Bitcoin Blog a1

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Bitcoin: Currency or speculative asset?

In Forbes, there is an article asserting Bitcoin is an asset, not a currency. Its two main criticisms were Bitcoin’s slow transaction time (calling into question its use as a medium of exchange) and its instability (which calls into question its store of value). Because it doesn’t meet 2 of the 3 defining characteristics of money, it therefore is not money (the last characteristic is a unit of account, which bitcoin is clearly very good at, see here for more).

Now, I think the author’s assertions about transaction times are misguided. If you want to transfer USD across the country, it can easily take days depending on how you do it. This length of time transactions take doesn’t make USD not a currency.

The author does have a point, Bitcoin does fluctuate quite a bit in value. But to this I might ask, how much fluctuation is too much? Regardless of all the fluctuation, Bitcoin still has an actively traded price and a value. Is Bitcoin an excellent store of value? Well, perhaps not the most stable, but ultimately, I think it is.

Overall, the author claims bitcoin is an asset, rather than a currency. He states: “Rather it is a commodity asset that one trades, like gold or silver, in hopes that its value will rise and yield a trading profit.“ I disagree with this idea. Bitcoin is not like gold or silver. First, gold and silver are physical. More importantly, Bitcoin’s source of value isn’t intrinsic, but is derived from belief in its value. Gold and silver both have fundamental values, they have uses besides that as a tool of speculators, whereas Bitcoin has an unclear fundamental value. It’s not that it doesn’t have a fundamental value, it's just not as clear (see past articles of use of bitcoin and other blockchain technologies). Overall, I reject the idea that Bitcoin is something to invest in. Rather, I assert, it’s something to invest with. I use services like Btcpop to invest my bitcoin to make a return. I don’t, however, invest my fiat in Bitcoin. As Warren Buffet said, that would be like investing in checks:

"Stay away. Bitcoin is a mirage. It's a method of transmitting money. It's a very effective way of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting money, too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money just because they can transmit money? Are money orders? You can transmit money by money orders. People do it. I hope bitcoin becomes a better way of doing it, but you can replicate it a bunch of different ways and it will be. The idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke in my view." Source

While I agree Bitcoin in its present form is not the future, it symbolizes the future. It is a step toward the future, a world where physical currency is no longer needed.  Certainly the technical limits of bitcoin prevent it from global adoption, but perhaps another cryptocurrency can do that.

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