When I very first took a serious look at bitcoin, I focused on its potential spil a currency. It wasgoed hard not to notice the enthusiasm for bitcoin among a number of its proponents. But I balked nevertheless. Spil I stated ter “Bitcoin: Fresh Gold or Idiot’s Gold?,” I felt that bitcoin would have a common enemy te governments around the world, implying that it would be outlawed, burdened with onerous regulation, taxed, or otherwise butchered beyond recognition by policy. And all of this is still possible, of course.
But something fascinating happened: My thesis proved accurate, but the outcome wasgoed different than I anticipated. Russia’s government banned bitcoin and, shortly thereafter, China’s government announced major limitations. Ter essence, governments were turning against bitcoin. I expected, however, the price of bitcoin to crash toward zero. It didn’t. My fears manifested themselves, yet bitcoin backers remained steadfast believers.
Wasgoed the bitcoin quote weaker after thesis announcements? Yes. But it didn’t go to zero — or at least to cents on the bitcoin dollar spil it did te the past, when wallets had bot hacked. Its price te dollars declined, of course, but it wasgoed far more resilient than I expected. Had the bitcoin crowd totally disregarded this news? Were bitcoin enthusiasts crazy? Were they blinded by their belief ter the technology toneelpodium? Or by an overzealous faith te bitcoin spil a contraption of the people to defend against an overreaching government?
So, I hopped on a plane and went to the Inwards Bitcoins expo ter Fresh York City to find out. What I observed wasgoed a startling tegenstelling to what I had expected. I had of course anticipated people to be enthusiastic volgers of bitcoin, but I also expected them to be more or less unaware — or at least unappreciative — of the latest events te Russia and China.
What I found, however, were people who were openly discussing the issues and had fully come to grips with the risks and nevertheless persevered with their support for the toneelpodium, funding programs, technology development, etc. Te fact, the wave of development and capital pouring into the space wasgoed staggering. So, thesis people were well informed on thesis major headwinds for bitcoin and yet were undeterred. Unnecessary to say, this intrigued mij.
I also expected the crowd to be primarily composed of libertarian types enthusiastic to thwart government. My thinking wasgoed that perhaps they were simply blinded by their emotional investment ter bitcoin spil a bulwark against government intrusion. Perhaps they wished it to work so badly that they were overlooking the cold, hard truth?
But this wasn’t the case either. Albeit there were indeed a number of libertarians te the audience, it seemed the crowd consisted of people from all walks of life and all sides of the political spectrum. Whoa. Say that again. Yep, there were libertarians, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, and very likely all shades ter inbetween. And virtually all were enthusiastic, well-informed volgers. But why?
Bitcoin has solved a fundamental problem. Normally, whenever there is a financial transaction taking place, there is distrust inbetween the two parties that voorwaarde be solved by a financial intermediary that is willing to take on the risk that at least one of the two parties isn’t going to go after through on its end of the bargain. Te fact, gigantic financial networks have developed overheen many decades to resolve this very problem.
Thanks to bitcoin’s block-chain technology, however, no financial intermediary is necessary for two parties to engage te a financial transaction. This is revolutionary. The emergence of bitcoin spil a transaction toneelpodium means that for the very first time ter human history, any two people anywhere ter the world can instantaneously exchange money (or any form of property) without needing a third-party intermediary to perform a validation or security function. Te essence, bitcoin eliminates linksaf te the value chain, which means that the cost of doing many forms of business declines. This is why bitcoin has intrinsic value.
So, Is Value Necessary for the Bitcoin Proof?
Absolutely. Bitcoin’s value spil a currency voorwaarde come very first from its value spil a transaction toneel. That’s what I missed the very first time around. And that’s what will give it staying power.
So, how much value does it offerande? Consider very first the value of bitcoin to a merchant. Is the case for bitcoin compelling from a financial standpoint? The following table, which should be used with caution, illustrates business costs to the average merchant spil a percentage of sales when conducting business with credit card customers.
The table demonstrates that there are cost advantages to merchants who use bitcoin overheen other transaction platforms. Still, it’s significant to be circumspect te using this table. Gegevens are derived from a broad range of sources, and ter some cases, there were discrepancies among them. The katern totals may very well be dual counting significant cost line items. For example, the percentage of sales rejected because of fraud undoubtedly includes sales that are rightfully declined spil well spil some that are wrongly rejected. Wij simply don’t know how that line voorwerp cracks down into those two categories. Maybe the amount that is wrongly rejected is a little or maybe it is a loterijlot. Moreover, different sources report different levels for each category. Which one is right? Don’t know. Also, thesis values are corded to vary widely from business to business. Lastly, it is not at all clear whether using bitcoin will reduce accounting costs for merchants. My investigations have yielded some conflicting anecdotes but nothing conclusive one way or another.
Nevertheless, I suspect there is some value to merchants from an accounting standpoint because every bitcoin transaction is digitized te a way that fiat money can’t be. Sure, today’s merchants have contant registers and process real-time gegevens on inventories and credit card transactions, but there is a substantial cost to any organization to verify and track metselspecie flows. With bitcoin, verification and tracking is automatic. Ultimately, merchants will have a different mix of business from fiat contant, domestic card–present transactions, and domestic card-not-present transactions, and so I urge caution ter relying on thesis numbers spil gospel truth. Still, this table does illustrate that there is a concrete cost-savings chance for merchants. The only question is how much.
