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Goldman Sachs to Open a Bitcoin Trading Operation (nytimes.com)
255 points by hapnin 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 279 comments



One element I find fascinating about the cryptocurrency / blockchain / ICO debates on HN and elsewhere is that there are 2 diametrically opposed sides with passionate advocates. On one side are the boosters that think it is a great innovation with enormous potential. The other side thinks blockchain is practically useless, the most overhyped technology ever created, a bubble never-before seen in history.

Yet every day there are stories (such as this article) showing crypto becoming more deeply ingrained in mainstream circles. New projects and new companies are forming consistently, just like with any new disruptive technology. But some very knowledgable people continue to argue with passion that the entire technology is a useless fraud!

However this pans out, there are going to be a lot of people on one side that were totally, completely wrong. I doubt there is much middle ground for this.


> Yet every day there are stories (such as this article) showing crypto becoming more deeply ingrained in mainstream circles.

For all intents and purposes, this is fake news. The value in GS opening a bitcoin trading operation is mostly in them publicizing and having people write articles about it. It looks like they're on the avant-garde of new technology and prospective hires - especially the engineers and techies - pay attention.

Are they actually opening a trading operation? Probably. But as the article points out - its far less glamorous than it sounds - some new dude is sitting on the FX desk waiting for compliance and regulatory approval. And the truth is - many hedge funds have been trading crypto for years now - and I'm pretty sure other bigger broker dealers have gotten into the game already as well.


>The value in GS opening a bitcoin trading operation is mostly in them publicizing and having people write articles about it

I think it's more about providing their customers with what they want. Or “It resonates with us when a client says, ‘I want to hold Bitcoin or Bitcoin futures ...” as the article says.

You've got to remember Wall St mostly makes money charging fees on the public investing and much of the public buys what's gone/is going up. Even if that's overpriced dotcoms in 99 or dubious bitcoins now they are happy to facilitate and take a percentage.


> For all intents and purposes, this is fake news.

Not sure about fake, but it certainly seems to have the usual layer of hype and obfuscation. It looks like they're opening a futures-trading platform, with potential plans to go into actual cryptocurrency trading later, if they can get the licenses, risk and logistics figured out.


You go to any trading floor today and compare it with 20 years ago youll find no one there. Does that mean trading stocks is overhyped?


Yes. Yes it is. Which is why so many people think it’s a magical get rich quick thing.


Yes what is? The stock market is better than ever it's alive and well.


It is over-hyped. Has been for decades.

Is it also alive and well? Yes. They aren't mutually exclusive.


Not sure I understand your definition of overhyped then. What's the correct non-hyped version of the stock market?


> However this pans out, there are going to be a lot of people on one side that were totally, completely wrong. I doubt there is much middle ground for this.

I am starting to have doubts on this one. I mean, I fully admit that if bitcoin ever becomes widely accepted as currency/money, something in my worldview has been horribly wrong and I need to learn from that. But the other side can keep on burning fossil fuels worth millions of dollars daily indefinitely [1] and keep on moving the goalposts and claiming that the still undefined actual use case that is worth billions of trillions may actually be just behind the corner. And we likely are beyond the point where anything could convince cryptocoiners otherwise.[2] I strongly doubt (and thus cast a challenge to prove me wrong...) cryptocoiners can come up with a clearly defined possible future event (or lack of event) that would irrefutably prove them wrong.

[1] Well, of course not indefinitely, there are things like the sun turning to a red giant and the Big Freeze of the universe that may cause some hiccups there, but indefinitely for the purpose of this analysis.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Prophecy_Fails


I think there are two groups, one that shapeshifts and moves goalposts for the purpose of selling coins at a profit (either offloading a huge stash or being on the right side of the bubble cycle), and another that treats it like a portfolio piece next to their gold coins.

The first is truly impossible to reason with. For the second, the event is simple: breaking the crypto or the crypto-economics in a way that prevents it from being scarce and “decentralized” (what’s it called when something is “actually, very centralized” but I can use it to move $50m across the rio grande?). How do you convince a goldbug that gold isn’t valuable because their lifetimes are not going to be thousands of years?


Why don't you believe today that bitcoin will ever be widely accepted? What challenges do you see?


Oh, and of course perhaps the most obvious one. Even if for whatever weird reason we as a society decided to start using cryptocurrency as widely used payment method, why on earth we would be willing to make that huge transfer of wealth to a few cryptonerds instead of forking our own and sharing the coins somehow more equally? It's not like creating your own cryptocurrency is that hard...


Creating one may not be hard, but having it be used/accepted will be. If you look down CoinMarketCap you’ll see hundreds of “currencies” that are either illiquid or nearly worthless.


"Hey, from next year on, you need to pay your taxes with GovernmentCryptoCoin." Problem solved.


- Nobody knowing who created it, especially since they control over 1,000,000 bitcoin (~5% of the eventual total supply).

- No solution to a 51% attack.

- The gradual loss of inflation in supply. There are very valid reasons why existing currencies use inflationary systems.


There will never be a solution to "the 51% attack" for any kind of decentralized system. No blockchain will solve that particular issue. The conjecture Bitcoin has formulated is that there is no monetary incentive to perform the attack, and if the threat model involves state level adversaries nothing is particular safe. So far, it has been demonstrated that it holds true.


> No solution to a 51% attack.

A 51% attack would cost more money than Bitcoin’s entire market cap


Unless you're operating a major mining pool or mining hardware company, or at least breach the security of those organizations.


There are quite a few challenges. The obvious ones are the technical ones regarding the transaction costs and capacity of the network (that may or may not be solved with Lightning.) But those are small ones. The real issue is that bitcoin people seem to have not given that much thought what modern money actually is and what is the role financial industry actual plays in the modern economy. So, some not so organized thoughts on that:

First, what is money? What most people nowadays consider as money is debt, or credit which equals trust. Basically money is the tool to keep the society to figure out who owes whom and how much. Thinking that it would be somehow good that we have a limited amount of debt we can have in the society is, well, mindbogglingly stupid idea in my head. Also removing the trust from the money makes no sense to me, and I really do not know how that could be accomplished (even in bitcoin, you need to trust some third party to assign some value to your bitcoins tomorrow).

And bitcoiners have not given that much thought on the credit side of the money. How is lending supposed to work with bicoin/smart contracts/whatever? One of the more important functions of financial sector is to convert your overnight deposit to my 20 year mortgage. There is literally nothing in bitcoin that would disrupt that functionality.

But let's assume bitcoin comes as a generally accepted currency. Now there are going to be institutions that are going to offer custodian services to hold your bitcoins because it is quite risky for a normal person to hold the actual bitcoins. These are insured against hacking and whatnot. Now, there is a need for lending and borrowing, so one day someone will figure out that if this institution is allowed to lend these bitcoins in custody forward (note, very prudently), the institution is able to offer much lower custody fees. Actually they are able to pay for you to give your bitcoins to their custody. As this institution is very prudent and everyone trusts this institution very much, someone is going to figure out that actually you do not need to get your bitcoins out of the institution to pay for your coffee, but the coffee shop is happy to take as a payment a promise that instead of paying me, the institution is going to pay the bitcoins to coffee shop owner. And almost magically, we have full fractional reserve banking and unlimited monetary supply. Without any regulatory oversight, of course.

Finally, there is no mechanism (either before or after this rebirth of fractional reserve banking) that would anyhow stabilize the value of one bitcoin. I do sometimes read very handvawy opinions that when bitcoin gains traction it somehow naturally stabilizes in value. But that is only wishful thinking, nothing more. If there is no mechanism to stabilize the value, then the value is defined by the ones that are willing to pay the most at any given time and that is for sure not stable. Which brings me to my last point. How delusional you need to be to think that bitcoin is anyhow good "store of value"? I mean, to me, if I want to put my wealth for whatever reason to something that is called "store of value" the one single most important criteria to judge the stores of value would be how well the thing actually stores value. And a highly volatile gambling token is a really bad store of value. (Applies partially to gold as well, but gold at least has some intrinsic value). And that is not going to change until there is a mechanism to keep the token value stable. Currently those mechanisms are called Central Banks.


All valid points. I think there's a more fundamental hurdle though: money as the instrument of coercion, with the state monopoly over defining its legitimacy, distribution channels, taxation. I can't fathom how the incumbents could let go of the monopoly.


Money is essentially an IOU from society, and you can collect your owed debt from anyone who accepts that money for goods and services. Bitcoin fits into that world very successfully, there are plenty of people who will accept Bitcoin for payment, whether directly into goods and services, or into another asset (like dollars) that can be widely used for goods and services.

Bitcoin is not good for lending, that's true. But it is good at plenty of other things, and Bitcoin will find a strong place in our economy despite its inability to facilitate lending and credit. In a similar token, cars cannot drive everywhere that horses can walk. And yet they have replaced the horse for most of the original mainstream uses of horses.

There are plenty of solutions to the custodial problem, and most of them reduce to situations that are much better than the bank. For example, you can have multi-sig ownership of your wallet shared by your bank. But, your bank's key is only valid after 4 weeks. If you lose your key, that money is locked up for a few weeks, but after that the bank can help you out. In the meantime, the bank doesn't control your money at all. That's just one example of one approach to custodianship that can't exist outside of cryptocurrency. There are many, many are very creative, and almost certainly most of them are better than what you can get with fiat money.

There's also the fact that bitcoin has no central monetary policy. Even if it does reduce to just people putting their money in banks and earning interest, they still end up in a situation where there's no central power controlling the monetary supply, the interest rate, or any other sort of policy related to the currency, and that is an upgrade (or at the very least, it's novel) over what traditional banking can do.

> Finally, there is no mechanism (either before or after this rebirth of fractional reserve banking) that would anyhow stabilize the value of one bitcoin. I do sometimes read very handvawy opinions that when bitcoin gains traction it somehow naturally stabilizes in value. But that is only wishful thinking, nothing more.

I don't think you've offered any constructive support for your argument. Bitcoin flails around because people suspect it can become the next reserve currency of the world, and because little bumps here and there have huge impacts on whether or not that may actually happen. At some point we'll know where exactly Bitcoin fits into the economy, and much of the speculation will melt away. That will substantially improve Bitcoin's velocity-to-price ratio, which should smooth out most of the volatility.

> How delusional you need to be to think that bitcoin is anyhow good "store of value"? I mean, to me, if I want to put my wealth for whatever reason to something that is called "store of value" the one single most important criteria to judge the stores of value would be how well the thing actually stores value. And a highly volatile gambling token is a really bad store of value.

