Libertarians flocked to it “because of the potential that Bitcoin offered, as a decentralized form of money.” That is now over.
By Nathan McDonald, Sprott Money:
Today we are going to take a trip down memory lane and rewind back to the year 2012 – the year in which I discovered Bitcoin and registered an account on the now famous Bitcoin Talk public forums.
This was truly the wild west of the Bitcoin era, when almost no one knew what Bitcoin was, nor did they even remotely care to know. It was a scoffed at idea when mentioned to others, and members on the public forums would openly talk about how often they were laughed at by family members and others within their circle for even remotely thinking about the idea. It was a “scam” through and through and was not going to last.
Despite this extreme negativity, this small community continued to grow. Libertarians flocked to its banner, because of the potential that Bitcoin offered, as a decentralized form of money. Bitcoin was for the community, maintained by the community and was the community.
Community was a key word. It was a word that was paramount to the success of Bitcoin. Without it, we wouldn’t see the staggering numbers we see today. This push ever onward by the community is why Bitcoin was able to get its footing and build the foundation it vitally needed to survive and prosper.
Businesses popped up and flourished within this community. Bitcoin-only shops catered to those within and services became readily available. People sold precious metals, cookies, and there was even an eBay-style website for Bitcoin-only transactions. Bitcoin was known as a near-free-to-use “currency”, as transaction fees were almost non-existent and hyper-fast.
Now, sadly, let us fast forward to the state of the community today. Bitcoin Talk still has a community of sorts, but long forgotten is the idea of helping one another and creating its own ecosystem. For years now, holding has become the only valid idea. Barely anyone supports each other in a meaningful way and the once-flourishing ecosystem has all but eroded away.
Transaction fees have ballooned to upwards of $20.00 per order, making it almost impossible for any small business to accept Bitcoin as a payment option. Traditional credit cards, or other forms of payments have once again stolen back their crowns.
Just recently, Steam, the largest online gaming platform and seller of video games, summed up exactly what I am talking about in a recent press release . They stated that it simply doesn’t make sense to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment any longer, given its extreme volatility and cost to transact in:
In the past few months we’ve seen an increase in the volatility in the value of Bitcoin and a significant increase in the fees to process transactions on the Bitcoin network. For example, transaction fees that are charged to the customer by the Bitcoin network have skyrocketed this year, topping out at close to $20 a transaction last week (compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin). Unfortunately, Valve has no control over the amount of the fee. These fees result in unreasonably high costs for purchasing games when paying with Bitcoin. The high transaction fees cause even greater problems when the value of Bitcoin itself drops dramatically.
Unfortunately, they are far from alone, as I have watched many small and medium size businesses turn off their Bitcoin payment options over the past year. Additionally, I have watched numerous other “Legendary” status Bitcoin Talk community members “rage quit” over these very points I am bringing up.
This is something that is not being discussed openly by the markets, as they blindly push the price of Bitcoin higher and higher, and thus increasingly make it even less affordable to transact in.
Perhaps this is not a big deal, and to the new “community” that has formed around Bitcoin, displacing the old guard that used to exist, it likely isn’t. They have no intentions of using their Bitcoins as it was originally intended to be used, holding is all that remains and can you truly blame them given the recent parabolic moves higher?
This has made those who have done so incredible gains and even fabulously wealthy if you were able to acquire at early prices and hold throughout all the volatility we have witnessed.
The question is now, when will the broader market finally understand this point and come to this realization? Bitcoin is still touted as an alternative form of money and is one of the reasons why it has risen so much in price.
Bitcoin can be called a form of saving, an alternative asset or even a store of value, but no longer can Bitcoin can be called money. By any definition it no longer fills this role.
Perhaps one day this will be Bitcoin’s undoing, perhaps not. But for those who have wishful thinking, believing one day that it will become a form of reserve or national currency, think again. This is just simply not possible.
Bitcoin is not and will not be money, the dreams that the early members of the community envisioned are long dead, but the gains are not. As life tends to prove time and time again, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. By Nathan McDonald, Sprott Money
And at her press conference, Yellen was repeatedly badgered about bitcoin. Read… Yellen Shrugs Off Bitcoin as “Full-Blown Financial Stability Risk.” In Other Words, No Fed Bailout when Prices “Fluctuate”
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Hey your missing one KEY factor in your article. And that is Lightening Network, Once that is completely launched Bitcoin fees go back to virtually nothing. There are several improvements already in the works on the bitcoin network. You should add that into your next article.
