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What is Bitcoin ? Will be a profitable in future?

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  • Rozyfrdyse's Avatar
    20 posts since Dec '17
    • According to time, everyone has to change. I am talking about currency. In this world, lots of current exist and more benefit in coming days. Bitcoin one of them. It is latest and in high demand. It's price around 18204.84 ( 1 Bitcoin) Singapore Dollar and increases day by day. tell me what is your opinion about Bitcoin. Can be more profitable in coming days?

  • graceuponall's Avatar
    2 posts since Jan '18
    • It reminds me of the tech bubble.  There is a lot of froth right now with many speculators. But it is workable. So in the long run it will eventually gain more mainstream acceptance. But not before quite a number of people lose money in it first. My two cents' worth...

  • SG1131L's Avatar
    41 posts since Oct '17
    • Morgan Stanley says the true price of bitcoin might be zero

      http://www.businessinsider.sg/morgan-stanley-on-bitcoin-value-2017-12/?r=UK&IR=T

      Edited by SG1131L 04 Jan `18, 11:07PM
    • In other words, no, it will not be profitable. In fact, you will only lose money by investing in bitcoin, blue chip, futures, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, titanium or whatsoever financial product.

      There’s no such thing as free lunch. If you want money, you have to earn it, either by finding a job, or doing your own business.

      Investing in bitcoin all these is like doing a business. There must be demand for the supply that you have to meet equilibrium or make profit, otherwise you will lose money.

      Gotta say, my knowledge on banking and finance is very little. But anyway, if MAS (Monetary Authority Singapore), Morgan Stanley all that (reputable financial institution) say not advisable to invest in bitcoin, you better listen.

      Edited by SG1131L 04 Jan `18, 11:00PM
  • The Code's Avatar
    494 posts since Jul '14
  • Rozyfrdyse's Avatar
    20 posts since Dec '17
  • Alextrader79's Avatar
    79 posts since Jun '17
    • Well, so many reputable people keep saying that bitcoin is not worth investing, but ... the facts show us other things. It is still growing and lots of people across the globe use cryptocurrencies. I think that the answer to your question is obvious.

  • King Konggggg's Avatar
    1 post since Jan '18
    • I've been in the crytoworld for a year now. I've been doing well above my montly salary each month. SO yes. 

  • Queen of sgForums
    驚世駭俗醜不啦嘰 moderatress
    FireIce's Avatar
    265,316 posts since Dec '99
    • Can You Really Make Money Mining Bitcoins?

      If you want to join in the bitcoin frenzy without simply buying the digital currency at today's inflated prices, then bitcoin mining is another way to get involved. However, mining bitcoins does come with expenses -- and risks -- of its own. And the more popular bitcoins become, the harder it is to mine them profitably.

      What is bitcoin mining?

      Unlike paper currency, which is printed by governments and issued by banks, bitcoins do not come in any physical form. That creates a major risk, as hackers could theoretically create bitcoins from nothing. Bitcoin mining is how the bitcoin network keeps its transactions secure.

      Bitcoin transactions are secured by blockchains, which make up a public ledger of transactions. Because of how blockchain transactions are structured, they're extremely difficult to alter or compromise, even by the best hackers. But in order to secure these transactions, someone needs to dedicate computing power to verifying the activity and packaging the details in a block that goes into the bitcoin ledger. And that's precisely what bitcoin miners do. As a reward for doing the work to track and secure transactions, miners earn bitcoins for each block they successfully process.

      The bitcoin founders have set a limit of 21 million bitcoins available for mining. Once that total is reached, miners will still be able to benefit from transaction fees, but they won't be granted bitcoins as a reward for their work. As of mid-January 2018, approximately 16.8 million of those 21 million bitcoins have already been mined. Assuming the bitcoin mining industry doesn't change dramatically, it looks like we won't hit the 21 million-bitcoin limit until the year 2140.

      How to mine bitcoins

      During the early days of bitcoin mining, miners would often download a software package designed to allow their computers to process bitcoin transactions in the background. Unfortunately, that's no longer practical, because solving bitcoin transactions has become too difficult for your average computer to manage.

