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Author Topic: A Stable Bitcoin Exchange Service  (Read 2749 times)
giarc
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October 20, 2011, 03:52:17 PM
 #21

So they buy a bitcoin with a note of credit, really what they are buying is a new currency (your note of credit) with a small token bitcoin tagged on. This kinda removes the whole point of bitcoin being decentralised why not use usd as the holder of your notes cant tell if you are buying off the market and issuing more credit notes for profit.

The new exchange would add massive counterparty risk in my opinion which is the major incentive for using bitcoin.

Essentially you are correct, but this would all happen automatically under the hood of the merchant API. The end user need not understand that they are buying a promissory note, or transferring it along with their bitcoin via the API. All they need to have is an account with the exchange and some fiat funds.

I get that there is counterparty risk involved, but by making the system transparent and posting realtime statistics, trust could be slowly established. There could not be more guarantee-credits available than there is fiat funds to back them up. Merchants would cash them in immediately. They do not need to exist for very long. As long as both the reserve total and total guarantee credits issued is published in realtime, this will help negate the risk.

But we would only have the exchanges word that they weren't issuing more credit notes it would be impossible to check, and as the value of the note plus the bitcoin would (if everything worked) never change relative to the dollar (providing the change in bitcoin price wasn't greater than the value of the note) you might just as well hold usd which is far more liquid and by definition is less risky.

The fact that the bitcoin price might overrun the note could also be a problem because as the volatility rose the risk associated with this special currency would rise making it beneficial to the purchaser of the currency to ask for more to cancel the risk premium involved. This would mean the value of the currency could fluctuate especially if rumours came out about the exchange itself.

With pure bitcoins the risks are real but visible and observable, with this the risk is still there but harder to quantify and measure as it lies within the exchange and the volatility in the bitcoin itself.

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mjcmurfy
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October 20, 2011, 04:07:44 PM
 #22

But we would only have the exchanges word that they weren't issuing more credit notes it would be impossible to check, and as the value of the note plus the bitcoin would (if everything worked) never change relative to the dollar (providing the change in bitcoin price wasn't greater than the value of the note) you might just as well hold usd which is far more liquid and by definition is less risky.

The fact that the bitcoin price might overrun the note could also be a problem because as the volatility rose the risk associated with this special currency would rise making it beneficial to the purchaser of the currency to ask for more to cancel the risk premium involved. This would mean the value of the currency could fluctuate especially if rumours came out about the exchange itself.

With pure bitcoins the risks are real but visible and observable, with this the risk is still there but harder to quantify and measure as it lies within the exchange and the volatility in the bitcoin itself.

When you deposit bitcoin or fiat money into an exchange right now, you STILL only have the word of the exchange that it is actually there. I understand that there is risk in the system I propose, but there is just as much risk of the existing exchanges doing the same thing, letting people play with bitcoins and cash that are not even really there in the first place. How do we know MtGox doesn't operate on a fractional reserve basis? How do we know if there was a run on MtGox tomorrow they would have enough funds to cover all fiat and bitcoin deposits? We don't, but thousands of people still use the service because they trust them. It is all about establishing trust. If the merchants are able to withdraw fiat on a consistent basis, they will trust the service and keep using it.

You mention about the bitcoin price overrunning the note. Yes, it is possible, but we can make it incredibly unlikely to happen. How much fiat would it take to cause the floating rate of btc to reach $100? We can't even sustain it at $2 right now for crying out loud. There is not enough liquidity coming into the market. Software could be created to monitor the market rate and alert if the floating rate is reaching the static price, and alter it appropriately for subsequent transactions. It doesn't matter if the rate fluctuates, because consumers will just buy a different amount of bitcoin and send a corresponding promissory note. The merchant will still get the same amount of fiat in the end.

Yes with bitcoin the risks are observable. So observable in fact that it might as well slap you in the face, kick you in the nuts and call your mother a whore laughing all the while. No merchant in their right mind would be willing to take these risks if they are operating on slim margins to begin with. We need to think about what is best for the bitcoin economy, not make it trivially easy for currency speculators to take advantage of gullible people.

There is some risk yes, but this risk seems to me to pale in comparison to the level of risk merchants and consumers are already taking.