Except that LN will create centralization. Also, ironic that it promises to lower the fees to virtually nothing, which was exactly what bitcoin promised not too long ago for on-chain transactions. So LN will perform off-chain transactions using “middle-man” nodes. One more layer on top of the blockchain, more middleman (exchanges are another one), more centralization. If bitcoin succeeds in going mainteam, it will recreate a very similar financial system we have now but with new masters. Whatever the original promises and premises of bitcoin were will be so diluted to become irrelevant and insignificant.
It was reported that 40% of bitcoin in circulation now are owned by roughly a thousand accounts. (Apparently, 20% are lost forever due to lost keys.) Bitcoin: the new king maker.
Nuclear-generated power: electricity too cheap to meter!!
The lyrics may change, but the melody stays the same.
I think crypto’s are great(Though i don’t own any nor ever plan to). With that said, it seems a wonderful way to soak-up alot of excess fiat with the additional benefit of increased funds to the revenuers down the road. definately a win/win.
“With that said, it seems a wonderful way to soak-up alot of excess fiat with”
Thast why I dont have an Issue with them at this point in time.
Apart from the fact they are a Scam, and should not be allowed.
A fool and his money Etc.
Today there is far to much liquidity around, anything that evaporates some from fools, does some good. Just like Stalin.
The reality of lightning, https://youtu.be/UYHFrf5ci_g (how lightning changes Bitcoin)
+1 for the vid, a good explanation
The core Devs refuse to hardfork to keep onchain fees low. They WANT $100 onchain fees. Some even want $1,000 fees.
The Lightning Network white paper itself states that a 130MB block size limit would be necessary for mainstream adoption to be possible, even with various Layer 2 scaling options.
At least with the tulipmania we ended up with some nice tulips to look at, after wars and blackouts they are still there.
a roach motel like the stock market.
I heard Adam Carolla once say something to the effect of “You never want your name associated with the word ‘Community’ unless the word ‘Gated’ comes before it.”
A lot of the action comes from Asia. It will stop once the Asian market goes to hell. That’s a long time. Just take a look at the Chinese. Stock market crash, etc, etc and it just keeps plodding along to the next bubble.
People have more money than they say they do.
Sigh. There’s this thing with …. Asians and … gambling. Go to any “casino” (card house) here in California and you’ll see it. Especially Chinese people. So, Bitcoin probably is an enticing type of gambling, and so far, it’s been a pretty good kind of gambling to be into. So I can easily understand hordes of Chinese people buying in. This is gambling more than “wow they’re super smart they’re buying Bitcoin”.
Bitcoin will go the way of Napster. This current generation of “inventors” keep forgetting, or just don’t want to know the real world cost of the technology they want to give away for free or next to nothing.
Bitcoin, Uber, Tesla, AirBnB, etc – all seem like great ideas, until they grow beyond a safe or efficient product.
All seeming to be in the realm of trying to upset the apple cart, Bitcoin is the only stone in the road big enough to try and it will likely be a simple bump.
Corrective, a decentralized encrypted peer to peer network is very hard to hack (probably impossible) but ultimately inefficient and cumbersome if grown to a large scale (nation or world). A centralized database (like Visa) is much more efficient but much simpler to hack into. The primary weakness of other electronic payment systems is they are based on central bank currencies and carry serious risk of dilution.
There is still no money in existence that represents a safe store of wealth.
The game was over the moment when Bitcoin Futures was floated on the markets. Anyone with common sense has fled Bitcoin and gone into other cryptocurrencies.
Also, and another thing to note is how the IRS has moved Coinbase to reveal the personal details of over 1400 account holders.
This looks like a government crack down on cryptocurrencies! It has been speculated that these actions are to pave the way for governments to come out with their cryptocurrencies based on their currencies.
I believe the biggest fundamental mistake ICO’s made was in floating their companies on the stock market. However they do need regulation and the means to inspire trust. But is the government the only way to do it?
I thought the whole idea of cryptocurrencies was because people were disaffected with governments?
The trust aspect is built into the block chain. But it is simply too technical for your average Joe to understand. And the real problem is the exchanges. Those are real opportunities for scammers and hackers to steal your stuff. That’s the piece that needs government regulation. But you can’t be a card carrying Libertarian and want the necessary regulation at the same time.
I like your name G :)
Shortest story on record? “Dead at 18, buried at 65.”-just as short as Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
“Bitcoin is not and will not be money”
I’ve been saying this since day one. AND I knew I wanted to get in on this when it launched but I just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to take the plunge.
The coin tards always tout this as a currency as they tell you the value of the their coins in dollars……..
Are VISA transactions monetary transactions?