So, when one thinks about money, one vereiste differentiate inbetween currency and money. Currency is a unit of account produced by the government. Money is something of inherent value that exhibits certain properties — chief among them, intrinsic worth. Te today’s digital economy, bitcoin has inherent worth because of its cost reduction capabilities on transactions.
Around the same time “Bitcoin: Fresh Gold or Loser’s Gold?” wasgoed published, Warren Buffett came out against bitcoin, calling it a “mirage.” He suggested that bitcoin wasgoed no different from checks or money orders because they are all just ways to send money from Person A to Person B. He then suggested that checks and money orders themselves have no intrinsic value, so bitcoin itself voorwaarde have no intrinsic value. Therefore, it can’t be money. He also suggested that lots of other cryptocurrencies could speelgoedpop up and dilute away the value of bitcoin. Is Buffett wrong? Yes.
Very first, spil Legg Mason’s Bill Miller, CFA, noted, checks and money orders are unlimited. If you run out of either, your canap will gladly print more. Moreover, anybody can open a handelsbank account at any handelsbank ter the world and use its checks and money orders. There is truly an endless supply from uncountable sources. Bitcoin is fairly different. Albeit there are many other cryptocurrencies, there is only one bitcoin toneelpodium. And bitcoin is ultimately limited to 21 million bitcoins. The scarcity of bitcoins stands ter stark tegenstelling to the infinite capacity of banks to create fresh checks and money orders. And bitcoin is far and away the leader ter the cryptocurrency space. So, it shows up Buffett is mistaken.
Another significant question to response: Why is Buffett wrong? Buffett is fairly open about his limited expertise te technology. So, despite his vast skill and expertise te business, he may have an inadequate understanding of network effects ter technology goods.
To the casual observer, there is no reason why any other rivaling cryptocurrency couldn’t come along and snatch the lead away from bitcoin. But to the analyst well versed ter network externalities, it is clear that there would be tremendous switching costs necessary for the world to transition from one podium to another. Bitcoin, however imperfect it is, has a dramatic lead overheen other cryptocurrencies, and it is bitcoin’s lead to lose. The world, of course, would be willing to leave bitcoin if it fails to produce on its promise, but thus far, this has not happened. If bitcoin does fail, surely another cryptocurrency (altcoin, dogecoin, etc.) will take its place. The trust problem has bot solved, and the entire world now knows how to do that. This genie is out of the bottle, and it ain’t going back.
Bitcoin indeed has intrinsic value. Wij just have to think of intrinsic value ter a fresh way. Bitcoin’s intrinsic value is quota on its value te facilitating transactions ter the global economy. Just spil gold’s intrinsic value is derived from its capability to fulfill the properties of money, bitcoin can meet all the same properties and have lower storage and transaction costs. And once you embrace the fact that its intrinsic value is derived from its value spil a transaction toneelpodium, wij have the recipe for the bitcoin proof:
Bitcoin is a meme. And te order for it to work, people voorwaarde trust it. And people trust it because the block chain is real. And because the block chain is real, bitcoin has value. And because bitcoin has value, bitcoin is money.
This is not to suggest that bitcoin’s success is a fait accompli. It’s not. This argument simply proves that bitcoin is money so long spil it has some intrinsic value. That said, that intrinsic value can still be squandered. Spil I see it, the bitcoin community needs to ensure that bitcoin possesses the following characteristics to waterput it on solid ground:
- Safe from theft
- Safe from loss of private key
- Safe from destruction
- Safe from volatility
- Efficient transaction processing
The public’s perception of bitcoin can also be improved by more widely disseminating best practices. For example, individuals who own bitcoin should not store their bitcoin te the cloud or at their broker. Likewise, if individuals lose their private keys, they lose their bitcoins. When thesis tales of woe are made public, it creates distrust te the system. And trust is at the heart of every financial system — from stock markets, to unie markets, to banking systems, to currencies. Everything. And anything that ruins trust for bitcoin now might derail the success of the bitcoin podium. Te other words, other people’s bitcoin problems are your problems. People also aren’t used to losing money on their money. So, volatility needs to be managed and the instruments to do so voorwaarde be accessible to the layperson. Wij know from behavioral finance that people hate losses two to three times more than they like similar-sized gains. What this tells you is that people would gladly give up the upside ter bitcoin if you protect their downside. This requires the development of a broad, liquid derivatives market married to bitcoin products that pools bitcoins together and hedges each person’s bitcoin value. The volatility of bitcoin should prize the creator of such a product handsomely. Ter lay terms, bitcoin needs bitcoin price insurance. There have also bot some breaches of anonymity, when bitcoin accounts have bot linked to email accounts. Some people may not understand the extent to which their deeds will or will not be anonymous.
Few people truly understand fiat money. They simply know that they can buy stuff with it. Likewise, your cousin, mother, or grandfather need not understand bitcoin ter order for it to build up broad adoption. They simply need to understand its value to them. And therein lies the chance for bitcoin. Just make bitcoin-related products elementary and accessible to the layperson.
Lastly, the speed of processing transactions on the toneel is limited to seven transactions vanaf 2nd. For comparison, the Visa network can process about 47,000 vanaf 2nd. Given bitcoin’s vast potential, it may never be feasible to execute all the transactions that people wish to conduct. So, this problem vereiste be solved before the toneelpodium reaches that size and scope. Thus bitcoin’s success is not a foregone conclusion. But its value is real and the problems before it can be solved. Bitcoin is money. But make no mistake: bitcoin still needs you!
All posts are the opinion of the author. Spil such, they should not be construed spil investment advice, strafgevangenis do the opinions voiced necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.