      The bitcoin network is designed to produce a certain number of new bitcoins every 10 minutes. If only a few people are bitcoin mining at any given time, then the network will be generous and share bitcoins readily in order to reach the predetermined number. But now that bitcoin mining has become so widespread, the network has become much stingier about handing out bitcoins to miners. In order to control how frequently bitcoins are generated, the network requires miners to solve more and more difficult problems to confirm transactions -- which means that miners must have more and more powerful equipment just to keep up. These days, in order to have a chance at being profitable, miners need to adopt one of two approaches: 1) buy specialized hardware (aka a bitcoin mining rig) or 2) join a cloud mining pool.

      Bitcoin mining hardware

      To get started with your own mining rig, you buy hardware designed for mining bitcoin (or some other virtual currency), set it up, and let it run 24/7 solving bitcoin transactions. Ideally, this will result in a steady flow of payments without your needing to get involved.

      While it's fairly easy to set up and use a bitcoin mining rig, actually making money on the process is something of a challenge. Because more and more people are signing up to mine bitcoins, the mining process continues to get more difficult and will likely keep doing so for some time. That means the hardware you bought last year to mine bitcoins probably won't be up to the job a year from now. And because bitcoin mining rigs aren't cheap -- expect to pay at least $1,000 for the hardware, or several times that for a top-quality rig -- having to replace it every year or two takes a huge bite out of any profits you make from mining. Plus, most mining rigs consume enormous amounts of electricity, so you also have to subtract that expense from the bitcoins you earn to determine your profits.

      Cloud mining

      If buying and maintaining your own mining hardware doesn't appeal to you, then cloud mining may be the way to go. Cloud mining companies invest in huge mining rigs, often filling entire data centers with the hardware, and then sell subscriptions to individuals interested in dipping a toe into bitcoin mining. Your subscription to a cloud mining company earns you a small percentage of the bitcoins that those mining rigs yield.

      The biggest challenge facing cloud mining subscribers is avoiding fraud. The field is rife with pseudo-companies that sell thousands of multiyear subscriptions, pay out for a few months, and then disappear into the sunset. If you decide to try cloud mining, do your homework in advance and confirm that the company you're dealing with is a real cloud miner and not a scheme. Preferably, you'd pick a cloud mining company that's been around for several years and has a decent reputation. Avoid companies with anonymous domain registration (you can look up their registration info at Network Solutions), as well as any mining company that "guarantees" profits or offers huge incentives for referring new customers; anything above a 10% referral commission is deeply suspicious, because legitimate mining pools simply don't generate a high enough profit margin to pay big commissions.

      If you find a legitimate cloud mining company, you'll still lose out on a portion of the bitcoins the company generates, as said company will take its cut from whatever profits it generates. Many cloud mining companies also charge a fee or deduct a percentage of your take to pay for maintenance, electricity, and other costs of doing business. And as bitcoin mining becomes more and more competitive, the returns you make from that multiyear subscription may sink to an unprofitable level.

      Bitcoin may or may not be at the top of a bubble, but bitcoin mining has definitely become much less profitable as more and more people get involved. You can help predict your profitability by using a bitcoin mining calculator to crunch the numbers, but even the best calculator can't tell you what the situation will be like in a few months or years. In short, getting involved in bitcoin mining today is a risky business. You might be able to make a fortune, but you're more likely to lose big.

       

      yahoo

    • Study Suggests 25 Percent of Bitcoin Users Are Associated With Illegal Activity

      In a newly published paper on the use of bitcoin for illegal activity, researchers from the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney and the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga indicate that a quarter of all bitcoin users are associated with illegal activity.

      The use of bitcoin for illicit purposes has long been the most controversial aspect of the cryptoasset, although it has taken a back seat to speculation around the bitcoin price over the past few years.

      In addition to estimating the scale of illegal activity involving bitcoin, the research paper also claims this sort of activity accounts for a significant portion of bitcoin’s intrinsic, underlying value.

      Methodology

      In the paper, which was co-authored by Sean Foley, Jonathon R. Karlsen and Tālis J. Putniņš, publicly available information is used as the basis to identify an initial sample of users involved in illegal activity on the Bitcoin blockchain. Seizures of bitcoin by law enforcement, hot wallets of darknet markets, and Bitcoin addresses on darknet forums are used here, in addition to the trade networks of users who were identified in this data set.