The old bitcoin everyone fell in love with back in 2012 is still here, but known as Bitcoin Cash. The article is correct on “Bitcoin”, although the Author should point out that today’s “bitcoin” is centralised (controlled by Blockstream) and admittedly NOT to be used as a currency but to act as store of value. Therefore, this is NOT bitcoin, it ceased being bitcoin and a cryptocurrency from the moment Blockstream centralised its development and made it its stated mission to have high transaction fees in order to discourage its use as a cryptocurrency. As result of this the coin/network that was once bitcoin has been turned into an unusable, archaic network where you can only buy in but not sell. User experience is terrible. Beware though, that this is not because peer-to-peer electronic cash is impossible, but for it best serves Blockstream’s own interests.
For proof of Blockstream’s lack of good faith just consider their refusal to increase block sizes. Today’s bitcoin’s block size is still 1 megabyte, the same as 4 years ago in spite of adoption having progressed exponentially. Block size determines the number of transactions that can be confirmed in every round, by keeping the block size small Blockstream has created an artificial bottleneck where only transactions from those bidding the highest transaction fees pass. This has led to skyrocketing transaction fees. In fact, large transactions, are favored over small transactions and bitcoin transfer is discouraged altogether. They justify this with the fact that bitcoin cannot serve as a currency (only Blockstream is convinced of this) when it is by definition a currency. In other words, they hijacked the bitcoin brand by infiltrating an open source project and making it their own in order to give birth to something nobody has ever tried before, a store of value crypto entity, which they have to call “bitcoin” and still call it a cryptocurrency or nobody would buy in.
As result of all this the Bitcoin cash fork was created in August 2017. Bitcoin cash transactions have subcent fees and take few minutes to confirm. Its distribution is the same as that of the old bitcoin under Blocktream’s control (being it a fork), so the same amount of people that own “bitcoin” also own the real bitcoin, aka bitcoin cash. Its development is decentralised and currently stands out as the only bitcoin in circulation. Therefore bitcoin is possible and there is living proof of it. It is disappointing that the author denies the inexpert reader a better perspective of the current state of implementation of bitcoin as defined in Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper (peer-to-peer electronic cash) by not mentioning the important reality of bitcoin cash.
So I never got into bitcoin or the alt-coins. But one of the things that I thought made them valuable was the lack of 3rd parties to manage your transactions. So what is this talk of $20 fees for transactions? I thought there were no 3rd parties, so who are you paying a fee to? That kind of blows my whole understanding of these things. Anybody know?
Bitcoin has a transaction fee system to handle situations where demand for the network exceeds its capacity. Whenever someone submits a transaction to the network, they have the option to include a transaction fee that goes to whichever miner includes that transaction in a block. If there are more transactions than will fit into one block, miners can be expected to choose the transactions with the highest fees first. So the higher the fee you attach to a transaction, the more likely it is to make it into the next block.
That’s interesting. So someone set up a system where miners can, I guess bid on a fee by applying processing power. But doesn’t that just make miners the new 3rd party?
Someone has to maintain the ledger, lots of computations required to keep the whole thing up and running. As the number of coins available to mine diminishes the only incentive to maintain the and verify the ledger will be transaction fees (did you think it would be done for free?)
If no one maintains the ledger the whole thing becomes unstable or bogs down and transactions could (and probably will one day) take days, weeks, months or never. Peer to peer maintenance and verification is the Achilles heal (it was supposed to be the stable foundation).
Cracks are starting to appear in the dam. Don’t buy real estate downstream.
Great response. Thanks.
“Dead . . .” left off a zero on the number accounts the IRS will now audit as only a little over 800 people claimed profit on Bitcoin on their taxes. You can bet the IRS will go after the rest of cryptocurrencies next.
Since this lawsuit was pending, crypto went on a pump and dump scheme waiting for the IRS hammer to drop, because tens of thousands of people owe taxes, penalties and interest for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 for even one dollar increase in perceived value as there are no IRS rules protecting crypto. No better way to get out from under the IRS than to pull in more saps and use their U.S. dollars to pay the tax man. The rest better hope the IRS accepts gift cards in payment as a conversion from Bitcoin back to the dollar will become impossible.
Thanks for the update Duke!
I’ve grown tired of bitcoin, it didn’t even double this week – starting to seem pointless.
You could have gotten in at thirty-eight cents. Now at $17,000 it doesn’t seem to hold the same speculative promise. At some point there will be no more wealth to transfer into the scheme. Geometric growth cannot be sustained on a finite planet – those are just the laws of reality.
Put your money in something tangible like gold, beanie babies, cabbage patch dolls or porcelain figurines – they are wonderful collectibles that never seem to lose value. They are all pretty much equivalent – so take your pick.
Good is equivilant to Beanie babies? Last time I checked central banks did not claim to hold beanie babies?