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mjcmurfy
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October 20, 2011, 04:57:14 PM
 #23

Ok, so from what I can understand, you want to create options and the means to easily (automatically) transfer the contracts. I will not comment on the sustainability of such a system, which I doubt for the moment, but I think it can be made to work.

My question is this: why would anyone want to transfer the put contract, too? Why would someone voluntarily give up his protection? Because, in the end, that's what an option is...

I see this scenario to be common: user Joe exchanges 300 USD for 100 BTC+ the put contract for 100 USD @ 3 USD. He buys stuff, maybe he also gets some coins by selling. He will keep the contract until he will want to exchange his coins to USD. If the exchange rate is higher than the contract, he will sell at spot price and be happy. If the exchange is lower than the contract, he will exchange 100 BTC at 3 and the rest at spot. If he doesn't have 100 BTC, he will buy at spot and use his option for some quick profit.

Well, what I had in mind is not QUITE the same as an options market. It is more about ensuring that a merchant who is offering a good/service can exchange the coin back for the promised amount, not the buyer of the coin.

Lets say I want to send you $50. I buy 0.5 btc @ $100/coin and get a promissory note for 0.5 btc to be exchanged for $50. I send you the 0.5 btc along with the promissory note, which you can then use to trade the 0.5 btc back for $50. Without the note, you would not be able to otherwise trade the coin back for the amount promised. It would be a point of sale transaction only. Once you have spent the coins, why do you still need the guarantee? It is the person who you sent the coins to who would need it then.

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runeks
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October 20, 2011, 11:18:11 PM
 #24

As far as I can figure out, there is no reason to use this system instead of just transferring USD. What would the advantage be?

Adam living in the US would deposit $1000 from his bank account to this not-for-profit exchange, and he buys 10 BTC for $100 each and gets his "$1000 for 10 BTC guarantee" with the BTCs. He then transfers the BTCs plus the $1000 guarantee to John living in England. John transfers the 10 BTCs he has received to his not-for-profit account and exercises his $1000 guarantee, thus selling the 10 BTC for $1000, and he now has $1000 in his not-for-profit exchange account. He now withdraws these BTCs from the exchange account to his bank account. Net effect: $1000 from Adam's bank account to John's bank account. Why even get involved with Bitcoins, just do a bank transfer.

The only way this not-for-profit exchange would be better is if one existed in every country, and it could pay out without any fees to a bank account in that country. That way the guarantees could be transferred between the not-for-profit exchanges in various countries, and we could avoid the bank transfer fees between countries.
Dan The Man
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October 20, 2011, 11:27:14 PM
 #25

You are just talking about a bank that uses bitcoins instead of internal book keeping and takes up the additional risk of bitcoin price fluxuation. It's like if your bank issued you special gold nuggets at 100x the price of gold instead of a checkbook.

mjcmurfy
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October 20, 2011, 11:32:36 PM
 #26

Why even get involved with Bitcoins, just do a bank transfer.

Well, this is the question, isn't it? Why do people want to exchange bitcoin for USD and vice vera? I don't know, but they do. And they do it stupidly. You do realize that your argument could equally be applied to the existing exchanges? At least what I am suggesting attempts to ensure that those who want to use it for legitimate and productive commerce aren't taken for a ride by speculators, who contribute absolutely nothing and just siphon value from the former.

It's like if your bank issued you special gold nuggets at 100x the price of gold instead of a checkbook.

... with the promise to buy it back again for the same price. What is your point?

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runeks
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October 20, 2011, 11:46:14 PM
 #27

Yeah basically. Except there's no risk with regards to Bitcoin price fluctuation since it isn't really the Bitcoins that get you USD, it's the transferable guarantees that gets you USD (the Bitcoins you can always buy elsewhere if you wish).

But the large amount of time and money it'd take to create a system like this makes me believe it would never come into existence in a not-for-profit form.

Why even get involved with Bitcoins, just do a bank transfer.

Well, this is the question, isn't it? Why do people want to exchange bitcoin for USD?
People buy Bitcoins because they can be transferred to a person on the other side of the globe for a low fee almost instantaneously. You can't do this with USD.
If at the same time an exchange exists in both the receiver's and the sender's country, they can withdraw and deposit funds at low fees, thus saving the fee of a bank transfer to the other side of the globe.