No, bitcoin is a store of value that isn't dependent on any central body. No change in president, no declaration of war, no collapse of a country can disrupt bitcoin's function. While it's short term volatility is very high relative to traditional stores of value, it's resistance to chaotic global events makes it a very good hedge against global disaster. The amount of infrastructure required to run a successful bitcoin is incredibly minimal compared to something like the US banking system. A lot of people don't appreciate how carefully Bitcoin has been designed to resist major disasters, and how effectively it'd be able to pull that off.


> There's also the fact that bitcoin has no central monetary policy.

Once the fractional reserve bitcoin banks have popped up, there is no monetary policy, including no way to control money supply. That there are institutions that can create economically bitcoinlike payment units at will, obviously causes the value of bitcoin to fluctuate (chaotically, would be my guess). And traditional banking can easily replicate that, only thing we need to do is remove all regulation of financial institutions. Yes, there are reasons why the regulations are in place.

> it's resistance to chaotic global events makes it a very good hedge against global disaster

Not much of a disaster in my books if you have continuous access to internet and electricity.


The fossil fuel issue is solely an issue with Bitcoin's proof of work algorithm.

There are alternatives that use virtually no energy compared with proof of work, like proof of stake, which is being implemented on Ethereum.


Solely an issue with bitcoins algorithm? Given that you obviously can technically change the algorithm, but instead bitcoin folks choose to continue the environmental disaster and literally collectively burn millions of dollars into air every single day, to me it indicates that there are some other underlying issues very much there as well. But that may be just me.


Okay. But people are still using bitcoin. Why?


How old are you? The young are embracing crypto-currencies. The only guys that I see holding this back are 35+ and particularly 45+. Who, obviously, do have the wealth to move crypto to higher valuation.

There is nothing wrong with your worldview. You don't have the correct worldview, you'll never will and no one will. The world is complex and chaotic.


Speaking as a young person (22), I'm certainly not embracing cryptocurrencies and neither is anyone I know. Bitcoin is virtually useless as a currency[1] and, having no other compelling use-case whatsoever, cannot really be a store of value either. (Lightning network may change that, but that also amounts to totally replacing almost all of Bitcoin by building a hopefully less shitty system on top of it. Lightning being necessary means that Bitcoin as Satoshi envisioned it has failed utterly.)

Ethereum strikes me as basically a gimmick, and the constant calls for forks as some completely immutable smart contract gets irrevocably fucked up and the only option is to roll back the whole damn blockchain does not strike me as a problem that is even fixable; smart contracts just don't seem to be a good idea. It also seems terribly inefficient as a computing platform and unlikely to scale well.

I don't deny that the dream of decentralized, fast, low-transaction-cost, disruptive payment infrastructure would be groundbreaking if it could be achieved without instantly breaking due to scaling problems and wild speculation. But I'm not convinced that blockchain is even remotely the right tool to deliver it.

[1] Admittedly, not as useless as it was a couple months ago, when average transaction time would randomly spike through the roof and transaction fees were insane. But it seems like the reason that happened is not because problems were fixed, but because people moved away from Bitcoin and eased pressure on the creaking system. Bitcoin works only when people aren't trying to use it.


> Speaking as a young person (22), I'm certainly not embracing cryptocurrencies and neither is anyone I know. Bitcoin is virtually useless as a currency[1] and, having no other compelling use-case whatsoever, cannot really be a store of value either. (Lightning network may change that, but that also amounts to totally replacing almost all of Bitcoin by building a hopefully less shitty system on top of it. Lightning being necessary means that Bitcoin as Satoshi envisioned it has failed utterly.)

Speaking as a merchant selling high value hardware in a world where chargebacks and check fraud make it very hard to run a profitable online sales program... we've accepted more than $10 million in bitcoin for our products and the irreversibly means we don't need any markup for our customers to account for fraud.

It also makes international payments (US to Africa, US to China, US to Europe) almost completely seamless for any counterparty accepting crypto.

For things like cloud storage, you can set up contracts that automatically enforce penalties. No courts, no lawsuits, no backing out of a deal.

The tech is real, the use cases are real, and people are using it today to do things they couldn't do without it. It's super early, but it's going to be bigger than the internet.


>we've accepted more than $10 million in bitcoin for our products and the irreversibly means we don't need any markup for our customers to account for fraud.

I hope you realize the other side of the coin, from the consumer side, is not so great, right? What if you don't deliver the products? Maybe you're a super reputable vendor and people trust you but if you're a little guy selling stuff on ebay good luck convincing me to send you ETH. So much for the distributed currency empowering the little folks to fight against the giants.

There's a reason chargeback exists and that the balance is tipped towards the consumer instead of the vendor in general. It means that the consumer is more likely to consume. That's why even though stone-and-mortar shops could only accept cash and cheques they still use credit card that costs them more, because it's more convenient and makes it more likely for the user to consume. Reduced friction, consumer-guarantees and convenience more than justifies the Visa tax and constraints in many businesses.

In particular it's not something inherent to "fiat", Visa could unilaterally decide to never issue chargebacks for instance. They could also decide to charge the card holder for the transaction cost instead of the vendor. Do you really think that they don't do that because they never thought about it or maybe because there's a more practical reason for not doing things that way?


Why does a store of value need a compelling use-case? If you hold millions in gold it's most likely in a vault doing nothing except taking up space and storage costs alongside it's primary use case of being a store of value.


It needs to be useful for something other than just "being a store of value". Gold 'works' as well as it does because there's at least something tying it down to market fundamentals. You can make jewelry out of it, you can coat electrical contacts with it. There's reasons besides collective psychology that gold is worth something particular which isn't $0.

A digital asset like Bitcoin has nothing tying it down to market fundamentals at all unless there's something else to do with it. It's a disconnected number flapping about in the wind. And as we've observed, since the value people ascribe to a Bitcoin is entirely psychological, the price can do anything. I'm not storing my value in anything I can't be fairly certain will have similar or greater value in the future. A Bitcoin that could be used as a currency would have some inherent value, because being able to use something as currency is valuable.

Something has to be at least a little useful for its value to be reliable. (Having a trusted organization, which you expect to be around for a long time, that promises to exchange it for something useful counts as being useful itself.)


> Gold 'works' as well as it does because there's at least something tying it down to market fundamentals. You can make jewelry out of it, you can coat electrical contacts with it.

In the earlier phases of Gold as a store of value I'd agree that it having additional uses were a bonus but now when an institution be it private or governmental purchases millions of gold as assets for a SoV then this usage is inconsequential.

Gold used to be volatile but now is a stable store of value, it retains this because the market decides a fair price, gold can theoretically go to zero, it's just had hundreds of years to achieve a more stable price/value.

> since the value people ascribe to a Bitcoin is entirely psychological

This is totally true of gold too, it's just embedded more into society as an element that has value.

> A Bitcoin that could be used as a currency would have some inherent value, because being able to use something as currency is valuable

It's cheaper and faster for me to send BTC between US/EU, volatility is an issue of course.

> Something has to be at least a little useful (or else backed up by a trusted organization) for its value to be reliable.

I'm not sure many of the 'trusted' organizations are that trustworthy, look at the 2007 crash, massively over leveraged assets with complex rules/instruments and collusion (that resulted in the UK with no one being prosecuted).

There a few ways where I see BTC having an advantage as a SoV over gold.

* Portability (transferring any amount of BTC is limited only by transaction cost).

* Scarcity (The number of BTC is capped at 21 million ever on the network, gold will still be found and mined).

* Divisible (BTC can be divided to small amounts that would make it more useful for smaller purchases where gold is not practicable).


>In the earlier phases of Gold as a store of value I'd agree that it having additional uses were a bonus but now when an institution be it private or governmental purchases millions of gold as assets for a SoV then this usage is inconsequential.

Nearly 70% of the demand for gold is for jewelry, electronics, and other non-financial/SoV applications. The market value of gold is dominated by its practical and aesthetic uses.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/299609/gold-demand-by-in...


Super interesting, thanks for the link!

It looks to be dropping though: https://www.economist.com/node/16536800

>The market value of gold is dominated by its practical and aesthetic uses.

Should we really consider aesthetics here? Practical use cases within technology I can totally value.


Well, 30% of the market value of gold is from financial/SoV-type use cases! That's not insignificant. Because of the psychological consensus that gold is a decent place to store value - it's been one for several thousand years, you can reasonably assume that someone's still going to take it a few decades from now - that portion of its value fluctuates substantially depending on how interested people are in a literally solid and relatively-stable physical asset. So when people are uncertain about other investment prospects, they go to gold, because it's basically one step up from stuffing cash under your mattress insofar as gold is less subject to inflation.

Crypto is ... currently, at least, not where you go if you want something with a reliable, stable value.

And yeah, I think aesthetic value counts! It's also very much a psychological thing, and it's undeniably tied into a similar "I think this is valuable because other people will see it and think it looks valuable" loop; if gold were much cheaper, we wouldn't see as much gold jewelry. But it's also genuinely one of the better metals to make jewelry out of (doesn't corrode, ductile, nobody's allergic to it) and it's quite a pretty color. It's more fickle than industrial use, sure, but it's also much less fickle than investor speculation.


Not looking to argue with you as it seems like you have an idea stuck to your mind. But bitcoin/crypto is very useful to tax evasion, capital flight, criminal organizations, scams, speculative trading, wealth transfer, and other stuff.

Some of these are trillion dollar markets.


All of that is true to fiat, which of the above in your list is not possible with fiat?


There are plenty of people who use fiat currencies that are almost useless outside of their own nations borders, with extremely bad exchange rates. This basically binds a person to one country and hinders movement and prosperity.


Look at what the OP was saying, he was only listing negative things and attributing them all to something BTC excels at. I was saying that fiat is hardly a paragon of virtue :)


Just because there is a substitute doesn’t render cryptos useless. Further is it much more easy to send 1M in btc than smuggle them in a suitcase


Only 10% of the price of gold is "tied down" to it's real world usage. The other 90% is psychological.

So gold - 90% psychological

Bitcoin - 100% psychological

If you don't believe in psychological value, both are about as bad. I'm pretty sure no investment gold holder will be happy if gold price drops down to "tied down" value.


Actually, 70% of the price of gold is tied down to its real world usage. I was surprised too - I actually thought it was only around 10% when I made that comment.

