money factor in? A lucrative future using cryptocurrency hinges on these types of questions, and while I will answer them as best I can, I am neither an expert nor a professional in this field.

And if there’s any fault in cryptocurrency, it’s that it’s cryptic.

“I’ve heard about and even thought of investing, but I still have no idea how it works,” said Brandon Daniels, a biology major and first-year student at WSU.

The majority of people simply don’t know how it operates and there are very few sources giving explanations, at least ones lacking loads of coding and economic vernacular. Researching this was a head-spinning experience, one I still feel leaves me without a complete understanding of the process.

As cryptocurrency might one day be how we cash our checks and pay our bills, it would be best if the public as a whole were provided better education on the subject. It’s an education I will begin now, but one that I assure you will leave you with more questions than answers.

Bitcoin may have been the first, but there are over 2,500 other kinds of cryptocurrencies in existence, according to Though different in their own rights, they each operate on the same type of coding system and on the same economic principle: the blockchain and the concept of money.

The blockchain is essentially a ledger cataloging all transactions made using something like bitcoin. This allows two parties to interact and exchange the currency without a third party to witness the deal. The blockchain system acts as the proof, all interactions tied to those done previously, thus the chain part of the name.

The price of these currencies is the most questionable and appealing part of their use, the exchange rates of a bitcoin to U.S. dollars being in the thousands even now. The worth of a bitcoin is backed by agreed-upon market values of products, the amount of bitcoin in circulation and the trust of its users in the currency, according to bitcoin’s own website.

Though it does not have a tangible substance backing it, bitcoin is just like any other traditional currency in that regard. The U.S. abandoned the gold standard system back in 1933, having the dollar backed on reputation alone for over a century now.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for: how to benefit from this system.

There are, essentially, three kinds of people tied to a cryptocurrency: its users, its workers and its investors. Users are simply anyone who uses the currency for payment or exchange and benefit most from the currency as a secure, neutral and efficient system.

Those who work on cryptocurrencies undertake the task of decrypting blocks of information on the blockchain, validating the transactions which are within it.

They are known as miners, which is an oddly laborious name to give a person with a fairly hands-off position. These people have computers which automatically do the intensive job of decrypting the blocks of information, encrypted in the first place to secure the exchange. Each block earns them an amount of cryptocurrency in pay. Rates vary, but for bitcoin miners, one decrypted block earns them $90,000 at current prices, according to Forbes.

Lastly are the investors, who, to no one’s surprise, buy and sell cryptocurrencies. This is both the most lucrative and dangerous of positions as the prices fluctuate drastically due to the relatively small pool of users in most cryptocurrencies. The current cryptocurrency market, for example, has seen over $706 billion in losses over the last couple days, but still, some suggest now is the ideal time to buy into the market, according to an article by Forbes.

That should cover the basics of cryptocurrency. If you’re confused, that’s normal. So is most everyone else.

“I know that it’s a digital currency, but I don’t know much else,” Daniels said. “I think most people are the same.”

There are so many questions about where cryptocurrency is going, what risks it presents and how it changes everyday life. If there’s one thing it’s certain to affect, it’s the work available to economic and computer science majors.

Cryptocurrency, now and in the near future, will need to be understood in greater depth by these people as they will be the ones most likely to handle it.

There’ll be people in need of others with the skill to operate large-scale crypto-mining operations, analyze economic trends to predict and tactfully invest in the cryptocurrency market or simply know how to use a digital wallet.

The prospects of cryptocurrency are such that it will inevitably have a major place in the future.

Adding a UCORE-required course would create a more economically informed populace, one in which the use bitcoin is as easily understood as the use of a dollar bill.