So unless your suggestion is implemented in multiple countries world wide, I see no advantage to it over a bank transfer of USD. And even if it was, the real issue would be transferring the USD between the not-for-profit exchanges in various countries. This would still cost money, and thus - unless the not-for-profit exchanges can find a cheaper way to transfer USD to another country - hold no advantage over a USD bank transfer.
MoonShadow
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October 20, 2011, 11:53:00 PM
 #28

So they buy a bitcoin with a note of credit, really what they are buying is a new currency (your note of credit) with a small token bitcoin tagged on. This kinda removes the whole point of bitcoin being decentralised why not use usd as the holder of your notes cant tell if you are buying off the market and issuing more credit notes for profit.

The new exchange would add massive counterparty risk in my opinion which is the major incentive for using bitcoin.

Essentially you are correct, but this would all happen automatically under the hood of the merchant API. The end user need not understand that they are buying a promissory note, or transferring it along with their bitcoin via the API. All they need to have is an account with the exchange and some fiat funds.

I get that there is counterparty risk involved, but by making the system transparent and posting realtime statistics, trust could be slowly established. There could not be more guarantee-credits available than there is fiat funds to back them up. Merchants would cash them in immediately. They do not need to exist for very long. As long as both the reserve total and total guarantee credits issued is published in realtime, this will help negate the risk.

You guys do understand that there is no bitcoin 'token' to transfer, don't you?

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

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mjcmurfy
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October 20, 2011, 11:55:36 PM
 #29

People buy Bitcoins because they can be transferred to a person on the other side of the globe for a low fee almost instantaneously. You can't do this with USD.
If at the same time an exchange exists in both the receiver's and the sender's country, they can withdraw and deposit funds at low fees, thus saving the fee of a bank transfer to the other side of the globe.

So unless your suggestion is implemented in multiple countries world wide, I see no advantage to it over a bank transfer of USD. And even if it was, the real issue would be transferring the USD between the not-for-profit exchanges in various countries. This would still cost money, and thus - unless the not-for-profit exchanges can find a cheaper way to transfer USD to another country - hold no advantage over a USD bank transfer.

But the flaw with this argument is that this also applies to the existing exchanges too. They still manage to operate across international borders, albeit not very well. International transfers are still problematic for the exchanges, as like you said, they have to operate in multiple economic zones to be able to work smoothly.

This problem already exists, and is not something that the system I propose would worsen. I live in Ireland, and know first hand the problems associated with it. The euro market is even smaller than the USD one, and now you have to worry about the value of the USD if you are paying for prices linked to the dollar, as well as the value of the EUR and how many bitcoin it can buy you, AND the value of the bitcoin itself once you have managed to obtain one. It's a bloody nightmare.

Maybe it doesn't have to be a non-profit service, if it was worthwhile then I'm sure merchants and consumers alike would be willing to pay a fee for the stability that the service provides. I don't know. I have absolutely no intention of setting this up, this is purely a thought experiment that will hopefully get people thinking more about these issues.

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mjcmurfy
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October 20, 2011, 11:58:55 PM
 #30

You guys do understand that there is no bitcoin 'token' to transfer, don't you?

I'm not sure what 'bitcoin token' you are referring to, but if you mean the guarantee credit I was talking about, I meant that this would be transferred to the merchant's exchange account, external to the bitcoin system itself, but all taken care of automatically by the merchant API.

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runeks
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October 21, 2011, 12:11:51 AM
 #31

People buy Bitcoins because they can be transferred to a person on the other side of the globe for a low fee almost instantaneously. You can't do this with USD.
If at the same time an exchange exists in both the receiver's and the sender's country, they can withdraw and deposit funds at low fees, thus saving the fee of a bank transfer to the other side of the globe.

So unless your suggestion is implemented in multiple countries world wide, I see no advantage to it over a bank transfer of USD. And even if it was, the real issue would be transferring the USD between the not-for-profit exchanges in various countries. This would still cost money, and thus - unless the not-for-profit exchanges can find a cheaper way to transfer USD to another country - hold no advantage over a USD bank transfer.

