Bitcoin Is Still a Speculative Asset, Not a Currency

bitcoin - Bitcoin Is Still a Speculative Asset, Not a Currency

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Bitcoin has always had major American players in its ecosystem. Coinbase, one of the largest exchanges, is American.

But as China has cracked down on cryptocurrency, closing news sites and telling hotels not to host crypto events, banning its use on payment networks like Alipay, and blocking access to offshore bitcoin exchanges, American players have shown renewed interest.

The result is that the cryptocurrency’s prices have shrugged off the Chinese moves. As of Aug. 24, bitcoin was trading at $6,546, slightly higher than it had been a week ago, and with a market cap of $112 billion. That’s slightly more than Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) is worth.

Possible Regulatory Relief

This comes as U.S. investors are finally able to buy a bitcoin instrument on U.S. exchanges. Well, it’s a Swedish exchange-traded note called Bitcoin Tracker One (OTC:CXBTF), but it’s traded in dollars.

While the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continues to reject efforts at creating bitcoin ETFs, at least one commissioner, Trump appointee Hester Peirce, has dissented claiming the agency overstepped its authority. The agency is said to be “reviewing” its decisions.

The Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE) (owners of the New York Stock Exchange) has created Bakkt, which proposes to offer one-day futures contracts on bitcoin. It has partners like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), which want a share of the data and payment traffic.

Bitcoin Bulls Ride Again

The biggest bitcoin bulls are now American, like venture capitalist Tim Draper, who has publicly predicted that it will reach $250,000 by 2022 and even posted a song about it.

Bulls speculate that the President himself has bought the cryptocurrency, which is why the Administration hasn’t followed through on threats last October to ban it.

Countries the U.S. is isolating, from Turkey to Iran, are all said to be looking to bitcoin for salvation. Reports that Germany wants a payment system free of American participation is also seen as bullish for the cryptocurrency.

Stability Needed

While bulls continue to predict big things, and bears predict an imminent collapse, what the bitcoin markets need more than anything right now is price stability.

An asset class subject to wild price swings can’t be a medium of exchange. You can’t export a shipload of American flags from China based on bitcoin when you don’t know what they will be worth when they arrive.

The more stable the price of cryptocurrencies becomes, the more useful it becomes as a medium of exchange. The best thing for bitcoin might be that we all shut up about it.

Another factor in creating stability might be to reduce bitcoin’s energy use. The energy use of mining it, even of maintaining its blockchain, makes it unacceptable as a mass financial medium.

A Moroccan wind farm may eventually provide for stable, environmentally friendly power, and a New York miner is also looking to use hydroelectric power. China’s crackdown may benefit crypto’s reputation because miners there were buying coal-fired electricity.

The Bottom Line on Bitcoin

Price stability, an exhaustion of bears and a lower profile generally may all help bitcoin to a real future.

But the value of any currency is based on what you can do with it. It’s here that the SEC may be doing its best work, pursuing Initial Coin Offering (ICO) scams and working to educate consumers on with a spoof site.

But until people other than bitcoin traders are making money with it, the cryptocurrency will remain a speculative asset, not a currency.

Dana Blankenhorn is a financial and technology journalist. He is the author of a mystery novella involving bitcoin, The Reluctant Detective Saves the World, available now at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at or follow him on Twitter at @danablankenhorn. As of this writing, he owned shares in MSFT. To follow the value of cryptocurrencies bookmark

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