      Additionally, the researchers use a formula of their own creation to detect users likely to be involved in illegal activity by analyzing the entire public blockchain up until the end of April 2017. The formula for detecting criminals on the blockchain involves a wide variety of metrics such as transaction count, transaction size, frequency of transactions, number of counterparties, the number of darknet markets active at the time, the extent the user goes to conceal their activity and the degree of interest in bitcoin in terms of Google searches at the time.

      “Bitcoin users that are involved in illegal activity differ from other users in several characteristics,” the paper says. “Differences in transactional characteristics are generally consistent with the notion that while illegal users predominantly (or solely) use bitcoin as a payment system to facilitate trade in illegal goods/services, some legal users treat bitcoin as an investment or speculative asset. Specifically, illegal users tend to transact more, but in smaller transactions. They are also more likely to repeatedly transact with a given counterparty. Despite transacting more, illegal users tend to hold less bitcoin, consistent with them facing risks of having bitcoin holdings seized by authorities.”

      The paper also notes that bitcoin transactions between illegal users are three to four times denser, meaning those users are much more connected to each other through their transactions. This is consistent, the paper says, with illegal users taking advantage of bitcoin’s use as a medium of exchange, while legal users tend to view the cryptoasset as a store of value.

      The Scale of Illegal Activity on the Bitcoin Network

      As with any research into the activities of criminals on the internet, it’s important to take the findings of this study with a grain of salt. Remember, this is a study on the activities of those who do not wish their activities to be discovered in the first place.

      For example, another study Bitcoin Magazine reported on last week indicated a much lower level of illegal activity — albeit limited to the concept of bitcoin laundering — on the Bitcoin network than what was found in the study being reported on today.

      Having said that, here are the levels of illegal activity on the Bitcoin network, according to the study:



      The study compares Bitcoin’s black market to the markets for illegal drugs in the United States and Europe. In the United States, this market is worth $100 billion per year. In Europe, the market is 24 billion euros on an annual basis.

      “While comparisons between such estimates and ours are imprecise for a number of reasons (and the illegal activity captured by our estimates is broader than just illegal drugs), they do provide a sense that the scale of the illegal activity involving bitcoin is not only meaningful as a proportion of bitcoin activity, but also in absolute dollar terms,” the paper says.

      More Takeaways from the Paper

      While the amount of illegal activity taking place on the Bitcoin network appears to be relatively large, the paper indicates that the prevalence of this sort of activity has been declining since 2015 as more mainstream users have entered the market due to the interest in bitcoin as a store of value or speculative asset.

      The paper notes that the illegal activity involving bitcoin is inversely correlated to the number of searches for “bitcoin” on Google.

      “Furthermore, while the proportion of illegal bitcoin activity has declined, the absolute amount of such activity has continued to increase, indicating that the declining proportion is due to rapid growth in legal bitcoin use,” says the paper.

      The paper also indicates that privacy-focused altcoins, such as Monero and Zcash, may be cutting into bitcoin’s role as the currency of the online black market.

      The paper notes that it’s currently unclear if bitcoin is leading to an increase in black market activity or if this is simply offline activity moving onto the internet.

      “By providing an anonymous, digital method of payment, bitcoin did for darknet marketplaces what PayPal did for [eBay] — provide a reliable, scalable, and convenient payment mechanism,” the paper adds.

      According to the paper, this use case is the underlying value of the bitcoin asset.

      “Our paper contributes to understanding the intrinsic value of bitcoin, highlighting that a significant component of its value as a payment system derives from its use in facilitating illegal trade.”

      In addition to implications the online black market could have on the valuation of the bitcoin asset (a claim that is highly speculative as the bitcoin price has continued to see tremendous gains in the face of declining use for illicit payments), the paper adds that this realization also has ethical implications: those who choose to speculate on the bitcoin price may question whether they wish to provide liquidity for a payment system that enables illegal online transactions.