This problem [international transfers] already exists, and is not something that the system I propose would worsen.
I am well aware of that. I'm not suggesting your proposed system would worsen anything; just that it wouldn't improve on anything.

Maybe it doesn't have to be a non-profit service, if it was worthwhile then I'm sure merchants and consumers would be willing to pay a fee for the stability that the service provides. I don't know. I have absolutely no intention of setting this up, this is purely a thought experiment that will hopefully get people thinking more about these issues.
I still fail to see how your proposed idea is superior to a simple USD transfer. Why convert to Bitcoins in any step of the process if you don't want to risk it going down?
A redeemable Mt. Gox code in USD does what you suggest, I think. Both users create an Mt. Gox account, one deposits $1000 to his account, creates a redeemable Mt. Gox code and sends it to the other person who cashes it in, gets $1000 in his Mt. Gox account, and withdraws them. Doesn't this have the exact same use as what you're suggesting - without getting involved with Bitcoins?

As far as I can tell, the real issue is transferring the USD, not the Bitcoins. Whether a not-for-profit exchange, a regular exchange, or even a regular bank does this, seems irrelevant to me.
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October 21, 2011, 12:15:09 AM
 #32

This system is mainly for merchant use. I mean for it to be more like a point of sale type transaction, rather than a way for people to buy and sell bitcoin proper. This is necessary to get legitimate business on board with the bitcoin system, as many will not touch it in its current form for all the reasons already outlined.

Businesses don't give a crap about the bitcoin in the end, as they will exchange it for the currency that they need to pay their bills in. Yet, we still need them on board to ensure that bitcoin economy can grow successfully. In order to attract them, we NEED exchange rate stability.

I can't think of any other way to achieve it that doesn't involve some type of overbearing central-bank type institution. Thats probably why they exist in the first place. I think if we mean to continue with the exchange of bitcoin for other fiat currencies, something like this is going to have to evolve or else it will fail over and over again.

Maybe what I am suggesting is not up to scratch, but does anyone have a better idea?

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runeks
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October 21, 2011, 12:22:35 AM
 #33

IMO, if a business doesn't want to expose itself to the fluctuating exchange rate of BTC to USD, don't buy BTCs. Just keep all transactions in USD; complete exchange rate stability.

What I am saying is that your suggested payment system is no more than a transferal of USD, with Bitcoins going along with the USD for no good reason.
Ie. it is the transfer of the "guarantee credit" (which is in USD) that is the issue. Transferring Bitcoins along with it does not make that easier.
mjcmurfy
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October 21, 2011, 12:26:08 AM
 #34

IMO, if a business doesn't want to expose itself to the fluctuating exchange rate of BTC to USD, don't buy BTCs. Just keep all transactions in USD; complete exchange rate stability.

So we should alienate the very people we NEED in order to make the project successful? Great idea.

What I am saying is that your suggested payment system is no more than a transferal of USD, with Bitcoins going along with the USD for no good reason.

What I am saying is that this is already the case.
Business don't care about the bitcoin. They care about paying their bills and their taxes.
We need price stability, or else we're screwed.

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runeks
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October 21, 2011, 12:38:08 AM
 #35

IMO, if a business doesn't want to expose itself to the fluctuating exchange rate of BTC to USD, don't buy BTCs. Just keep all transactions in USD; complete exchange rate stability.
So we should alienate the very people we NEED in order to make the project successful? Great idea.
We don't need people who can't accept fluctuations in the exchange rate of Bitcoins. Thank God, or we'd be screwed! We just need an increase in the number of merchants that provide goods and services in exchange for Bitcoins.
I believe this can only happen slowly, one step at a time. IMO there is no quick fix to this chicken-and-egg problem.

What I am saying is that your suggested payment system is no more than a transferal of USD, with Bitcoins going along with the USD for no good reason.

What I am saying is that this is already the case.
Business don't care about the bitcoin. They care about paying their bills and their taxes.
We need price stability, or else we're screwed.
The fact that we even need to worry about the transferal of USD is the problem IMO. If people only want to use Bitcoins as a way to transfer USD, Bitcoins hasn't succeeded as a currency
I think price stability will come with increasing size, a $15 million asset is bound to be volatile. Just look at small cap stocks.
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October 21, 2011, 12:45:28 AM
 #36

We don't need people who can't accept fluctuations in the exchange rate of Bitcoins. Thank God, or we'd be screwed! We just need an increase in the number of merchants that provide goods and services in exchange for Bitcoins.
I believe this can only happen slowly, one step at a time. IMO there is no quick fix to this chicken-and-egg problem.