As far as I know, haven’t there been any 2750 -year-old beanie babies discovered …
I’m confident that bitcoin will peak right after I decide to buy. I’ve been following it for several months, but it’s against everything that I learned in business and graduate school. I don’t understand it, and Peter Lynch said never to invest in something you don’t understand. There seems to be no fundamental value, other than the computing power that is used to generate a bitcoin (~$1,000). It seems like the embodiment of the Greater Fool Theory. I’m retired and I have well structured, ample portfolio consisting of mutual funds and savings accounts. Yet, if I would have invested a few months or a few weeks ago, I’d be even better off, assuming that I would have secured the bitcoins.
I’m in your position too, Roger, except that I don’t hold much in bank savings accounts (which I don’t trust and where it loses value due to low interest rates and inflation). If one had got into Bitcoin early and got out again at some point, one would have made a lot of money. I don’t fully understand it, though, and it seems to have evolved into a casino. I trust concrete wealth and use any spare cash to buy physical gold or silver to hold long term as a financial insurance.
Why on Earth would anyone with a decent fico score use bitcoin instead of a
credit card? This thing is way top heavy.
I use cash, seems to work just fine. Why on earth would anyone use credit or debit cards when cash works so well? People are looking for money that can be used for transactions and also be kept as a store of wealth. So far the search is in vain, bitcoin was the hoped for savior but turned out to be a false prophet. When the grocery store accepts beanie babies I’ll be golden.
How The Net Neutrality Vote May Block Bitcoin And Cryptocurrency Trading
The problem with pretty much all parts of Libertarian ideology is it ironically fails to factor in the human quotient. There’s some belief in the process of human motivations that gets perverted about 30 minutes in.
I recall i read somewhere that Ron Paul wanted to eliminate the Civil Aviation Authority in the belief that crashing airlines would lose customers to non-crashing airlines and that caveat emptor was the only logical way to ensure quality. Except I don’t know much about jet engines so I’m going to have to rely on someone eventually.
Centralisation is always going to occur because of economies of scale and specialisation of skills. Bittorrent is probably the only decentralised system that works (and I suspect, the inspiration for Bitcoin) but that doesn’t charge a fee. The minute a profit incentive is introduced it will be scammed.
Very very true. Centralisation is already happening with Bitcoin and will only accentuate: exchanges and the new promise of lower fees (because Bitcoin failed in that promise) in the form of the Lighting Network.
“The minute a profit incentive is introduced, it will be scammed.” It is just amazing and unfortunate that the average Bitcoin cheerleaders do not understand this fundamental axiom of life. (I’m sure the Bitcoin masters knew this well and are using Bitcoin as a vehicle to create new market rulers on the backs of the naive free-market believers.)
You’re going to have governance, read “power,” exerted by someone, whether an elected official, a career civil servant, a CEO, proprietary owner or warlord.
Isn’t it better that governance be carried out in the people’s name, so that there’s at least a theoretical chance, based on lawful, institutional structures, to have be used for their benefit?
I know it’s quaint, but perhaps it holds some more humane possibilities than the alternatives.
One has to admit that the crypt phenomenon is fascinating as heck. It has energized some of the most spirited debates about “what is money”.
I don’t think any economics or philosophy professor in the history of the world could’ve stoked this honest debate amoung such a large swath of the population.
For that we should be grateful to Satoshi, he forced one of the largest debates about money the world has ever witnessed
Absolutely right John. I would add that it goes a lot further than that too: To even include what financial freedom is? And what true capitalism is? -And the freedom to trade without manipulation from the banks, Wall Street, and government interference?
I believe the argument can be subdivided into two parts that simplify the debate:
What is a payment system and pricing of value?
What is value?
I’m starting to accept that a crypto coin could be considered a store of value.. but I refuse to accept it as a method of pricing and payment for goods and services. The time delays for transactions to complete are too sluggish to foster trade.
I would consider the role of bitcoin to be a pricing mechanism, much as the Euro enables uniform pricing across different countries, and NOT a store of value, and certainly not a speculative investment masquerading as a store of value. Wrong on all counts
“What is money?” is indeed a great question. In his 1969 book, ‘Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth’, Buckminster Fuller called for a global currency based on energy. He called it the ‘Kilowatt Dollar’.
We have something not totally dissimilar in the petrodollar, and the dollar is probably the closest thing to a global currency.
crypto currencies are a hustle for server manufacturers and the energy markets.
humans spend real money on servers and electricity to recieve digital money.
crypto is stolen at point of sale.
blockchain, crypto companies, personal wallets, your network, your computer are forever hackable.
thus far 980,000 coins have been stolen. most unrecoverable no compensation. just robbery or theft (legalises).