       

      • 24 million illicit users, which is 25 percent of all users
      • 36 million illicit transactions per year, which is 44 percent of all transactions
      • $72 billion worth of illicit transactions per year, which is 20 percent of the dollar-value of all transactions
      • $8 billion in illicit bitcoin holdings at the time of the study
      • 51 percent of all bitcoin holdings throughout bitcoin’s history have been illegal in nature

      This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

    • What the world's central banks are saying about cryptocurrencies

       

      Nine years since the birth of  Bitcoin, central banks around the world are increasingly recognizing the potential upsides – and downsides – of digital currencies.

      The guardians of the global economy have two sets of issues to address. First is what to do, if anything, about the growth of the private cryptocurrencies that are grabbing more and more attention for a host of reasons: security concerns after a $500 million exchange hack in Japan, volatile price moves and – in the case of Bitcoin, at least – their introduction on regulated derivatives exchanges. The second question is whether to issue official versions.

      Here’s a wrap-up of how the the world’s largest central banks (and some smaller ones) are approaching the crypto phenomenon:

      US: Privacy worry

      The Federal Reserve’s investigation into cryptocurrencies is in its early days, and policy makers haven’t been overtly enthusiastic about the idea of a central-bank issued answer to Bitcoin. Jerome Powell, a board member and nominee for chairman, said in 2017 that technical issues with the technology remain and “governance and risk management will be critical.” Powell said there are “meaningful” challenges to a central-bank cryptocurrency, that privacy issues could be a problem, and private-sector alternatives may do the job.

      Randal Quarles, vice chair for supervision at the Fed, said Dec. 1 while the central bank of the world’s biggest economy has no policy toward regulation of Bitcoin, it is “worth thinking about.” The volume of cryptocurrencies could at matter to monetary policy at some point, Powell said in answering a question at his Senate confirmation hearing in November. Right now, though, “they’re just not big enough,” he said.

      Euro area: Tulip-like

      The European Central Bank has repeatedly warned about the dangers of investing in digital currencies. Vice President Vitor Constancio said in September that Bitcoin isn’t a currency, but a “tulip” – alluding to the 17th-century bubble in the Netherlands. Colleague Benoit Coeure has warned about Bitcoin’s unstable value, saying its links to tax evasion and crime are major risks. ECB President Mario Draghi said in November that the impact of digital currencies on the euro-area economy was limited and they posed no threat to central banks’ monopoly on money.

      Even when compared to some of history’s biggest bubbles, Bitcoin is wild: read more

      China: Cracking down

      China has made it clear: the central bank has full control over cryptocurrencies. With a research team set up in 2014 to develop digital fiat money, the People’s Bank of China believes “conditions are ripe” for it to embrace the technology. But at the same time, the authorities are cracking down on Bitcoin mining and cryptocurrency trading. While there’s no formal start date for introducing digital currencies, China says going digital could help improve payment efficiency and allow more accurate control of currencies.

      Japan: Not needed

      Cash is still king in Japan, according to the head of the central bank’s FinTech Center. The Bank of Japan is not considering issuing a digital currency as there is “no demand” for it, Yuko Kawai said this month, noting the rise of cashless transactions remains a work in progress in the country. Authorities may be forced to take action on the sector, however, after nearly $500 million in digital tokens was stolen from the Coincheck Inc. exchange in Tokyo on Jan. 26.

      BOJ chief Haruhiko Kuroda said in December of Bitcoin that “if it’s a question of whether it’s functioning like currencies as a form of payment or means of settlement, I don’t think it is.” Bitcoin “is being traded for investing or for speculation,” he said. In October, he said the BOJ had no imminent plan to issue a digital currency, though it’s important to deepen knowledge about them. Taking such a step would involve revisiting “fundamental issues of central banking,” as it would effectively extend access to their accounts to the public.

      Germany: Investors beware

      In a country where a lot of people still prefer to pay in cash, the Bundesbank has been particularly wary of the emergence of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. President Jens Weidmann described Bitcoin’s move in December as having a “speculative character,” but for regulators, “just because investors can lose money isn’t a reason to get involved.” Board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said in September that a shift of deposits into blockchain would disrupt banks’ business models. At the same time, the Bundesbank has been actively studying the application of the technology in payment systems.

      UK: Potential ‘revolution’

      Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has cited cryptocurrencies as part of a potential “revolution” in finance. The central bank started a financial technology accelerator in 2016, a Silicon Valley practice aimed at incubating young companies. Carney says technology based on blockchain, the distributed accounting database, shows “great promise” in enabling central banks to strengthen their defenses against cyber-attacks and overhaul the way payments are made between institutions and consumers. He has nevertheless cautioned that the BOE is still a long way from from creating a digital version of sterling.

