Is Warren Buffett Right About Bitcoin Being 'Rat Poison Squared'? An In-Depth Examination

Jan 10, 2024

Challenges to Bitcoin's Efficiency and Security: Navigating Slower Transactions and the Rising Threat of Centralized Control:

As more people use Bitcoin, the network gets slower and more expensive to use. This causes transactions to slow down and fees to increase, which goes against Bitcoin's goal of providing fast and cheap transactions. Bitcoin was envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto as a system for efficient transactions with low costs, aiming to enable small, casual transactions without the burden of high fees. One of the key quotes from the original Bitcoin whitepaper that aligns with the goal of efficient transactions is: "The cost of mediation increases transaction costs, limiting the minimum practical transaction size and cutting off the possibility for small casual transactions." If Bitcoin becomes slower and more costly than banks, it loses its key advantage of providing quick and cheap transactions. This shift would undermine one of Bitcoin's fundamental appeals and could significantly impact its utility and adoption for everyday transactions.

Examining the Lightning Network: Only a Temporary Fix for Bitcoin

In response to some of these problems, the Bitcoin community created the Lightning Network to make Bitcoin faster and cheaper. It works alongside the main Bitcoin system, but it's still not very popular and can be hard to set up. Also, there are some concerns about how well it handles big transactions and its security. Even though it helps, the Lightning Network doesn't solve all of Bitcoin's issues because it's an add-on, not a change to the core system. Just like Ethereum needed a major update to improve, Bitcoin might also need changes to its main system for big improvements. In other words, these extra features called "layer 2" solutions, can bring new risks and don't always solve all the problems of the original system.

More Bitcoin miners might make the network safer, but they are unlikely to significantly lower the fees or make transactions faster because of the way Bitcoin is designed, with set times for creating blocks and a limit on how big blocks can be. Bitcoin mining, which is known for its high energy use and environmental impact, is facing some serious challenges. If many Bitcoin miners stop mining, it could make it easier for groups like governments to take control of Bitcoin through a 51% attack, where they gain over half of the mining power and potentially manipulate the network. This is a problem because we need enough miners to keep the network safe and secure. Moreover, if Bitcoin's value doesn't rise and mining rewards get smaller, fewer people will be interested in mining. Instead of relying on layer 2 solutions, the Bitcoin community might need to consider major changes, like creating or adopting a new version of the Bitcoin protocol, to address the issues with the blockchain. This would involve making fixes directly to the base layer of Bitcoin.

Understanding Bitcoin Forks: New Features and Collective Interests:

Bitcoin's forks like Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Bitcoin SV were made to improve the original Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash was created for quicker and cheaper transactions. Bitcoin Gold makes mining easier for regular people, not just those with special machines. Bitcoin SV increases block size and aims to follow Bitcoin's original plan closely. Each fork tries to be better than the original Bitcoin by solving different issues. Those involved in creating forks like Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Bitcoin SV represent collective interest groups, each pushing for changes that benefit their specific visions and interests. The individuals behind Bitcoin forks like Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Bitcoin SV may or may not benefit if the versions they support do well; this creates a market incentive for these groups to promote these forks. Naturally, these groups may also try to get people to use the main Bitcoin less and switch to their version instead.

Considering all these issues, such as slowing transaction speeds, rising fees, security concerns, and the challenges posed by forks, can Bitcoin still effectively serve as a "store of value"?:

The answer is probably, and it depends on the time horizon. Right now, the network appears to be secure. Long-term risks include potential network attacks and advances in technology like quantum computing and AI that might crack its 256-bit private key security. While such powerful quantum computers don't yet exist, the evolving complexity of cryptocurrencies and the knowledge gap among users suggest a need for more centralized control and regulation. There's an ongoing development in creating quantum-resistant cryptocurrencies, indicating the crypto world is preparing for these future challenges. Cryptocurrencies need to keep up with new technologies and find a good balance between being innovative and following regulations. However, as of January 10, 2024, Bitcoin is still struggling to make necessary updates to its basic system.


Warren Buffett called Bitcoin "rat poison squared," and he might be right given its issues. Bitcoin is slowing down and becoming more expensive, diverging from its original purpose. There are security risks and complications from quantum computing and regulatory needs. While there's progress in developing quantum-resistant cryptos, the current Bitcoin protocol struggles with necessary changes. It's possible that if one of the Bitcoin hard forks is eventually recognized as the new Bitcoin, Buffett's statement might not fully apply to this evolved version. However, the specific Bitcoin protocol he referred to still faces significant challenges, potentially leading to its downfall, making him right... once again.


The source confirming Warren Buffett's comment about Bitcoin being "rat poison squared" is from Quote Investigator, an online platform dedicated to tracing quotations. The specific details of this quote, including the context and the event where it was said, can be found in their article titled "Bitcoin: It’s Probably Rat Poison Squared" published on February 11, 2021. You can access the full article for more in-depth information at Quote Investigator​​