But what I was referring to was that simply having some significant non-psychological value was key for giving people the stability and confidence to invest more value in it. In which case, the difference between 10% non-psychological value and 0% non-psychological value is something on the order of an infinity percent relative difference.


Because a store of value is better without random price fluctuations. If I am saving up for a Europe trip I want to add some value to a pot every month not gamble so i might make the trip in 2 or 20 years based on luck.

This is even more critical with companies, a farmer that sells his crop needs to insure he can buy fuel in 11 months for next harvest. Having a little more is nice, but having a little less is really bad. That risk profile is fairly common where a modest upside is not worth risking even a small dip.


> If I am saving up for a Europe trip I want to add some value to a pot every month not gamble so i might make the trip in 2 or 20 years based on luck.

You'd most likely not save for this trip in gold.

> a farmer that sells his crop needs to insure he can buy fuel in 11 months for next harvest. Having a little more is nice, but having a little less is really bad.

Also I don't know any farmers using gold as a store while waiting for harvests.

Look at some the gold fluctuations here, mainly large double digit swings:

http://onlygold.com/Info/Historical-Gold-Prices.asp

Gold is less volatile due to multiple financial instruments allowing trading/hedging on top of it, millennia of usage as store of value and that governmental institutions also back it as a store of value. Even with all that said it still took dips and swings of:

2015: -11% 2013: -27.6% 2010: 30%

Those seem volatile.


Gold is used as a hedge because it often moves opposite of other value stores. Crypto currency's move independent of any specific store of value making them effectively nearly useless as hedges.

PS: Adjusted for inflation in 1915 gold was worth $483.23 in 2015 prices, in 2018 it was actually worth $1,060. That's extreme long term price stability as in +/- 1% per year over 100 years go back say 500 or 2,000 years and it stays very stable. That long term stability relates to it's intrinsic value as an actual good, which bounds price movements.


Because a store of value is a theoretical construct that is never actually realized.

There is no such thing as a perfect store of value. Luxury goods and status objects can go out of vogue. Foods spoil. Houses need constant maintenance. Land's value can shift based on regional demand or even be destroyed by changes in climate - too much water, too little water. Currencies can fail and even personal favors fade over time.


Because otherwise the value won't be there when everyone needs to redeem it desperately.


>The only guys that I see holding this back are 35+ and particularly 45+. Who, obviously, do have the wealth to move crypto to higher valuation.

So a bunch of young people have bought into a new currency and/or store of value and you're complaining that the older crowd isn't further propping up that market? Why would I move my investments in productive assets like stocks, real estate and other things into Bitcoin? I don't have it in gold, I don't have it in established currencies, why would I want Bitcoin as an asset?

I still haven't seen a good argument for why Bitcoin's features should warrant what is, in the growth scenarios of its proponents, probably the biggest wealth transfer in the history of our civilization. Or any argument for that matter really.


> The young are embracing crypto-currencies.

As an anecdote, of the three first friends/acquaintances of mine that came to my mind that seem to have strong interest in cryptocurrencies, two are past 45 years old.

> You don't have the correct worldview, you'll never will and no one will.

There are differences, however, how wrong a world view is. I personally are a quite strong believer of Popperian philosophy of falsifiability, and currently cryptocurrency embracers do not pass that smell test but are there somewhere around religious zealots on the credibilty scale. You know, also creationism may be right, and being wrong in that discussion as an opponent to creationist has much higher price than being wrong about bitcoin future.


> As an anecdote, of the three first friends/acquaintances of mine that came to my mind that seem to have strong interest in cryptocurrencies, two are past 45 years old.

Boomers know bubbles.


> The young are embracing crypto-currencies.

Are they actually using it to make payments or just HODL?


I'm 29 and most crypto enthusiasts I have met were actually in 30-40 year range.


Because young people don't have the money, or if they do they don't have the risk tolerance with student loan debt.


You have proposed a false dilemma. It is entirely for the technology to be valid and useful with enormous potential AND for the current coin bubble to be a massive pyramid scheme on a scale never-before seen in history.

Tulips are still very pretty flowers. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania


Sure, but I can't lease servers anonymously with tulip bulbs. If for no other reason, because they're physical objects. Maybe with tulip futures, or whatever, but I digress.

I've followed discussions of anonymous electronic currency since the 90s. Nothing introduced before Bitcoin has survived. The main defect was centralization, which allowed government take-down. If I've missed one, please share.

And about the bubble thing, I don't much care. The Bitcoin price has seen times of huge volatility. The increase during 2017 from ~$1000 to almost $20000 was impressive. As was the collapse during first quarter 2018. But now the price seems relatively stable at $7000-$9000. And payments go through quickly enough.

And about anonymity. Yes, Bitcoin itself is not at all anonymous. Everything's in the public blockchain. But one can use mixing services, through Tor, and get different Bitcoin. Which aren't linked to the starting Bitcoin, or to any identity or IPv4 address that's linked to the user in meatspace. Maybe it's not perfect, but it's good enough for me.


> But now the price seems relatively stable at $7000-$9000. And payments go through quickly enough.

Great. Is this system that provides, so far, minimal to no advantage over other transaction systems worth expending the same electric power that a small developed country (Portugal) uses?


If you know another way to make anonymous payments, please share. I had a Liberty Reserve account, but they got busted. I have a Pecunix account, but it's not accepted anywhere. If I were wealthy, I could setup shell corporations and so on. But I'm not.

I do agree that a system that used less energy would be better. When it's available, and widely enough accepted, I'll switch.


If you think that Bitcoin transactions are anonymous then you are grossly mistaken. All transactions are part of PUBLIC ledger and are there to stay forever. The illusion of anonimity comes from thr fact that you don’t need an ID to create a Bitcoin wallet, but still it’s possible to trace your transactions back to you.


From my parent comment:

> And about anonymity. Yes, Bitcoin itself is not at all anonymous. Everything's in the public blockchain. But one can use mixing services, through Tor, and get different Bitcoin. Which aren't linked to the starting Bitcoin, or to any identity or IPv4 address that's linked to the user in meatspace. Maybe it's not perfect, but it's good enough for me.

So yes, usably anonymous.


You can also launder money after swapping it, doesn't make it anonymous either.


Engage the services of your local money launderer, they're doing the same thing.

Wait, you're saying they're criminals? I wonder why the bitcoin guys aren't.


The term "criminal" can mean so many things. It's like "terrorist". One person's criminal/terrorist is another's freedom fighter.

People hurting others (what's criminal to me) will use any system that's secure, hidden, anonymous, etc. Tor is a good example. But in a sense, they serve as canaries for other users.


Well, it may or may not be possible. The ledger may record a series of transactions like A → B → C → D → E, and you may know that A belongs to Joe and E to Mary, but it's not certain that you can know whether B, C and D are decoys created by one of them (and so they actually transacted directly) or if they're other people and the money simply circulated.

There are techniques to try to find that out, but they're not infallible.


This is a genuine question with no snark intended (sometimes we need to clarify stuff like this on the internet hah).

What's the overall energy expenditure for all fiat production,maintenance, asset storage (gold), mining of assets etc?

There are some interesting developments in the crypto sphere moving away from high energy proof or work to a holding system (Proof of stake).


I have no clue. But I don't doubt that systems as energy-intensive as Bitcoin would consume far more energy. Likely, orders of magnitude more.

I like to think of myself as caring about ecosystems. But after decades of work on decentralized electronic payment systems, Bitcoin is what we got.

I'm no expert, but I suspect that the Bitcoin protocol could be tweaked to make humongous mining operations unprofitable. But the chances of that are likely not so great.

I do hope that proof-of-stake systems will develop. Stake still means wealth, but at least it's not wealth that's funding energy-intensive proof-of-work.


Again with the tulip bulbs? Surely you've had the time to research this argument by now...


> Again with the tulip bulbs? Surely you've had the time to research this argument by now...

The real intricacies of tulip mania don't matter. Who cares if it was not exactly the bubble we thought it was? It was still a bubble, with serious consequences to those exposed to it. Yes, it didn't move at the speed of the markets move now because markets then were much more slower and it only affected a bunch of businessmen.

So what? We use the analogy because we know markets sometimes go crazy around stocks and other assets, with no apparent justification other than thinking the price will continue to grow and usually based on not much more than faith. Tulip mania has become a proxy for that behavior because the absurdity of a flower bulb skyrocketing in price, but if you don't like it, you can certainly point to many bubbles we know existed, had more widespread effects and were equally based on nothing. Some of them are not even a decade old.


Bubble or not: at $330bn, even if this all goes to $0 tomorrow, the world won't burn.

If this asset class would be trading at $10tn then the concerns would likely be valid.

Why not put a bit of money into the space and let things develop? If you're right, great, you haven't lost a lot. If you were wrong, you made a healthy return that is likely above any other investments you have access to.


At a incredibly high and volatile risk for what you're paying. Try and pull some of those Bitcoins out in a market rush, see if you're sale goes through in the next week. Even the high returns we've seen so far don't justify the fact that sometimes you're asset is worth nothing because you can't move it because some company "has a bug".


Why would I have to care for small(er) positions?

I consider this a high risk binary investment -- either it will work, or it won't. Unless you're investing $100k+ (which for most people wouldn't be a small part of their portfolio) you should easily be able to exit positions. This was clear even during the last correction.

From a risk level, (In my view) I'm looking at an angel investment but with better upside odds. The potential upside is disproportionate to the downside, and I'm happy to take on that risk.


Try and pull your savings out of a bank when there is a bank run.

I agree with the poster above, BTC and others may be in a bubble but the bubble is tiny compared to other asset classes and previous bubbles.


> Try and pull your savings out of a bank when there is a bank run.

Familiar with the FDIC?


Something that applies to the US only?


Most major countries have a similar scheme

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deposit_insurance


Take the EU for example from that link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deposit_insurance#By_EU_countr...

Limited to 100k, that is extremely low for a lot of people looking for safe asset havens.



I don't think there's that much disagreement over the effectiveness of blockchain for managing decentralized ledgers (cryptocurrencies). There's rather more contention about the applicability of blockchain to other spaces.


> I don't think there's that much disagreement over the effectiveness of blockchain for managing decentralized ledgers (cryptocurrencies)

Agreed. A lot of people have forgotten to ask the question - do I really need a decentralized and trustless ledger?


An >immutable< ledger helped me wrap my head around it better. The immutability makes software chip away at arenas that traditionally are the providence of law/contract/social/administrative/governance institutions. It allows for replacing middle men and automate processes that were locked up in the only form of "trust" that we knew how to facilitate (via layers of humans).


all ledgers imply relative immutability, with the security of the immutability having a cost that is dependent on the security level. There's a really large cost to having the immutability level of the blockchain. Is it worth it? Probably not in most cases.