      France: ‘Dark side’

      Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said in June that French officials “advise great caution with respect to Bitcoin because there is no public institution behind it to provide confidence – in history all examples of private currencies ended badly.” Bitcoin has a “dark side,” he said, citing data attacks. Villeroy de Galhau has warned that people who use the cryptocurrency “do so at their own risk.”

      India: Not allowed

      India’s central bank is opposed to cryptocurrencies given that they can be a channel for money laundering and terrorist financing. Nevertheless, the Reserve Bank of India has a group studying whether digital currencies backed by global central banks can be used as legal tender. Currently, the use of cryptocurrencies is a violation of foreign-exchange rules.

      Singapore: Official warning

      Characterized – sometimes with pride – as a nanny state, Singapore has lived up to that label when it comes to cryptocurrencies, issuing an an official warning to citizens to be wary. The city-state’s monetary authority said in a Dec. 19 statement it “is concerned that members of the public may be attracted to invest” in them because of the surge in prices. Buyers should be aware “they run the risk of losing all their capital.” The authority pointed out that there’s no regulatory protection for investors, and urged citizens to report fraud suspicions related to cryptocurrencies to the police.

      Brazil: Support innovation

      The Banco Central do Brasil sees “no immediate risk for the Brazilian financial system” from cryptocurrencies, but remains alert to the developments in their usage, according to a statement issued in November. The central bank pledged “to support financial innovation, including new technologies that make the financial system safer and more efficient.”

      Canada: Asset-like

      Carolyn Wilkins, the Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor, is leading research on cryptocurrencies, and said in November that cryptocurrencies aren’t true forms of money. “This is really an asset, or a security, and so it should be treated that way,” Wilkins said. Like others, she viewed distributed-ledger technology as promising for making the financial system more efficient. BOC staff are also exploring the circumstances under which it might be appropriate for the bank to issue its own digital currency for retail transactions.

      South Korea: Crime watch

      Authorities in South Korea have focused on protecting consumers and preventing cryptocurrencies from being used as a tool of crime. While the government continues to weigh legislation to shut down cryptocurrency exchanges, the nation’s Financial Services Commission is setting up a special team to probe cryptocurrency trading. South Korea will begin a real-name account system for such trading on Jan. 30. Bank of Korea Deputy Governor Shin Ho-soon said in November more research and monitoring was needed. So many Koreans have embraced Bitcoin that the prime minister has warned cryptocurrencies might corrupt the nation’s youth.

      Russia: ‘Pyramid schemes’

      Russia’s central bank has expressed concern over potential risks from digital currencies, with Governor Elvira Nabiullina saying “we don’t legalize pyramid schemes” and “we are totally opposed to private money, no matter if it is in physical or virtual form.” For the moment, the Bank of Russia prefers to delay a decision on regulating the financial instruments unless President Vladimir Putin pushes for action sooner. The central bank will work with prosecutors to block websites that allow retail investors access to Bitcoin exchanges, according to Sergey Shvetsov, a deputy governor at the central bank. Speaking with reporters in January, Shvetsov said he didn’t see any demand for a cryptoruble as the regulator can’t afford to issue something that allows laws to be violated.

      Australia: Speculative mania

      Australia’s central bank chief criticized cryptocurrencies in a speech in Sydney Dec. 13, arguing the asset is more likely to appeal to criminals than consumers. “The current fascination with these currencies feels more like a speculative mania than it has to do with their use as an efficient and convenient form of electronic payment,” said Philip Lowe, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s governor. The bank is not planning to issue its own digital currency as a case hasn’t been made to do so, Lowe said. The RBA is in close contact with its peers in other countries and few see electronic banknotes on the horizon, he said.

      Turkey: Important element

      Digital currencies may contribute to financial stability if designed well, Turkish Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya said in Istanbul in November. But they do pose new risks to central banks, including to their control of money supply and price stability, and the transmission of monetary policy, Cetinkaya said. Even so, the Turkish central banker said that cryptocurrencies may be an important element for a cashless economy, and the technologies used can help speed up and make payment systems more efficient.

