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.
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.
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.
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.
Is it also alive and well? Yes. They aren't mutually exclusive.
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  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. 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.
 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.
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?
- No solution to a 51% attack.
- The gradual loss of inflation in supply. There are very valid reasons why existing currencies use inflationary systems.
A 51% attack would cost more money than Bitcoin’s entire market cap
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.
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.
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.
There are alternatives that use virtually no energy compared with proof of work, like proof of stake, which is being implemented on Ethereum.
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.
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.
 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 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.
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?
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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.
Some of these are trillion dollar markets.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Those seem volatile.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Boomers know bubbles.
Are they actually using it to make payments or just HODL?
Tulips are still very pretty flowers. 
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.
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?
I do agree that a system that used less energy would be better. When it's available, and widely enough accepted, I'll switch.
> 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.
Wait, you're saying they're criminals?
I wonder why the bitcoin guys aren't.
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.
There are techniques to try to find that out, but they're not infallible.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Familiar with the FDIC?
Limited to 100k, that is extremely low for a lot of people looking for safe asset havens.
Agreed. A lot of people have forgotten to ask the question - do I really need a decentralized and trustless ledger?
I haven't heard any convincing yes answers to all of these questions outside of financial instruments.
I find it telling that places where the government is bullish on cryptocurrencies (Venezuela, Moscow) have reputations as places with high amounts of graft.
But there is no general answer. It depends on the circumstances.
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
Suffice to say that this would likely be very against a bunch of KYC money laundering laws, but it's a decent trick
Cash is not decentralized. Governments can print as much as they want.
The fact that gov't can print money has roughly the same effect as speculation has on cryptocurrencies
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.
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 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)
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?
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
Check out the FunFair project.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But the best example is that nonsense of "permissioned blockchains".
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.
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.
I would love to read those studies. Do you happen to have a link or even a list of authors I could look up?
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"
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 also sounds completely unlike the naive framing above alleging that bank employees are able to take your money
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.
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.
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.
It seems very unrealistic to assume to 0.5% security and operational expertise for anything pitched as a general solution.
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.
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'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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They're selling shovels.
Goldman-Sachs doesn't have to care if the goldrush is real or not, so long as they can sell shovels.
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's certainly not the largest bubble in absolute terms, not even close.
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.
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.
Guess we'll find out.
Or just like bubbles
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?
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.
Few are that high profile, or in that specific field.
Good for the time, no, you shouldn't have one in your garage.
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.
Can you mention one of them? And his/her knowledgable argument.
> useless fraud!
It's already been used to solve real world problems:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Their prop traders won’t be trading directly against you with the bank’s money.
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.
Bitcoin probably won't cure cancer, but Goldman isn't in the business of curing cancer anyway...
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.
Today, someone (me) says: in the future, first world central banks will hold bitcoin as a reserve among the usual things (dollars, euros, gold, ...)
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."
Here are my BigQuery queries:
7 years on, the only thing Bitcoin is actually useful for (as in better than the alternatives) is buying drugs.
> 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.
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.
edit: And in come the down votes. Cognitive dissonance is a cruel mistress.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today, someone (me) says: in the future, most cryptocurrencies will trade at ~$1 per coin (BTC, ETH, ...)
Will you sell me a call option?
Similarly, I doubt that GS commodity traders have warehouses full of gold/silver/oil.
It's pretty common for commodity traders to buy commodity warehouse operators.
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.