Fundamentally, so it can't be taken down or pwned.


Do I need a ledger? Do I need to other people to trust what I write on the ledger? Do I need to trust what other people write on the ledger? Is it possible to trust what is written on the ledger in relation to what I actually care about?

I haven't heard any convincing yes answers to all of these questions outside of financial instruments.


The bulk of what any country's civil service does is keep trustworthy records. Court documents, property records, tax receipts... all require a civil service being paid well enough that accepting a bribe is a bad value proposition.

I find it telling that places where the government is bullish on cryptocurrencies (Venezuela, Moscow) have reputations as places with high amounts of graft.


For decentralized payment systems, it's obviously essential.

But there is no general answer. It depends on the circumstances.


Cash is a decentralized payment system for most intents. So the question becomes: Do I need a digital decentralized payment system? Does one need them?

One fairly strong legitimate use case is people who are consistently shunned by credit card networks. Lots of people working in adult industries, weed (in states where it's legal), certain high risk spaces... though _even then_ it's not about decentralization, just abut needing some form of competition (debit card network?)

Meanwhile there are real costs to the decentralized networks


You don't need a digital decentralized payment system for cash. At least, if cash transactions are all in person. But once you start mailing cash around, and having agents transport cash, a decentralized distributed-trust leger might be useful.


Yes, that's a good point. If you have a certain number of trust points you could use a decentralized ledger to effectively build a banking system where you still get cash out of it.

Suffice to say that this would likely be very against a bunch of KYC money laundering laws, but it's a decent trick


Such as hawala. I have no clue how it manages trust.


> Cash is a decentralized payment system for most intents. So the question becomes: Do I need a digital decentralized payment system? Does one need them?

Cash is not decentralized. Governments can print as much as they want.


It's decentralized for most purposes. It would be very hard for the gov't to revoke any transaction, or to blacklist money you have (except in very specific cases where the stars align and they can list serial numbers to block).

The fact that gov't can print money has roughly the same effect as speculation has on cryptocurrencies


I think the real question nobody has managed to answer successfully is "what do I need a decentralized ledger for?".


I think that's been greatly covered. Consensus.


That's like saying that a fladger is clearly valuable… for fladging!


I think this should be rephrased as: the disagreement is entirely over what happens when you introduce humans (and, even more specifically, human behavior).

The math is theoretically sound. Anyone disagreeing with that is a fool.

A good example is the argument over network control. The mathematics of blockchain very precisely describe what percentage of accumulated mining power introduces the opportunity to defeat distributed consensus. But it's the fact that there is a human behavioral incentive to try and accumulate that aggregate mining power that might be a real problem, not the math. Granted that's a low likelihood event.

This dichotomy emerges in countless different facets of blockchain, and I think is the simplest way of delineating the line between believers and naysayers.


In my mind the main contention is the difference between assets that exist entirely within the ledger (BTC, ETH, CryptoKitties) and assets that purport to reliably track some physical asset. Mathematical certainties about cryptographic security don't help reconcile the reality of meatspace with the state of the ledger.


Networked consencus. You want to have a 2ndhand market for digital assets, this is perfect for that, you want to build truly denctralized digital identity, this is perfect. Its basically a history layer on top of TCP/IP.


> You want to have a 2ndhand market for digital assets, this is perfect for that

Why do I want that?

> you want to build truly denctralized digital identity, this is perfect

That sounds useful. The technique of using a blockchain for distributed consensus has been around a long time now; why hasn't this killer app identity system emerged yet?

> Its basically a history layer on top of TCP/IP

That doesn't seem accurate. Do you mean that it could be that? Is there any chance of scaling a blockchain to that level of activity?


Why do people do Pokemon cards?

Why do you expect digital identity to be solved by blockchain in just 10 years with only the last 3 of them having had any serious investments. Not sure what universal rule it is you think it's not following.

It's accurate in perspective of both 2nd hand market and digital identity. The network is the concensus model that validates the history of the transactions and allow you to claim if something is historically an ebook owned by Bill-Gates or not. If you don't think that's valuable you haven't spend enough time in the artmarket to understand how humans apply value to things of basically no actual value (other than what other humans apply to it)


The thing I find odd (and unexciting) about the second-hand market thing is that appears to be to be fighting technology rather than innovating. We already have scarcity in the real world. One of the most interesting and powerful things about the digital world is that it scarcity does not exist. If I squint hard enough I can see this sort of thing being successful, but it seems like a step backward instead of forward.

My question in the identity system was actually an honest one (though I don't blame you for having me pegged as a skeptic and answering as such): why isn't this a thing yet? 10 years seems like a long time; 3 years seems like long enough for me to have heard of at least one promising work in progress system. What are the challenges?


Not sure if I have a stalker who just downvote everything I say or what's going but with the danger of yet another downvote for having an opinion:

You need scarcity in a digital world because you need things to be unique sometimes or have a unique history and because we need a way to establish "experience points" and to leave a trail that is uniquely yours and so that we can transfer that from one domain to another. That doesn't mean everything have to have a history or that we shouldn't take advantage of the Copy/Paste abilities digital gives us but there are plenty of areas where it's important to have scarcity.

Some exampels are:

Voting

Intellectual Property

Currency

Contracts

Documentation

Som even more interesting although more speculative areas IMO are: As a base for AI (there should be a cost associated with everything AI do the closer we come to Generalized AI) The ability for the individual to own their own data while still making it available to others (This can apply to everything from healthcare to buyer data)

I am of the belief that you want more fluidity in those areas the more digital our interactions become. Because that actually increases the need for "micro" agreements and history trails across organisationer or between humans. In other words I want a world where it's very easy for two or more parties to make agreements in the digital domain without being hooked up to some specific organisations interest. Just like I can freely trade my old book with the person next door.

If you have a secondhand market you have the ability to freely move between organizations and people without any need for a middle man who

With regards to the challenges for a Identity system it actually goes hand in hand with the second hand market in the sense that you want the ability to be able to know that a person/digital entity is what she/he/it say claim they are. The best way IMO is to create a unique finger print through our accumulated behaviors.

I wrote an essay about this a while back:

http://000fff.org/the-ghost-protocol-digital-identity-for-im...

But it will take time because it has to be a bottom up approach and it will require a lot more accumulation of our behavior plus perhaps some large player like FB, Google or Amazon to start accepting it. But that's why the second hand market is interesting in that it could allow for it to happen without big players.


I'm certainly not the one downvoting you :) I think your comments in this thread have been very interesting!


> Yet every day there are stories (such as this article) showing crypto becoming more deeply ingrained in mainstream circles.

Check out Attack of the 50-foot blockchain by David Gerard. He goes through many of those articles and debunks them. They are misleading articles written by crypto enthusiasts to promote their own agenda.

> I doubt there is much middle ground for this.

There is a middle ground. There are few areas where cryptocurrency can add real value.

Consider the example of origin / provenance tracking. That's not a problem that needs to be solved by blockchain unless the company can't trust its own audit logs and database team. Would you want give your credit card to a company that thought it needed blockchain technology to prevent tampering? It sounds like incompetence to me.

There are businesses that the public doesn't trust that could be disrupted by blockchain technology. Take a look at the studies on trust in casino and poker games. The public is very skeptical.


> There are businesses that the public doesn't trust that could be disrupted by blockchain technology. Take a look at the studies on trust in casino and poker games. The public is very skeptical.

Why is blockchain more useful here than a commitment scheme (e.g., the dealer publishes a salted hash of the order of cards, plays the game, then reveals the salt once all the cards are played)? The commitment scheme doesn't involve waiting for proof-of-work calculations or interacting with an existing global network / file.

It makes sense to use a stateful structure for a ledger of money, because the question of how much money I have depends on how much money was transfered to me since my account was opened. But how one poker game is played is not affected by how any previous poker game was played.


Where is the automated dispute resolution in the system you are describing? What is preventing the house from cheating?


The commitment scheme solves "cheating" in the sense of "dealing cards in a different order depending on how the game goes".

There are other types of cheating, e.g., leaking the order to players and perhaps picking a non-random order in advance. Those will take longer than a parenthetical in a conversation about Bitcoin to address. Do you think that a blockchain is capable of solving any of these types of cheating more than some offline stateless scheme could?


Does the process you are referring to automatically give a refund to the player? It's hard for me to follow your logic because you mention Bitcoin which doesn't have a smart contract language like Ethereum.

Check out the FunFair project.

https://funfair.io/how-it-works/whitepapers/


Oh, I was going off this thread being about Bitcoin. Ethereum is probably a better example, sure.

If your constraint is "I want a transfer of money based entirely on the output of this algorithm on this data," then a blockchain platform is probably the right approach, sure. But I think you only need that for an internet gambling site... if you're trying to restore trust in a physical casino, the wagered money is right there on the table, it's clear who should get it. (The other participant trying to physically attack you to get money they don't deserve is out of the threat model, I think.)

FunFair looks cool but I think it mostly follows this design: the actual game is off-chain and it's only settlement that happens in Ethereum itself, if I'm reading right. You're doing a commitment scheme on your shared RNG, you're just also adding in a smart contract that can verify the game (or a partial game, hopefully) and determine who should get what money. If all players trusted a third party to escrow the funds (where the third party could be an API or a table with a pile of money), then you could do the game with no blockchain at all.


beautifully explained.


> Consider the example of origin / provenance tracking. That's not a problem that needs to be solved by blockchain unless the company can't trust its own audit logs and database team.

It is if:

* you want if you want more than one company to cooperate

* you want participation to be permissionless

* you want it outlive the life of the particular corporations involved.

* you want join ownership

* It is also desirable if you think they could be hacked, or have downtime--ie, to remove the company as a single point of failure.


A bitcoin-style blockchain outsources trust to the participants with the most computing power. It does not magically eliminate trust.

This means that it's only a good idea if either a) you can limit the participants, and you somehow trust the participants with the most computing power than (e.g.) a simple majority of authorized participants, or b) you do not limit the participants, and you trust anyone in the world with the most computing power more than you trust anyone you would pick for some other reason.

For some applications - e.g. money for people who don't trust their governments or aren't well-served by the inter-government norms around currency exchange - they're legitimately in situation B. Sending and receiving bits to literally anyone is better than not being able to send and receive currency at all, and since a 51% attack will be noticed, it's unlikely to be used on any individual small-time user.