15 billion thus far just robbed gone.
this number 15 billion does not account for the folks who purchased fake crypto. or recieved nothing at all.
humans pay real money to server manufacturers and energy companies and the government makes its hustle off taxes.
thats what i see. thats the real hustle in all this crypto currency business.
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
An early study of crowd psychology by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841 examined the South Sea Bubble, the Tulip Mania, and other follies, 176 years later we have Bitcoin, Hedge Fund debt fueled financial fantasies, market values that are completely disconnected from earnings growth, etc., etc..
Upside down pyramids ALWAYS tip, and when they do………
A central bank supported asset rise is not so much a bubble. It’s more a change in paradigm and the social workings of society. Government is now supporting wealthy asset holders at the expense of those who value free enterprise, market discipline, equality of opportunity, and upward mobility.
LOL. Every bubble in my half century as an adult has been described as “a change in paradigm” – usually just before the pop.
AND… I believe I heard Yellin tip over the Bernanke bucket just last week.
“Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
An early study of crowd psychology by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841 examined the South Sea Bubble, the Tulip Mania, and other follies, ”
That should be compulsory “High School Reading”. Anybody who trades “Market’s” should have read it, or various others on the topic.
Apart from the Language and the speed.
The Psychology of the Market Crowd/Herd. Has not changed in 175 plus years.
I wonder if there is an updated version. One that comes to mind: the 1920’s Florida Land Boom and Bust.
Many if not most of the buyers of lots flipped over and over never viewed them. Nearly all the action involved lots not houses for the simple reason that no one would dream of building in swamps that were and are uninhabitable.
Their ‘value’ when the music ended returned to zero.
Wall Street seems to be getting in on the action with a parallel Bitcoin futures market. I expect ‘pump and dump’ with the banksters walking away with the profits as usual.
… the Muppets get slammed.
RE: …and the once-flourishing ecosystem has all but eroded away.
Yet another example of “The Tragedy of the Commons*,” and how quickly this now occurs. The “speed up” or “evolution” of socioeconomic trends/cycles is phenomenal. Changes that required generations in the past now occur in a decade or less, and are accelerating. No wonder people are “bummed out,” and over half the adults on anti-depressants or tranquilizers.
The only country where I have witnessed the Flourishing of the Commons is Japan. Even the homeless there keep public facilities clean and …. they take a bath every day.
Most homeless people in the United States bathe every day, as well. In fact, you pass most of them everywhere without knowing they’re homeless. Many of them are children. Many of them work. Full time.
I think you’re referring to the street-dwelling homeless, a sub-set of the general homeless population, and one whose plight is often accompanied by serious mental health and/or substance abuse problems.
I’d already seen the Steam (online game marketplace) post saying ”no more Bitcoin”. I’ve been saying for some time Bitcoin cannot be a currency because of the volatility, as well as something many don’t realize about ”blockchain technology”. Transactions don’t ‘clear’ quickly, currently it takes at least an hour to clear one (updating the blockchain to prevent ‘double spending’). That’s fine if you’re selling something online to someone else out-of-state for delivery, but are you going to wait an hour at an store or gas station for ”transaction approved” to appear? I didn’t think so. Then there’s those fees, the hype has been ”set up a ‘mining rig’, clear transactions, clear enough of them and get compensated in a new Bitcoin”. Trouble is, even with the skyrocketing value, it takes too long (and too much electricity, internet use and hardware wear and tear) to clear enough transactions to make it worth it – hence the fees.
I have also stopped accepting Bitcoin on my software website, for the same reasons as Steam. Crypto may well be the future, but it will not be Bitcoin. And I hate to say it, but it will have to be CC’s backed by governments. The situation with Bitcoin, which is controlled by a small number of private speculators, is even worse than fiat money controlled by central bankers.
The exchanges are distorting the market with their daily/month limits. They are inflating the value by placing narrow exits around Fiat but allowing unlimited crypto to flow into their coffers.
If you don’t see the impending implosion from this asymmetry you’ll be blindsided when the “run-on-the-bank” arrives.
Most exchanges have similar limits to Gemini’s. The limits seem counter to a true open market price discovery environment
Allowing the exchanges to constrict supply as demand sky rockets. Total manipulation. The oldest trick in the book.
If there is enough interest I may go through the article paragraph by paragraph and explain the mistakes. but for the TLDR crowd ….
1. Bitcoin is “rage against the machine!”
2. Bitcoin is only the first Design. This is the paradigm change. There are smart people out there and when the time is right, there will be a new eCoin.
4. ….. tldw