The fact that we even need to worry about the transferal of USD is the problem IMO. If people only want to use Bitcoins as a way to transfer USD, Bitcoins hasn't succeeded as a currency
I think price stability will come with increasing size, a $15 million asset is bound to be volatile. Just look at small cap stocks.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on both points.

But the problem is that we DO have people here who want to be able to accept bitcoin as payment, but cannot tolerate fluctuations in the exchange rate as they pay all of their expenses in fiat currencies. They have tried, and got their fingers burned. They won't be eager to try again until some semblance of stability is achieved.

Once people have a guarantee that their bitcoin value is safe, they may become less likely to want to exchange it for fiat currency. What I am trying to suggest is a means of providing people with this safety, and slowing winning them over to the idea of conducting 100% of their business in bitcoin. Like you said, it's a chicken and egg problem, but we still have to figure out a way of getting from where we are now, to what we all hope is the case in the future.

We can then laugh about how ridiculous it was to even think about converting our precious bitcoin into worthless fiat.

Lets hope you are right about the stability coming with more market capital. Looking at the state of global economic affairs today though, I am not brimming with confidence. Thats what we have been thinking since the 70's and look where it has got us.

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October 21, 2011, 01:04:00 AM
 #37

We don't need people who can't accept fluctuations in the exchange rate of Bitcoins. Thank God, or we'd be screwed! We just need an increase in the number of merchants that provide goods and services in exchange for Bitcoins.
I believe this can only happen slowly, one step at a time. IMO there is no quick fix to this chicken-and-egg problem.

The fact that we even need to worry about the transferal of USD is the problem IMO. If people only want to use Bitcoins as a way to transfer USD, Bitcoins hasn't succeeded as a currency
I think price stability will come with increasing size, a $15 million asset is bound to be volatile. Just look at small cap stocks.
But the problem is that we DO have people here who want to be able to accept bitcoin as payment, but cannot tolerate fluctuations in the exchange rate as they pay all of their expenses in fiat currencies. They have tried, and got their fingers burned. They won't be eager to try again until some semblance of stability is achieved.
I agree with you that the fluctuations in Bitcoin prices aren't desirable, but I really think that put options are better handled by the market than by a supposedly benign exchange that does it to stabilize the price of Bitcoins.
In essence, I think any single entity doing anything to stabilize the price of Bitcoins is futile. Only an increase in the price of Bitcoins (resulting from an increase in the utility of Bitcoins) will bring about this stability. Bitcoins recently went from $5 to $2.5. When, or if, Bitcoins hit $50 per coin, they will be more unlikely to suddenly drop to $25. And when, or if, they hit $500 they'll be more unlikely to suddenly drop to $250. And so on.
That will be the self-reinforcing solution that we need, and I think it will happen very slowly, and there's not much we can do to change that (unless we have large amounts of cash we are willing to use).

[...]
Like you said, it's a chicken and egg problem, but we still have to figure out a way of getting from where we are now, to what we all hope is the case in the future.
I guess I'm more inclined on not doing much, except letting the market work slowly but steadily towards using Bitcoins as a currency.
In the end I believe the issue of volatility will solve itself, if Bitcoins prove useful for trading.

Now I'm tired and I will go to bed. Good night Smiley.
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October 21, 2011, 01:06:42 AM
 #38

The proposal is the equivalent of a central bank that pegs Bitcoin to the USD, only in an automated fashion via third-party exchange. There is no need for this. While the idea of stability is nice, the suggestion highlights misconceptions about capital flows.

USD has fluctuated by about 11.2% over the past 90 days (~7.5% up, ~3.7% down). The Australian dollar has ranged approximately 20.8% during the same time period (~12.1% down, ~8.7% up). Both have central banks. Price stability does not exist anywhere right now. It won't exist for Bitcoin unless items are valued in Bitcoins. Attaching the price of Bitcoin to the USD in any form simply introduces USD volatility into the Bitcoin economy for all currencies other than USD/BTC.