For provenance tracking between a set of companies identified in advance, I have difficulty understanding how you can be in situation B, and you're not in situation A.

If you instead want a cryptographically-verified immutable append-only log, there are lots of non-blockchain structures for immutable append-only logs that permit only a finite set of writers. Certificate Transparency is one of them: issued certificates cannot leave the log, and there are mechanisms for pre-logging certificates before issuance, but the only things worth logging are certificates from trusted (or partly-trusted) certificate authorities. Anyone can participate in the trust process, but transactions themselves only come from a limited set of participants, so you get to completely bypass proof-of-having-more-computers-than-everyone-else.


If you instead want a cryptographically-verified immutable append-only log, there are lots of non-blockchain structures for immutable append-only logs that permit only a finite set of writers

Yes. I actually like the concept of Bitcoin, but it's very annoying how so many of its fans seem to think Satoshi Nakamoto invented Merkle trees.


I'm actually okay with using "blockchain" to mean "distributed Merkle tree" if that's what people want. Just be clear about what properties you want so nobody builds mining into your system when unnecessary.


Hold up. That's really reductive. It isn't just a merkle tree. It's a merkle tree that you can look at and say "this merkle tree would cost 2 billion dollars to forge." This is valuable because if someone hands you one, you can tell if you're looking at a fake.


I didn't say Bitcoin is just a Merkle tree. My point is that Bitcoin is a system that combines different pre-existing components - like Merkle trees and Proof-of-Work - in a novel way, but people then split that system, and call those components "blockchain". Some user here in HN actually wrote "Git is a blockchain".

But the best example is that nonsense of "permissioned blockchains".


icebraining's claim is that Satoshi did invent something, but the thing he invented was not Merkle trees.

If you have an application where forging or forking the tree isn't meaningful (e.g., any possible Certificate Transparency Merkle tree can be merged at any point into any other one), then the thing that Satoshi invented is not useful to you, and having it cost $2 billion to build such a Merkle tree is a waste.


I don't really understand how a blockchain allows participation to be permissionless (how do you know what's written there corresponds to reality?) so maybe that's where the magic is, but every other point has been solved for decades - the DTCC does essentially what you're talking about for stock ownership.


> * you want if you want more than one company to cooperate

There are many companies that interact with API services from other companies.

> * you want participation to be permissionless

Is this something CTO's are requesting?

> * It is also desirable if you think they could be hacked, or have downtime--ie, to remove the company as a single point of failure.

The blockchain can be hacked as well.

> * you want it outlive the life of the particular corporations involved.

The corporations are the ones who would be driving this.


> There are businesses that the public doesn't trust that could be disrupted by blockchain technology. Take a look at the studies on trust in casino and poker games. The public is very skeptical.

I would love to read those studies. Do you happen to have a link or even a list of authors I could look up?



Couldn't the same argument be made against fiat currencies? Nations don't have a great track record for trust.

I don't see why a data-backed currency wouldn't completely flip the economy. I mean, the definition of fiat currency is basically: "it has value because you say so"


It has never been "it has value because you say so" by itself. It has value because it has a huge war machine behind it. Why does the gold coin of the realm have the king's face on it? Why didn't the king just keep the gold instead of using it to pay his soldiers and demand the coin be used to pay him his taxes from the formerly free peasants?

Money _is_ trust. I really wonder if people trust a traditional banking system less than an algorthm implemented by a group of programmers whose code they either can't read or can't understand or both.


Cryptocurrency seems to have struck a chord with those who do not see much chance for advancement in the current state of affairs and perceive it as a way out - this seems to be common among all the people involved I've seen interviewed from South Korea to Eastern Europe. There's little discussion of the advantage of system of traditional money versus cryptocurrency, though that may be a function of how short the quotes used in the article are.

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/04/23/597780405/...

http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/12/technology/south-korea-bitco...


> I really wonder if people trust a traditional banking system less than an algorthm implemented by a group of programmers whose code they either can't read or can't understand or both.

To be fair: How many people do actually understand the fiat money system that's going on, with all of its finer points and at scale?

I wouldn't be too surprised if quite many people only understand the "Government prints money" part but nothing else about it, which is pretty much my extent of understanding.

Compared to that something like BC seems actually rather simple and straightforward to wrap your head around (at least for me): A finite amount of coins, coins need to be farmed, once they are all farmed people will make money through transaction fees.

Don't need to understand all of the math to understand the basic principles at work. Just like you don't need to understand everything about the fiat money system to use it.


Simplicity is kinda nice, but it's not very indicative of a good solution all the time.

Especially given the counterintuitive results behind fiat currencies and the relatively low correlation between all the moving parts, it's difficult to even say if the simpler model is better because the complicated model has so many side effects.

I don't understand how my car works but it sure works better than my easy to understand bike.


> I don't understand how my car works but it sure works better than my easy to understand bike.

That's an interesting comparison:

- The car might work better by certain metrics (speed, distance, force) but the bike can still outperform it in some situations (high traffic, cost efficiency on shorter distances, terrain)

- If the car breaks I'd need help fixing it, with the bike, I could probably fix most issues myself.

That's why both, cars and bikes, do coexist as each of them fills a specific need/niche. Trying to apply this to monetary systems sure seems difficult to imagine, but maybe something like that might be the actual solution?


Yeah after posting I thought about this too. It's not that a car is "better", but it's better in certain instances.

A simpler solution is better in cases where you want many participants to operate the "backend" (the printing of money/distribution of money, so to speak). The biggest issue is that if your model is too simple there could be an easy way to game the system.


A single person working at bank can flip a switch and take my money. A developer can't do that with my Bitcoin.


The government can ban anybody from converting those bitcoins into something useful. The value of your digital baubles is now zero.


And then I transfer that to a different country and convert it their.

You don't need 1 government to do this. You need EVERY government to do this.

This is useful, in the sense that someone in venezuela is at serious risk of the government taking their money if it is in a bank, but they really couldn't do that to their Bitcoin.

Yes, if it is the US government doing the banning, you are significantly less likely to get around the ban.

But the world is not US centric. There are many governments would try to oppress their population by using the power of the banks, but would be significantly less effective against crypto transactions.

People are using crypto right NOW to get around many currency control laws implemented by governments. So they are successful getting around financial censorship that is already happening.


So now you have currency in another country. As long as your country doesn't allow you to repatriate, you still have nothing. It's the same as holding US dollars in a US bank while living in another country that regulates getting the money out (except worse because fewer people will accept BTC vs. USD). As long as you cannot spend it, it is worthless.


They are still spendable. Or sellable to private party.


Who will accept them if they cannot be converted back to usable currency?


If they are spendable they are usable currency. Perhaps of more limited use though to your point.


When was the last time this happened? Was the bank uninsured or unregulated? What did the police think of the matter?


Well, this literally effected me back in 2010 when I tried to donate to Wikileaks.

Visa and mastercard and all the banks banned transactions to Wikileaks even though no laws were broken.

They successfully censored transactions to them, without going through the court system.

The police did not force visa and mastercard to allow transactions to these places.

It is worse then that actually. The police PARTICIPATE in taking away money from people who haven't been convinced of any crimes.

Did you know is that if the police merely suspect you of "money laundering" or drug crimes or whatever, that they can just take your assets? They don't need a court order. They can just take the money that you are carrying, and in order to get it back you have to prove your innocence.

It is literally guilty until proven innocent with regards to police asset forfeiture. It is possible that you will never get that money back, even if you are never charged with a crime.

This is just one example though. The banks censor financial transactions ALL the time, even though no laws are being broken. You know, private company that can do whatever they want, and all that.

Or for other examples, just Google PayPal horror stories, of some administrator arbitrarily freezing people's money.

And I am talking about people who have broken zero laws, or have been convicted of anything in a court.

Someone at PayPal can just freeze your money, and who knows when or if you will get it back, without a court order. And this really does happen to people all the time.


> Well, this literally effected me back in 2010 when I tried to donate to Wikileaks.

Clearly it didn't because someone at the bank didn't press a button and make your money disappear, which was the original claim.

> Did you know is that if the police merely suspect you of

US problems, you need to sort out your laws.

> This is just one example though. The banks censor...

I don't know what you're involved in, I've never, ever had this issue, and it wasn't the issue we were talking about either.

> PayPal horror stories

Also not what we were talking about.


It's a particularly bad week to make that argument - many TSB customers have no access to their money right now as we speak. (No doubt in the fullness of time those people will be repaid, a regulatory investigation will occur, and a scapegoat will be found, but that's cold comfort to those people right now).


That seems to make the argument stronger: TSB customers will get full compensation and there will be legal penalties for the incompetent management. That seems a lot better than “everything is irreversibly gone” failure mode of Bitcoin which hopes that the victims will successfully track down and sue the culprits, as seen in the many failures so far.

It also sounds completely unlike the naive framing above alleging that bank employees are able to take your money


> That seems to make the argument stronger: TSB customers will get full compensation and there will be legal penalties for the incompetent management.

Customers will get "full compensation" of what was in their accounts, eventually but their consequential losses for not having money in the meantime are unlikely to be covered.

> That seems a lot better than “everything is irreversibly gone” failure mode of Bitcoin which hopes that the victims will successfully track down and sue the culprits, as seen in the many failures so far.

I don't really disagree, but bitcoin does give you more control over your own destiny. If you're smart and hardworking enough to store your own bitcoin securely, you can do so, and no-one can take it away from you.

> It also sounds completely unlike the naive framing above alleging that bank employees are able to take your money

That was those customers' experience - someone at the bank pressed a button, and now they can't exchange their money for goods and services. Eventually the wheels of law will grind away the bank and return those people's money, but that doesn't necessarily help them right now.


> I don't really disagree, but bitcoin does give you more control over your own destiny. If you're smart and hardworking enough to store your own bitcoin securely,

Which is so far beyond what normal people will ever be capable of doing!

> That was those customers' experience - someone at the bank pressed a button, and now they can't exchange their money for goods and services.

No, the claim was that it was 'gone', it's not.


> No, the claim was that it was 'gone', it's not.

If their balance is showing negative and they try to withdraw money and fail, I think it's fair to say their money is gone in every meaningful sense. Likely they'll get it back sooner or later, but at the moment it's gone.


I don't, sorry, I think that's a false and very self serving equivocation.


> If you're smart and hardworking enough to store your own bitcoin securely, you can do so, and no-one can take it away from you.

