Bitcoin： New Asset Class or Pyramid Scheme？
Some points to consider:
The commenter writes:
“Bitocin is not a static entity – it has improved massively over the years and continues to improve in terms of efficiency…”(sic)…
When new hardware makes Bitcoin’s proof of work more efficient, the algorithm must increase the difficulty required to validate blocks, or attackers will be able use the efficiency to take over the network. Proof of work requires consuming resources for security; and it requires expending far more energy than any attacker could, because the good miners must keep working every hour of the year, while an attacker could disrupt the network over just a short time.
Furthermore, the comment ignores the fact that fiat based methods of payment are becoming more efficient and faster. With new services I can send money to anyone domestically instantly and to many foreign countries within a day. I can withdraw funds from a US bank account at an ATM in Africa.
When people compare the “costs” and time of bitcoin transactions, they just count the fee charged for changing the blockchain records. They don’t count conversions to usable currency. They don’t count effort spent upfront on customer service, marketing, fraud prevention, or anti money laundering controls that aren’t reflected in the fees recorded in the blockchain. These account for the vast majority of the costs of money transmission, which is accomplished by sending digital signals anyhow. All of these activities are needed for any money transmission service to be something other than a plaything for a few technologists.
The commenter’s logic has been widely used in the past to promote Bitcoin. I wonder if similar logic were used to sell an equity or debt issuance whether the promoter could avoid lawsuits or prosecution for misleading investors?
The author write: “. If you don’t have any bitcoins, you cannot write to the Bitcoin blockchain. ”
This seems like circular reasoning. If I don’t own Penny stock, I can’t get entered into the ownership records and can’t transfer it to get someone else’s name entered. Why would I need or want to write to the Bitcoin blockchain?
You can create your own blockchain using open source software. That is what a number of companies experimenting with blockchain do. In fact people unhappy with how the Bitcoin blockchain works have cloned it and created may other blockchain.
With respect to places that have unstable currency– The commenter states: “In those places, Bitcoin may be available while stable foreign currencies are not available.”
In these countries, stable currencies are available, although government interference may force a lot of the activity to black markets. They are used far more heavily then Bitcoin. The only potential advantage Bitcoin has over a stable fiat currency is when the interest and usage is so minimal that the governments ignore it. Claims that governments can’t interfere with Bitcoin are just untrue. They can shutdown public exchanges, forbid transactions and force it into the same black market that more usable currencies trade in.
Google search trends bear this out—Bitcoin interest from countries experiencing currency stress peaked during the successful promotion in late 2017 and have fallen since then, in spite of increased concern on inflation. Searches for “dollar” and “euro” are a more common response to inflation concerns. See Argentina as a an example ( https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=AR&q=bitcoin,dollar,euro ) where searches for “Euro” dominate.
What really is a more likely use case is for governments of countries like North Korea or Iran to attempt to use Cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions. If the US government were to fail to respond. Should investors be assisting in this activity by buying Bitcoin?
The fact is that after 10 years, Bitcoin, because of its flaws, is still little used as a currency. Furthermore the rate of legitimate usages outside of speculation does not appear to be increasing. This is why the promotions now focus far less on its utility as a transaction mechanism and more on the possibility of getting SEC approval of a Bitcoin ETF or bringing in institutional investors.
There are many more misleading statements made by this commentater and others promoting Bitcoin. Even the decentralization claims are misleading. A handful of mining pools control a majority of the hash power–i.e. the resources dedicated towards guessing a random number that allows a new block to be created. This means that if they collude, they can change the rules that govern what goes into a valid block. In fact the representatives of these mining pools and Bitcoin software developers do negotiate changes in these rules.
In the case of another cryptocurrency, Ethereum, unelected leaders of the community agreed to change their blockchain to undo a transaction that they viewed as theft after a hacker found a means of siphoning funds from an investment vehicle created as a smart contract. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_DAO_(organization)#Proposals )