Volatility in BTC valuation in relation to USD (and other currencies) is a result of the size of the market. It is not a deficiency in the Bitcoin system. USD is much larger than Bitcoin, so minute flows of USD into Bitcoin will cause major fluctuations in Bitcoin value with no discernible impact on USD. The same principle applies to gold and silver. There is no need for a central bank to manage precious metals, either.

In addition, present inflation of the Bitcoin unit base through block generation will cause individual BTCs to devalue by an amount relative to the increase until the asymptote is approached. If this were an experiment conducted in a completely closed and controlled economy of static size and using only Bitcoins for exchange, BTCs would still be depreciating in value in proportion to the block generation rate.

The currency with the best balance of convenience and functionality will win. Bitcoin is still in its infancy. If you want price stability, increase adoption by making Bitcoin accessibility and use easier. Everything else follows growth, as runeks suggested, including relative price stability. The Bitcoin system will live and die based on its structural merits and deficiencies, not its exchange rate compared to other currencies.

Speculation on open exchanges facilitates price discovery and stability. Central banks, which are essentially dark pools, introduce distortions that lead to pricing displacement and instability.

But the problem is that we DO have people here who want to be able to accept bitcoin as payment, but cannot tolerate fluctuations in the exchange rate as they pay all of their expenses in fiat currencies. They have tried, and got their fingers burned. They won't be eager to try again until some semblance of stability is achieved.

...

Lets hope you are right about the stability coming with more market capital. Looking at the state of global economic affairs today though, I am not brimming with confidence. Thats what we have been thinking since the 70's and look where it has got us.

Fluctuations in relation to another currency are not Bitcoin's concern. How many more people are there who got started when the rate was <$1 per BTC? They haven't been burned. Did people who bought gold at $1,900/oz get "burned"? What about those buying USD three weeks ago?

Yes, runeks is right. Just be patient - these things move on scales much greater than people can easily perceive.
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October 21, 2011, 01:46:33 AM
 #39

An excellent post with many valid points. My knowledge of economics is, admittedly, far from academic. I am the first to admit that. But watching this tragedy unfold and sitting back in my chair thinking "these things operate on different timescales" and "this problem will solve itself", well, that is just not credible and is a shrugging-off of responsibility. I mean, I would happily do that if I believed that bitcoin was a self-organising system that obeys the laws of evolution and natural selection, but that is not what it is. Not yet at least.

It relies on us irrational humans as actors to take market information and make decisions based on it to refine the system. Right now, the market is telling us that we need to fix a problem, otherwise the bubble would not have occurred. The currency itself will not just serendipitously stumble upon the answer without people discussing ideas and making subsequent improvements to the system. No amount of extra fiat in the market will solve the problem, because it is the exchange of bitcoin and fiat currency that is causing these problems in the first place.

Without attracting more businesses to use bitcoin, there will be no growth in the economy and thus no stability will emerge. Speculation will not get us stability, just cycles of bursting bubbles and bad PR. Like you said, other currencies that operate this way can not guarantee price stability, and the only way forward is to price in bitcoin. We cannot get to that point until more merchants accept bitcoin, but in order for that to happen, some type of "transient safety net" must be put in place to win people over to pricing solely in bitcoin. I mean, we have to be realistic about it.

Maybe enough capital will provide a transient period of stability, but what happens when the capital inflow begins to dry up again? What is to prevent another slow-motion market crash all the way back down to the bottom, leaving a lot of unwitting people holding the bag. Maybe I'm completely wrong, I'll admit it, but I don't see any semblance of stability emerging any time soon without putting some sort of means of modulating the system in place.

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October 21, 2011, 04:20:08 AM
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An excellent post with many valid points. My knowledge of economics is, admittedly, far from academic. I am the first to admit that. But watching this tragedy unfold and sitting back in my chair thinking "these things operate on different timescales" and "this problem will solve itself", well, that is just not credible and is a shrugging-off of responsibility. I mean, I would happily do that if I believed that bitcoin was a self-organising system that obeys the laws of evolution and natural selection, but that is not what it is. Not yet at least.