It seems very unrealistic to assume to 0.5% security and operational expertise for anything pitched as a general solution.


They have a problem accessing their cash right now, sure. It's not 'gone'.

And any number of developers have done exactly what the other poster said with bitcoin - exchanges have gone bust or just scammed an 'exit', wallet services get compromised or scammed, people's computers get infected, all sorts of stuff.

Tell me honestly, should I prefer a system where if it's gone, it's really gone forever and completely unrecoverable? One where the security advice tells me to keep multiple computers, one of which has never been networked, and perform laborious procedures with USB keys to use my money? And one in which the community will tell me I was wrong, sorry for my loss, and move on?

Yeah, they're in a bad place right now, they won't be forever. This is better than Bitcoin.


I don’t recognise your analysis at all.

What I see is one side that thinks bitcoin (specifically bitcoin) is going to be the new cash or the new gold, and one side that thinks bitcoin is a bubble.

Overtime this has evolved a bit; most bitcoin fans no longer argue for it as a currency, and they also talk about ETH etc. just as much as bitcoin.

I do not see most people who think bitcoin is a bubble saying blockchain itself is useless. You’re conflating two points of view to create a false dichotomy that (ironically) supports your own position.

The reason bitcoin is such a controversial topic is because the “bubblers” are right about one thing: there is a large component of emotion and hope driving those bullish on bitcoin. Logic like “well it’s not that different from gold” is arguable, but that in itself isn’t a guarantee bitcoin will be useful - hence there’s an element of gambling/irrationality. And no-one wants to be accused of that.


I often see discussions on HN where people are saying that bitcoin is completely useless (technically and economically), that it invented nothing new, etc.

I'm not a bitcoin supporter, I think the tech has been demonstrated as fundamentally flawed in practice already (slow and expensive transactions, failed to scale, failed to evolve etc.) and the economic/legal aspects are very complicated and uncertain.

But a lot of people are willing to put money in to playing with it and stuff like smart contracts, etc. are interesting - I wouldn't call it useless and it has decent potential to solve some issues but it's nowhere near it currently (eg. it could handle international money transfer - if it was easier to convert to cash/buy - but right now the margins and fees eat the difference between standard methods like western union, and they are less volatile/proven/known).


I'm interested in knowing why you think it failed scaling and evolving. SegWit and by extension LN, increased both scaling and was a significant evolution that enables sidechains and interchain transactions.

What became quite obvious was the "scare" with full blocks and expensive transactions was with all likelihood an attack with spam transactions and not an actual issue at this moment. See https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#1,all for unconfirmed transactions and notice how it doesn't exactly line up with price increases where you would expect more activity. There seems to be some correlation with the entire BCH fork.


>Yet every day there are stories (such as this article) showing crypto becoming more deeply ingrained in mainstream circles.

At face value what I see here isn’t that Goldman believes in crypto-commodities at all. It’s that Goldman sees there is money to be made on picking up fees from clients. What the clients are buying or trading really doesn’t matter at all, so long as the fees are coming in.


Bingo. Just like a casino doesn't "believe" in blackjack, craps or poker. They'll just set up the tables to match what people want to play. In the Goldman Sachs case it's even easier to set up tables as they don't have a finite size floor.


Your point is exactly why I have begun getting an allocation to bitcoin and ETH even though I am unsure whether it is going to zero, or whether either of those coins will be what the potential platforms of tomorrow are based on.

My heart (not much real research yet) is telling me that bitcoin will be a store of value and that ETH MAY run some very interesting and large scale platforms.

The risk of both going to zero is there, but the probability of massive growth in ETH or BTC is not zero.

I guess we will all see, but my small allocation to BTC and ETH every month will either be zero, or a lot. Or, maybe its just flat overtime. I really have no idea, and I don't think anyone else does either.

I just think it may be irresponsible to not at least have a small, very small allocation.


>Yet every day there are stories (such as this article) showing crypto becoming more deeply ingrained in mainstream circles.

Depends what you claim to be mainstream. Most of these "stories" are either 1/ speculation related (this one is) or 2/ some pipe dream it's-totally-going-to-work-guys technology that's going to cure cancer and solve world hunger through the power of SHA-256 and healing crystals (see IOTA, 99% of all ICOs, the "De Beers" crystal blockchain, the Kodak chain etc...). Now beyond all of that noise, maybe there's actual value somewhere.

I'm definitely in the camp of the "unbelievers" but I really don't think I'm being unreasonable. I think I understand how cryptocurrencies work (probably better than 99% of crypto zealots judging by the average technical level of cryptocurrency discussions online). They're great for buying illegal stuff online and timestamping documents. Every single other use case I've seen so far involves such a heavy amount of hand waving that I wonder if crypto-enthusiasts suffer from RSI more than the general population. It either simply falls apart after the smallest amount of scrutiny or ends up being so much more inefficient than "centralized" alternatives that you end up wondering who would use that (again, outside of doing illegal stuff online).

So frankly I don't think it's fair to oppose both camps like this. Either the technology is useful or it's not. If it is it shouldn't be difficult to explain how it is. Not by making fancy marketing slides but by explaining what problem it solves and how and why it's better than the alternative.

I could make a long post explaining why I believe that "public key cryptography is dumb and useless" and nobody would care because it's pretty damn obvious that it's actually very useful. It doesn't cease to exist if you stop believing in it. For the "Blockchain" (whatever that is) I'm not so sure.

Furthermore remember that cryptocurrency enthusiasts often own cryptocurrencies, so they have a clear incentive to "pump" the technology whereas unbelievers don't really have anything to gain either way (although you could argue that some are jealous of the bitcoin millionaires I suppose).


> although you could argue that some are jealous of the bitcoin millionaires I suppose

I would argue that technologists who missed out not only are jealous but feel ashamed since it's "their" area and they should have known. I personally think this is as big driving force as the holders wanting to pump the price. That's why I can't take any side serious.


Should've known what exactly? Cryptocurrencies are a huge success as a speculative asset but beyond that I see a lot of whitepapers and marketing pamphlets but very few actual results. I suspect the average speculator doesn't even use the technology themselves, instead keeping their coins on a centralized exchange for safety and convenience.

When's the last time you've actually used a Blockchain? What is there even to use in the wild today? There are a few Dapps PoCs that rely on 3rd party cloud storage services like Azure because storing data on-chain is too expensive, have a rather dubious business model and probably fewer actual users than lycos.com. Given the amount of money poured into cryptocurrencies these past years I'm not impressed, if anything every passing day without a Blockchain killer app reinforces my belief that it's mostly wind.


It's the perception that they should have known. "Why didn't you invest in Bitcoin, I thought you were good with tech?"


Bitcoin is terrible to buying illegal stuff. Now that exchanges have become somewhat legitimate businesses, the authorities can track bitcoins all the way back to the buyers.


If you're a good citizen who has nothing to hide it's true, you make "simple" A->B transactions that are out in the open for all to see. If you're doing something shady and are worried about being tracked there are ways to launder your coins by mixing them, converting them to other currencies, going through multiple exchanges under different jurisdictions etc... It's probably not as easy now than it used to be, it's true, but it's still way easier than anything else (well, except cash, but that doesn't work so well in the virtual world).

That's why it's kind of the worst of both worlds, if you're a law abiding citizen your company can see that you're moving some money they paid you to the wallet of dragondildos.com, meanwhile if you're a drug dealer you can launder money internationally with relatively little risk using Tor and Monero.

So I maintain that bitcoin is the best way to do illegal stuff online. It's not perfect but it's safer and more convenient than all the alternatives I can think about.


Many of us do occupy the middle ground of thinking 'maybe' or 'I really don't care' or whatever. We also tend to avoid commenting because bitcoin discussions are among the most useless on HN.


The most useless discussions on HN revolve around diet. So much pseudoscience. Topics on Bitcoin make more sense.


> However this pans out, there are going to be a lot of people on one side that were totally, completely wrong.

How about more people changing their minds as this pans out?

One of the sad issues of internet debate is people see it as binary - agree or disagree. There are some well reasoned arguments on HN which walk the line between supporting cryptocurrency but against something like say, IOTA. But somehow everyone either in favor or against.


I think there's more middle ground than you think. Personally, I think blockchain is a useful, interesting technology that can be used to solve a number of problems. And I think that blockchain-based cryptocurrencies are likewise useful as a pseudonymous medium of exchange and will probably be around for a long time. Cryptocurrency has utility and therefore actual value.

I just don't think that 'actual value' is $30k/bitcoin or whatever. I think bitcoin and other coins are overvalued hundreds or maybe thousands-fold and that overvaluation is driven by an enormous speculative bubble of people who mostly don't understand anything about the thing but buy out of fear of missing out in case the price keeps going up forever.

Blockchain is here to stay. Cryptocurrency likewise. $30k coin valuation is a flash in the pan.


Not many people dare to give a monetary value at this point. What kind of legitimate use case would have the order of magnitude valuation you describe and what is your reasoning behind it?


I may have implied more precision than I meant; my thought is just that the value seems more likely to be small than very large.

Reasoning would be the things contributing to value are the utility (it's a medium of exchange) and the scarcity (there can only be a finite number of Bitcoin). But the latter has limited effect because anyone can create a new coin anytime they want to.

I could be wrong, of course. I'm not an economist.


I'm very bullish on Bitcoin as a currency but simultaneously think that "blockchain" and the vast majority of altcoins are overhyped technology.

Something that often gets swept under the carpet is that hash rate matters. You don't get the benefits of a "blockchain" with only a handful of miners.


I don't think any intelligent person would disagree that decentralisation of money is a good thing and that any tech that enables it could easily change the world. What some people, including me, are saying now is just that this isn't it. Blockchain does not solve the problem.


If you need decentralized money, you need a decentralize ledger that no entity controls. That ledger needs some way to make a hostile takeover unfeasible. By requiring the ledger to work by the PoW scheme means you need to invest enough to have the majority of hashrate, to control it.

If you can solve the distributed ledge problem, without PoW, and somehow prevent the majority of wealth to control it, you've got it. So far, it seems that the bitcoin blockchain is the best answer so far if we can accept the massive power requirement.


What are your reservations about blockchain? I do believe that blockchain solves this problem, and I'm also an expert in the field (seven years of research). Maybe I can move the needle for you.


Only one reservation: it's not scalable.


So you're saying that with all the investment into crypto-currency development, and a techonology that did not exist in any form 10 years ago, that it is impossible to scale?