      Netherlands: Own cryptocurrency

      The Dutch have been among the most daring when it comes to experimenting with digital currencies. Two years ago the central bank created its own cryptocurrency called DNBcoin – for internal circulation only – to better understand how it works. Presenting the results in 2016, Ron Berndsen, who was in charge of the project, said blockchain may be “naturally applicable” in the settlement of complex financial transactions.

      Scandinavia: Exploring options

      Like the Dutch, some Nordic authorities have been keen to explore the idea of digital cash. Sweden’s Riksbank, the world’s oldest central bank, is probing options including a digital register-based e-krona, with balances in central-database accounts or with values stored in an app or on a card. The bank says the introduction of an e-krona poses “no major obstacles” to monetary policy.

      In an environment where the use of cash is decreasing, Norway’s Norges Bank is looking at  possibilities such as individual accounts at the central bank, plastic cards or an app to use for payments, it said in a May report. Denmark has backtracked somewhat on its initial enthusiasm, with Deputy Governor Per Callesen cautioning against central banks offering digital currencies directly to consumers. One argument is that such direct access to central bank liquidity could contribute to runs on commercial banks in times of crisis.

      New Zealand: Too unstable

      The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Acting Governor Grant Spencer has warned that Bitcoin’s runaway gains look like a speculative bubble. “Digital currencies, cryptocurrencies, are a real and serious proposition for the future,” Spencer said in a Dec. 10 interview with TVNZ. “I think they are part of the future, but not the sort that we see in Bitcoin.” The central bank, once a pioneer on the global stage with its early introduction of inflation targeting, said in an analytical note in November that it’s considering future plans for currency issuance and how digital units may fit into those strategies.

      Morocco: Violating law

      In one of the more strident reactions, Morocco has deemed that all transactions involving virtual currencies violate exchange regulations and are punishable by law. Cryptocurrencies amount to a hidden payment system not backed by any institution and involve significant risks for their users, authorities said in a statement in November.

      Bank for International Settlements: Can’t ignore

      The central bank for central banks has said that policy makers can’t ignore the growth of cryptocurrencies and will likely have to consider whether it makes sense for them to issue their own digital currencies at some point. “Bitcoin has gone from being an obscure curiosity to a household name,” the BIS said in September. One option is a currency available to the public, with only the central bank able to issue units that would be directly convertible to cash and reserves. There might be a greater risk of bank runs, however, and commercial lenders might face a shortage of deposits. Privacy could also be a concern.

      Agustin Carstens, the incoming head of the BIS, told Bloomberg that Bitcoin deserves close scrutiny. “Anything that grows in price as fast as Bitcoin has done it, without having a real clear understanding of what is behind it, should at least raise some eyebrows,” he said.

    • Blockchain’s broken promises  

       

      The financial-services industry has been undergoing a revolution. But the driving force is not overhyped blockchain applications such as Bitcoin. It is a revolution built on artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things.

      Already, thousands of real businesses are using these technologies to disrupt every aspect of financial intermediation. Dozens of online-payment services – PayPal, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Venmo, and so forth – have hundreds of millions of daily users.

      And financial institutions are making precise lending decisions in seconds rather than weeks, thanks to a wealth of online data on individuals and firms. With time, such data-driven improvements in credit allocation could even eliminate cyclical credit-driven booms and busts.

      Similarly, insurance underwriting, claims assessment and management, and fraud monitoring have all become faster and more precise. And actively managed portfolios are increasingly being replaced by passive robo-advisers, which can perform just as well or better than conflicted, high-fee financial advisers.

      Now, compare this real and ongoing fintech revolution with the record of blockchain, which has existed for almost a decade, and still has only one application: cryptocurrencies.

      Blockchain’s boosters would argue that its early days resemble the early days of the Internet, before it had commercial applications. But that comparison is simply false. Whereas the Internet quickly gave rise to email, the World Wide Web, and millions of viable commercial ventures used by billions of people, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin do not even fulfill their own stated purpose.

      As a currency, Bitcoin should be a serviceable unit of account, means of payments, and a stable store of value. It is none of those things.