Is it a tragedy, or growing pains?

Bitcoin is self-regulating. It won't survive without participation, but the concepts behind it attract participants regardless of momentary value - they have vision enough to see the potential value. It's hard for many to see that potential. My miners have been running non-stop through the entire decline so far, yet many have thrown in the towel. Fine with me, I got a block from solo mining.

Patience comes into play when remembering this saying: you can lead a horse to water...

It relies on us irrational humans as actors to take market information and make decisions based on it to refine the system. Right now, the market is telling us that we need to fix a problem, otherwise the bubble would not have occurred. The currency itself will not just serendipitously stumble upon the answer without people discussing ideas and making subsequent improvements to the system. No amount of extra fiat in the market will solve the problem, because it is the exchange of bitcoin and fiat currency that is causing these problems in the first place.

The problem has been fixed: a potential bubble grew and burst quickly. Self-correcting/regulating. It wasn't Bitcoin's doing, but a pattern of behavior that emerged from individuals participating in a functioning market.

Without attracting more businesses to use bitcoin, there will be no growth in the economy and thus no stability will emerge. Speculation will not get us stability, just cycles of bursting bubbles and bad PR. Like you said, other currencies that operate this way can not guarantee price stability, and the only way forward is to price in bitcoin. We cannot get to that point until more merchants accept bitcoin, but in order for that to happen, some type of "transient safety net" must be put in place to win people over to pricing solely in bitcoin. I mean, we have to be realistic about it.

Chicken & egg. The Bitcoin economy can still grow without increasing business activity. Its cash equivalency will be valued, particularly as situations such as Louisiana banning cash transactions develop. If there are paperwork barriers introduced to using paper cash, you can bet people will opt for a more convenient option that doesn't involve paperwork. Convenience trumps decree.

Imagine capital controls on money transported across borders being tightened. If I'm limited to $1,000 and I want to bring $25,000 with me, I can risk jail time and/or potentially significant fines - or I could use Bitcoin, which provides an ideal solution. Some of the funds that flow into Bitcoin for purposes of escaping totalitarian regimes will remain in the Bitcoin economy. There are a number of nations that have no restrictions on usage of whatever money an individual chooses.

Bitcoin's "killer app" may be one that is considered illegal by (absurd) official decree in some jurisdictions.

Maybe enough capital will provide a transient period of stability, but what happens when the capital inflow begins to dry up again? What is to prevent another slow-motion market crash all the way back down to the bottom, leaving a lot of unwitting people holding the bag. Maybe I'm completely wrong, I'll admit it, but I don't see any semblance of stability emerging any time soon without putting some sort of means of modulating the system in place.

The same thing that happens in any other currency: the ebb and flow occurs within a range as market participants in aggregate reach points where they consider Bitcoin to be over- or undervalued. I think we've approached or entered the range in which long-time Bitcoin users feel comfortable - the rise was too high, too quick and the same applied to the decline. At the ~$2 range, BTC is now about in-line with where the gradual inflow would be had the spike never occurred.

Your fears are well-grounded. It is possible that Bitcoin could fall to $0.01 or even less, but does that really matter? Is the USD-denominated value of Bitcoin a representation of what Bitcoin provides? It is exceedingly difficult to place a value on an idea until the idea has spread widely enough for a consensus. This is why growth is the primary factor above all others, and that simply takes time.

Persistence and patience will prevail because:
  • Bitcoin and crypto-currencies similar to it are based on a solid concept.
  • The Bitcoin system has been proven to work and scale reasonably well.
  • Fiat currencies controlled by increasingly restrictive governments are becoming less desirable.

There are other reasons, but those are at the top. One of the main barriers to growth right now is accessibility. Even with the proliferation of technology, how many people can run a command-line application or even download and start a graphical one, much less understand what it's about? A mobile app would be far superior, especially as NFC availability increases.

If a person so chose to, he would never need to carry physical cash ever again. That appeal is even greater than the switch from metal coins to paper bills - all that's needed is a smartphone or similarly-capable device. Adoption would easily explode, making Angry Birds seem quaint by comparison. This is a Facebook-level phenomenon.

Edit: forgot to add link for mobile app; corrected.
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