You are saying it is impossible to create an improved form of crypto currency that solves scaling? Even with 10's of billions of dollars being invested this year into their development? People are throwing a lot of money at this technology. The stakes are incredibly high. If someone does find a solution and creates a form of crypto currency which can operate at scale and do so for cheap fees, they'll become at least a billionaire.

On top of becoming a billionaire, a crypto currency that was able to transact at scale, securely, for pennies in TX costs would fundamentally change the world.


> You are saying it is impossible to create an improved form of crypto currency that solves scaling?

No I'm not saying that at all. I'm talking about Blockchain as it currently exists and as the only real solution to decentralised digital money that we have right now.

Who cares how much money is being invested into it? I'll believe a solution when I see it. And I'll welcome it with open arms. But until then it's purely hypothetical.


It's not purely hypothetical. The foundation is there. It's been running for 9+ years. People have shown a willingness to assign real value to digital assets. What you're complaining about is the technology as it exists today.

The technology can improved. The money being invested into the space is an incentive and a validation for people who wish to work on improving the technology. Money attracts talent. There's also some very genuine reasons why blockchain technology can serve the greater good.


It will scale. But let's say it doesn't.

The global gold market makes something like 1 transaction per day. Global inter-bank interest rates are also on the volume of a few transactions per day.

Deep, core infrastructure (even things like BGP and DNS) don't need all that much scalability. As long as it has a use case in deep infrastructure, it can become globally relevant without scale.

But it will scale.


So... those seven years of research don't allow you to give any specifics on how it will scale? Just "believe me"? I think that's what all the sceptics (including me) are worried about: lots of hyperbole and wishful thinking, but no specifics; grand claims about applicability that vanish as soon as you asked for details or how exactly it solves a problem, and the major problems just being handwaved away with a "don't worry, it'll work in the future".

If it every works as a money transfer network, a store of value, or actually solves any of my other problems in more efficient way than other solutions, then I'll use it then. No need for me to speculate on it now.


Yeah. There is so much wishful thinking in all cryptos and that's what ultimately drove me away. So many people don't understand the technology or what it really means to have a system running at global scale yet they are sure that someone else will solve the problem for them.

This actually gets at a deeper problem in our society. Lots of people justify their unsustainable lifestyles by thinking that some day technology will make it sustainable. It doesn't work like that. When new technology happens you won't go sustainable, you'll want more.


What part of it is not scalable? Storage of history? Supported transaction volume?


Yes. Add to that the environmental impact of proof-of-work as well. Are people still not seeing this? I think the question should be, how is it scalable?


A lot of people are working on that, though. Lightning Network seems like a huge improvement already? Proof of Stake, if it can be made to work, might also scale much better than Proof of Work.


> Yet every day there are stories (such as this article) showing crypto becoming more deeply ingrained in mainstream circles.

They're selling shovels.


And, what's more important, selling shovels doesn't imply belief that the mountain where everyone is digging actually contains gold, it is a viable and profitable business even if all the miners eventually come back empty-handed.


> Yet every day there are stories (such as this article) showing crypto becoming more deeply ingrained in mainstream circles

Goldman-Sachs doesn't have to care if the goldrush is real or not, so long as they can sell shovels.


Yes, I'm always amused when people see GS entering cryptocurrencies as a good thing. Here's an article from 2010 on how GS can profit from bubbles: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-america...


I hold both views simultaneously. I see huge potential for it, but in terms of practicality the incumbent mainstream technologies are good enough. Until it gets mainstream adoption it's pretty much useless to me.


And then there are those of us who sit in the middle. Regardless of whether Bitcoin is a bubble or not, the thing is that you can't do much with it. There are few companies here and there that support it but for the best part everyone's sitting on their stack waiting for wider adoption from the real world in the future. As long as this isn't happening the whole discussion regarding Bitcoin is irrelevant. What's the point of having "money" you can't use as such.


"The other side thinks blockchain is practically useless, the most overhyped technology ever created, a bubble never-before seen in history."

I really think the bubble side of crypto currencies is wildly overstated, the total market cap is tiny in comparison to any massively over leveraged asset (housing,student loans) etc.

Whilst BTC and others may be in a bubble even if they crashed to zero now it would pale compared to bubbles within the last 20 years.


It may be a bubble never-before-seen in relative terms of price-at-peak divided by some unknown future price-after-settling.

It's certainly not the largest bubble in absolute terms, not even close.


That is something that anyone can apply to anything. I'm not being snarky, I agree that BTC may be a large bubble but too many people are talking in absolute terms.


The extreme voices are the loudest, and online arguments don't nurture nuanced perspectives. Thus, if it's a binary choice, your options are:

1. Crypo=Blockchain=Bitcoin, we're all going to be doing 100% of our transactions in BTC in 5 years, it's going to revolutionize the world more than any other invention, and how could you not see the obvious, you sheeple.

2. Everything related to BTC, blockchain, crypto is a giant over-hyped fraud, the concept isn't new, investors are stupid for throwing money at it, and no one cares about this, you neckbeards.

I would be in the "negative" camp if it was a binary choice. But there's a ton of middle ground.


I agree. One of the consistently recurring types of jabs at blockchain from the HN crowd is to lampoon the fact that it is just an 'append-only' database. Then i realized that while they are right, the naysayers fail to appreciate how fucking amazing that is. PoW gave us the first append-only database worth its salt. That gives us a form of digital history that computers can interface with directly. Tubes and wires man!


I think there will be a middle ground. Both parties will be dissapointed. Bitcoin won't be the future of all transactions (or crypto for that matter). We still need the physical world to a large degree.

Also crypto is here to stay. The use cases are huge and the community has matured beyond the hype. Sure there are lots of scams, and it has a bubbly nature. But the people working in this field have learned to embrace it.


It does seem that way. I think the middle ground in that debate is occupied mostly by people who just don't know much about blockchain on the one hand and people like myself, who expect very good OR very bad consequences to come from the technology, but are unsure how to raise the odds of the good outcome and don't even all agree on which are which.



If I'm reading this graph right, are we at "Return to \"normal\"" main stage of the bitcoin bubble? If yes, then bitcoin is about to go down to the "Despair" stage soon.


> New projects and new companies are forming consistently, just like with any new disruptive technology.

Or just like bubbles


I think the most important thing is that Bitcoin opened the floodgates by allowing innovation in economic systems. I'm not sure of anything else, but innovation and competition is bound to evolve into something by survival of the fittest. I find this really fascinating.


This isn't what the hardcore Bitcoin proponents want, though. They think Bitcoin is a revolutionary piece of technology that will replace fiat currency. This is just a big bank recognizing an opportunity to make money by speculating on price changes.


Seems to be a general failure mode for human reasoning when presented with two options and weak evidence. We fall into a holy war instead of being happy with "meh, 50/50"


this is all kind of obvious right? calling it "disruptive" is extremely vague in a kind of "i don't care of it's just a scam" kind of way.


I think it's very risky for people to predict that crypto will die. If it doesn't, the stigma of 1 online comment will stay with them for the rest of their life: whenever Jamie Dimon will want predict something in the future, his opponents will say "yeah, says the guy who thought Bitcoin is a fraud".

If crypto WILL die and one positioned themselves as a supporter, nobody will tell them they were overly enthusiastic about some vaporware. Who is being bashed for semantic web not becoming web 3.0, for example?


Semantic web was not fueling rampant mainstream financial speculation such that its failure would result in large numbers of regular folks losing lots of money.


> If crypto WILL die and one positioned themselves as a supporter, nobody will tell them they were overly enthusiastic about some vaporware.

I sure hope that stigma will attach to the scam artists, tax evaders and clueless chumps who together make up the overwhelming majority of cryptocurrency boosters today.

Alas, you're probably correct that they'll move on to the next fad with their reputations intact.


I don't think the stigma of one online comment would stay with most people in the same way.

Few are that high profile, or in that specific field.


Bitcoin is the eniac of crypto-currencies.

Good for the time, no, you shouldn't have one in your garage.


Plenty of middle ground for everyone. I've traded buy things with various coins loved the idea. I also see the downsides and wonder if it will all work out.


Corba was mainstream once. 95% of these announcements are IT departments who desperately have to show some activity and need something to work on.

Some manager, who also needs to show activity, catches on and promotes the heck out of it.

The manager's manager, who also needs to show activity, ...

Finally the matter arrives at the CEO, who, incidentally, has to show activity to the board. Therefore, he approves.


> But some very knowledgable people continue to argue with passion that the entire technology is a useless fraud!

Can you mention one of them? And his/her knowledgable argument.

--

> useless fraud!

It's already been used to solve real world problems:

https://www.coindesk.com/the-united-nations-just-launched-it...

Citi and Nasdaq had a blockchain project that is already up and live. Can't find a link, but I swear I've watched it in a blockchain event in youtube.

However, these are small scale use. Afaik, no blockchain is able to scale to creditcard usage yet (and stay secure at the same time). Ethereum Foundation is working hard on this. Not sure about Bitcoin. So as far as ETH goes, there's basis on it's price growth.


> Can't find a link, but I swear I've watched it in a blockchain event in youtube.

This is a perfect example of "solution looking for a problem". You heard about the thing via Bitcoin channels, you only care about it because it's /Bitcoin/ solving a problem, not because the problem is solved, you can't actually find the thing now!

Normal people, people who haven't bought Bitcoin, don't really care /how/ their problems are solved. This is the fundamental reason Bitcoin hasn't gone mainstream. It doesn't solve any mainstream problems well.


Sounds like a reasonable operation to set up. Goldman is ostensibly in the business of selling shovels in a gold rush so if enough of their clients are demanding a product that gives then exposure to bitcoin then Goldman senses there's money to be made here in fees.


Aside from shovels, Goldman Sachs is also in the business of commodity manipulation, as showcased by their rather ridiculous aluminium scheme.

Bitcoin is a commodity, and with the amount of money they have at their disposal, I can only imagine fees aren't the only thing they're going to focus on.


> reasonable

I'm not sure what is meant by that word, but in addition to profit there are questions of ethics, and the enlightened self-interest of wanting a reputation for integrity, a stable financial system in which people feel its safe to participate, and a society built on merit and integrity.

Profit alone isn't a good guide to business decisions.


Agreed. To clarify, I use the term in a narrow sense limited to what I imagine to be "reasonable" from the profit seeking point of view of Goldman.


They probably feel they have an edge trading against the typical crypto trader.


They’re doing this so their clients can trade bitcoin in various ways and they can make fees off of it.

