Bitcoin: The Blush Market
The blush market is comprised of all potentially embarrassing goods and services. Porn probably tops the list as does pretty much any good or service related to sex. It is in that market that bitcoin will find its greatest utility first. Sure, you’d like to review the latest cinemagraphic masterpiece by the legendary erotic producer Dandy York. Yes, you’d much rather watch it in HD instead of perusing free, low quality three-minute clips. But no, there’s no way you’re going to give your credit card number to the seedy slime balls proffering such filth. You don’t even like taking your computer to that smutty URL. You only surf there when the house is empty, the curtains are drawn and the door is locked. You delete your browser history when you’re through, too. Of course you do.
What to do? Bitcoin to the rescue! It’s not a perfectly private solution, but it’s good enough at first blush. Sure, it’s possible those late-night transactions could be tangentially related back to you but it is pretty unlikely anyone would go to all the trouble to analyze such transactions down to a likely source account. It’s hard to even imagine a scenario where anyone would bother going that route to slime you; much easier routes exist if people are that determined. Unlikely too they’d be able to prove anything; at best they’d have a probable relationship rather than hard evidence. It could be a slight risk if you happened to be running for president and a ton of reporters employ a team of analysts to fine-tooth-comb every dark corner of your whole life looking for the tiniest crumb of dirt, but if you’re less public than that, you’re pretty safe.
Okay, some people might have a problem with bitcoins being used for that. Maybe a few righteous-minded, principle-driven, pure-as-the-driven-snow bitcoin idealists would rather bitcoins be used for more honorable purposes. Maybe they’d rather bitcoins not be associated with such ugly undercurrents. Well, too bad, they don’t get to decide that. The market will decide that. We already know (or should know) that bitcoin is not a really smart choice for the darker black market enterprises; where finding the transaction relationships might be worthwhile to a determined law enforcement agency. Sure, not even a careful analysis is bound to prove beyond doubt that you’re connected with any given illegal transaction or group thereof, but it would be enough to get warrants where they could get more; it can put them on your trail.
And so, bitcoin is going to find its own moral level of utility. I’m not saying it won’t find utility in higher-browed markets and some grayer markets too, it clearly already has. I just think it is going to be a long time before we see a bitcoin payment logo as standard fare on mainstream merchant sites. But I do predict that payment logo will soon be ubiquitous to those that turn Google Safe-search off.