What If Crypto Was An Automobile? A Real-World Comparison.

What if Bitcoin was automotive tech?

For some, it’s hard to grasp exactly what impact crypto/blockchain technology is supposed to have on the industry?

Let’s illustrate this by creating an analogy with automobiles.

First we’ll take the most popular payment technology and use that as our control: VISA credit card transactions. It’s how the vast majority of people around the world pay for things.

Next, let’s pick the most popular car: The Toyota Camry.

Let’s take the specifications of VISA and the Toyota Camry to create a composite of what Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, ETH and how other crypto currencies would perform if they were automobiles, in relation to a basic car that is common.

So here’s our baseline:

Payment Technology:VISANotes:
Transactions per second:17000VISA claims they can support up to 24,000+ tps
Max Confirmation time:10 sec5 sec in EU

Places accepted: | 44 million | Sources: 1,2,3

We’re going to be very conservative when we take figures into account and give the benefit of the doubt to crypto currencies and some of their claims. We’ll take the lower metrics for credit cards, and the higher metrics for crypto — which is not necessarily realistic and will make crypto look better than it is in reality, just to make this even more fair to crypto.

Here’s our car model:

Toyota 2021 Camry (most popular selling vehicle in the world)

Top Speed:136 mph
0-60 Time:7.6 seconds
MPG:31 (composite of city/hwy)

Toyota Camry spec citations:

Let’s now line up our CryptoCurrencies and the metrics we’ll be using for them:

Crypto:Transactions Per Second:Settlement Time (seconds):Energy Usage (multiplier)
ETH (PoS)203003500

BTC and BCH I’m assuming have similar power usage, which is 700k x more than the power requirements of Visa – that’s a well established metric taking into account the cost to operate the blockchain/mining/ledger vs the incredible energy efficiency of a centralized (yet also distributed for fault-tolerance) network utilized by credit card companies. BCH claims to have dramatic improvements in transaction time over BTC — not sure if this is 100% true but I’m going to make that assumption for this comparison.

BCH block settlement time based on current stats as of the time of this writing 8/7/21 – 156 blocks/24 hours.1

Regarding ETH/Ethereum… I’m using metrics for ETH that include marketing materials suggesting that if they move to PoS (Proof of Stake) model, it will use 99.5% less energy that BTC — this is probably a wildly optimistic estimate, but we’ll use it anyway, which means instead of 700k more energy efficient, .5% = 3500 x less energy efficient than Visa. The best crypto still can’t compare to the typical production payment technology that’s been in use for decades.

I’m also including Ripple even though it’s pretty much dying but it’s supposedly the fastest crypto, and it’s still orders of magnitude slower than existing payment tech.

Using these specs, we can establish some multipliers between crypto as a tech compared to credit card tech, then apply these metrics to other types of comparative technology.

In this case, we’ll use automobiles.

Here’s how we’ll map the specs:

Crypto qualityCar quality
Transaction capacityMaximum speed
Settlement time0-60 time
Energy usageMPG (miles per gallon)

In addition I’m going to apply another metric I’m calling “available parking spaces” which corresponds with the number of places that accept credit card vs Bitcoin – We will only compare Bitcoin because it’s the dominant crypto and everything else is significantly less accepted.

Visa reports 44 million places accept their cards. Bitcoin reports less than 16,000 but we’ll use the figure 16,000 to be conservative.

So where do we end up?

Final Analysis

TechnologyTop Speed (mph)0-60 time (seconds)Miles Per Gallon
Toyota Camry1367.6 sec31

XRP actually looks interesting here, but this assumes you take their un-substantiated marketing materials at face value. Even so it’s not only better in one respect and anybody who knows anything about computing and databases knows that a blockchain will never be faster than a centralized database, any more than the number 3 will be proven to be less than the number 1. But hey, we’ll take it – even at their best, it still looks questionable and unimpressive.