Their prop traders won’t be trading directly against you with the bank’s money.


Well they certainly do, the 'market' is very inefficient.


I doubt they are interested in providing liquidity for an unproven technology and currency though.


Re: Goldman’s activity pumping and dumping IPO’s they knew to be worthless to screw over retail investors during the late 90s tech bubble.

Read Matt Taibbi’s hyperbolic yet mostly accurate Rolling Stone article for more info.

It’s safe to assume Goldman isn’t neccesarily getting into bitcoin because it believes in the technology.


They believe it will make them money, which is all they care about.

Bitcoin probably won't cure cancer, but Goldman isn't in the business of curing cancer anyway...


They would be if they knew how, as would almost anyone else.


Not really? There are professional oncology researchers out there but they work at universities, research hospitals, and pharma companies, not finance companies like Goldman.


Goldman Sachs is not opening a bitcoin trading operation because they believe in the legitimacy of blockchain tech. The only reason Goldman is doing this is because they smell money and realize that jumping into a bubble can net them hundreds of millions/billions of dollars in profit. They are not going to make money from buying bitcoin, they are going to make money in fees they charge other large clients to buy/sell/hedge/etc bitcoin. They'll also create some exotic bitcoin-based financial instruments that nobody can understand but will sell to pension funds for gobs of money.

Will blockchain revolutionize tech and business in general? Will a Bitcoin be worth a million bucks some day? Will crypto replace traditional currency? I don't know - but I guarantee that is not the angle Goldman is playing here.


Goldman is experimenting, not smelling big bucks. Other firms, namely JPMorgan, won't touch bitcoin for the same reasons they train every employee over and over how to stay away from money laundering red flags. Banks have populist targets on their backs, getting involved with Bitcoin elevates the bright redness of those targets. But Goldman is uniquely smart and I'm intrigued. Guess I'll add them as a custom Google News section...


Goldman is very smart but they are also willing to throw ethics out the window and put huge swaths of society at financial risk if they can capitalize on it. I like them as an investment but they are kind of the epitome of capitalism's worst excess.


Imagine that the year is 2011, Bitcoin appears for one of the first times on HN, and someone says "in the future Goldman will trade bitcoin". Ha ha ha ha ha....

Today, someone (me) says: in the future, first world central banks will hold bitcoin as a reserve among the usual things (dollars, euros, gold, ...)


FYI, I think this is the first time it was mentioned on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=463793 Sadly no comments.

Here's the first post with comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=599852

"Well this is an exceptionally cute idea, but there is absolutely no way that anyone is going to have any faith in this currency."

Heh.

Here are my BigQuery queries:

https://bigquery.cloud.google.com/savedquery/1243883842:637b...

https://bigquery.cloud.google.com/results/bq-test-1265:US.bq...


In 2011 I was saying "the only thing Bitcoin is actually useful for (as in better than the alternatives) is buying drugs", and people assured me that actually useful applications were just around the corner.

7 years on, the only thing Bitcoin is actually useful for (as in better than the alternatives) is buying drugs.


> In 2011 I was saying "the only thing Bitcoin is actually useful for (as in better than the alternatives) is buying drugs", and people assured me that actually useful applications were just around the corner.

Same here.

> 7 years on, the only thing Bitcoin is actually useful for (as in better than the alternatives) is buying drugs.

Don't forget ransomware! And actually, it turns out not to be good for those purposes if you care about not having a permanent record of transactions that could potentially be traced back to you at any point in the future.

The real innovation is in demonstrating why financial regulations exist and the various scams that lead to them.


That's not true.

The permanent ledger means that every transaction is stored forever. Unless you want government to know you bought drugs you're much better off using something actually anonymous.


My website was hacked into and the hacker demanded bitcoin to release it. So there's that.


How it must feel to have had enough awareness of bitcoin in 2011 that you felt qualified to make offhand snide comments about it then 7 years later wake up and realize you could have been a centi-millionaire if only you'd been a little less cynical. The r/buttcoin subreddit was made in 2011 or 2012. I sometimes wonder if some of the original posters haven't thrown themselves out of a window by now.

edit: And in come the down votes. Cognitive dissonance is a cruel mistress.


I heard of bitcoin pretty early on in /b/ and have no regrets. I also don't regret that I wasn't alive to cash out at the right time on tulips or penny stocks or dot com companies, or even stuff which turned out to stick around like Apple.

There are lots of places to gamble and lots of people winning and losing all the time, much more often through luck than genius. If some of those people end up fantastically wealthy and rather smug about it it's definitely not the biggest problem for me or my ego.

People who become fantastically successful through skill, determination and creativity, they're a bit more bruising.


>I also don't regret that I wasn't alive to cash out at the right time on tulips or penny stocks or dot com companies, or even stuff which turned out to stick around like Apple.

Begging the question of whether tulip mania is even relevant in this context, were you going around at the beginning of it or when Apple got listed making snide comments? Yeah. Thought not. But then again, this is """Hacker""" News so critical thinking isn't exactly what anyone would expect. For instance, a significant fraction of this thread is debating whether Goldman Sachs "believes" in Bitcoin. What? Who cares. The significance of them opening a trading desk is people who like to do their gambling with them can now buy Bitcoins. More buyers, more sellers, more volume. But carry on having no regrets.

Oh and, nice cope.


I make a decent living improving software to make real people's lives easier. I'll probably never be a millionaire but I'll never have trouble sleeping at night. There are plenty of points in my career where I could've chosen to make more money by selling something that doesn't work to idiots, and I don't regret missing out on any of them.


>I'll never have trouble sleeping at night.

If it bothered you that much, you could have had millions to donate to any charity of your choice.

>I'll probably never be a millionaire

You won't with that attitude.

>There are plenty of points in my career where I could've chosen to make more money by selling something that doesn't work to idiots

You started with airs of the moral high ground and now you're the supposed smart guy to the rest of the idiots. By extension, you're implying Bitcoin buyers are also idiots. The hubris. The gall. The cope.


> If it bothered you that much, you could have had millions to donate to any charity of your choice.

Donating a fraction of my ill-gotten gains wouldn't make them any less ill-gotten. There would still be real people who'd lost money on the other end.

> You started with airs of the moral high ground and now you're the supposed smart guy to the rest of the idiots. By extension, you're implying Bitcoin buyers are also idiots.

I believe it's worthless. I'm not going to make money selling something I believe is worthless (to the people I'm selling to; I have no problem selling e.g. fashionable clothes to people who put value in that even if I don't personally). If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and I'll lose out.

> The hubris. The gall. The cope.

People selling things that have actual value don't talk like this. You're sounding like a huckster.


>Donating a fraction of my ill-gotten gains wouldn't make them any less ill-gotten. There would still be real people who'd lost money on the other end.

The gains are not "ill-gotten". Slamming people who buy Bitcoin and implying they are somehow morally wrong and that you are somehow superior is disgusting. But that's another moral argument so I guess I could be hypocritical like you except I'm right.

>I believe it's worthless. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and I'll lose out.

"it's worthless" "If" "I will lose out" Sorry to break the news but a Bitcoin is worth 9200 US dollars. You are wrong and you have already lost out.

>People selling things that have actual value don't talk like this. You're sounding like a huckster.

It wouldn't matter what I said, you've obviously made up your mind so no matter what, to you, I'm going to sound like a "huckster" and bitcoin doesn't have value and people who buy it for some reason plucked from your imagination have trouble sleeping at night (I mean what?) on and on. I hope that makes you feel better.


> The gains are not "ill-gotten". Slamming people who buy Bitcoin and implying they are somehow morally wrong and that you are somehow superior is disgusting.

They are ill-gotten, since the only actual value Bitcoin produces is to the drugs trade (or similar businesses that rely on evading the rule of democratically-passed law). All the rest of Bitcoin activity is zero- or negative-sum - there's no other value going into the system, so everything else is just moving drug money around.

> "it's worthless" "If" "I will lose out" Sorry to break the news but a Bitcoin is worth 9200 US dollars. You are wrong and you have already lost out.

People sure as hell aren't getting 9200 dollars' real-world use out of it (except maybe the ones who are trading drugs). For anyone else it's a 9200 dollar hot potato - someone is going to be left carrying the can.

> It wouldn't matter what I said, you've obviously made up your mind so no matter what

I'm always open to substantive arguments. "Nice cope" suggests you don't have any.


Nocoiners seem to pingpong between an attitude of sour grapes and one of schadenfreude, depending on valuations. Perhaps it's a natural reaction to being too risk-averse to invest in something that's been profitable for people one considers intellectual inferiors.

It seems far more reasonable to assess technology this nascent by the quality of teams working on it than anything else. Unfortunately, that's difficult to do in a rigorous fashion.


Imagine that the year is 1999, tech stocks are constantly discussed on HN, and someone says "in a few years most of these companies will be gone". Ha ha ha ha ha....

Today, someone (me) says: in the future, most cryptocurrencies will trade at ~$1 per coin (BTC, ETH, ...)


>someone (me) says: in the future, most cryptocurrencies will trade at ~$1 per coin

Will you sell me a call option?


Out of curiosity, is there a place to do this with low transaction fees and low counterparty risk?


LedgerX, Deribit, and Coinut all facilitate options contracts.


I'd say show me your shorts. Otherwise it's just idle chatter.


Or even $0 per. Because there are no more $ at that point. Only cryptocurrencies. Or something else. No currency we know of lasts forever.


The fact that central banks still hold gold reserves in developed economies is mostly due to historical reasons and not to back their currencies.


Goldman isn't holding Bitcoin itself. They're not stupid.


Why would they be stupid to hold the bitcoin themselves? If they don't hold the private keys, then whoever does could lose them.


By hold, I mean own. Holding as in holding the actual keys would be another level of crazy on top of that.


If they hold the Bitcoin themselves, they have to deal with securely holding the keys, compliance, and insurance. If someone else holds them, then this third party has all of these issues while GS will still get some kind of insurance payout if there is a catastrophic loss.

Similarly, I doubt that GS commodity traders have warehouses full of gold/silver/oil.


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lme-warehousing-idUSTRE76...

It's pretty common for commodity traders to buy commodity warehouse operators.


What does being right about a prediction mean to you?


I'm not sure what you are asking here.

I do trade bitcoin, with an eye towards holding it for a bunch of years, possibly with leverage, so being right would make me money.


You seem quite amused that you were right about a prediction. It must mean something to be right about the future, correct? Some personal achievement?

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