      No one prices anything in Bitcoin. Few retailers accept it. And it is a poor store of value, because its price can fluctuate by 20-30 per cent in a single day.

      Worse, cryptocurrencies in general are based on a false premise. According to its promoters, Bitcoin has a steady-state supply of 21 million units, so it cannot be debased like fiat currencies.

      But that claim is clearly fraudulent, considering that it has already forked off into three branches: Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Gold. Besides, hundreds of other cryptocurrencies are invented every day, alongside scams known as “initial coin offerings,” which are mostly designed to skirt securities laws.

      So “stable” cryptos are creating money supply and debasing it at a much faster pace than any major central bank ever has.

      As is typical of a financial bubble, investors are buying cryptocurrencies not to use in transactions, but because they expect them to increase in value. Indeed, if someone actually wanted to use Bitcoin, they would have a hard time doing so.

      It is so energy-intensive (and thus environmentally toxic) to produce, and carries such high transaction costs, that even Bitcoin conferences do not accept it as a valid form of payment.

      Until now, Bitcoin’s only real use has been to facilitate illegal activities such as drug transactions, tax evasion, avoidance of capital controls, or money laundering.

      Not surprisingly, G20 member states are now working together to regulate cryptocurrencies and eliminate the anonymity they supposedly afford, by requiring that all income- or capital-gains-generating transactions be reported.

      After a crackdown by Asian regulators this month, cryptocurrency values fell by 50 per cent from their December peak. They would have collapsed much more had a vast scheme to prop up their price via outright manipulation not been rapidly implemented. But, like in the case of the sub-prime bubble, most United States regulators are still asleep at the wheel.

      Since the invention of money thousands of years ago, there has never been a monetary system with hundreds of different currencies operating alongside one another.

      The entire point of money is that it allows parties to transact without having to barter. But for money to have value, and to generate economies of scale, only so many currencies can operate at the same time.

      In the US, the reason we do not use euros or yen in addition to dollars is obvious: doing so would be pointless, and it would make the economy far less efficient. The idea that hundreds of cryptocurrencies could viably operate together not only contradicts the very concept of money; it is utterly idiotic.

      But so, too, is the idea that even a single cryptocurrency could substitute for fiat money. Cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value, whereas fiat currencies certainly do, because they can be used to pay taxes.

      Fiat currencies are also protected from value debasement by central banks committed to price stability; and if a fiat currency loses credibility, as in some weak monetary systems with high inflation, it will be swapped out for more stable foreign fiat currencies or real assets.

      As it happens, Bitcoin’s supposed advantage is also its Achilles’s heel, because even if it actually did have a steady-state supply of 21 million units, that would disqualify it as a viable currency.

      Unless the supply of a currency tracks potential nominal GDP, prices will undergo deflation.

      That means if a steady-state supply of Bitcoin really did gradually replace a fiat currency, the price index of all goods and services would continuously fall. By extension, any nominal debt contract denominated in Bitcoin would rise in real value over time, leading to the kind of debt deflation that economist Irving Fisher believed precipitated the Great Depression.

      At the same time, nominal wages in Bitcoin would increase forever in real terms, regardless of productivity growth, adding further to the likelihood of an economic disaster.

      Clearly, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies represent the mother of all bubbles, which explains why every human being I met between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2017 asked me if they should buy them.

      Scammers, swindlers, charlatans, and carnival barkers (all conflicted insiders) have tapped into clueless retail investors’ FOMO (“fear of missing out”), and taken them for a ride.

      As for the underlying blockchain technology, there are still massive obstacles standing in its way, even if it has more potential than cryptocurrencies. Chief among them is that it lacks the kind of basic common and universal protocols that made the Internet universally accessible (TCP-IP, HTML, and so forth). More fundamentally, its promise of decentralised transactions with no intermediary authority amounts to an untested, Utopian pipedream. No wonder blockchain is ranked close to the peak of the hype cycle of technologies with inflated expectations.

      So, forget about blockchain, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, and start investing in fintech firms with actual business models, which are slogging away to revolutionise the financial-services industry. You won’t get rich overnight; but you’ll have made the smarter investment. PROJECT SYNDICATE

       

      ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

      Nouriel Roubini is Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University, and CEO of Roubini Macro Associates.

       

      todayonline

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