The next phase in the Bitcoin revolution is definitely the standardization of the exchanges where the coins are traded. Bitcoin is currently in the Wild West prospector days of its evolution. The planet has agreed a Bitcoin provides a stored way of measuring value just as that gold and silver have throughout the ages. Like gold and silver, Bitcoin is worth what your partner is ready to pay you for it. This has resulted in cheating since trading began. Crooked scales and filled ore all became area of the norm as both miners and the assayers sought to pad their bottom lines. This led to governmental oversight and the creation of centralized exchanges.
The Bitcoin dream has been to police its community and remain beyond the physical scrutiny of any global government. The Utopian dream was shattered a month ago when Mt. Gox, undoubtedly the largest Bitcoin exchange, turn off because of security breach and theft of approximately $300 million worth of Bitcoin. Customers who had Bitcoin on deposit with Mt. Gox still have no idea how much they’ll get back. The problems at Mt. Gox lay bare the cyber security argument. Surprisingly, Bitcoin as a currency has shown remarkable resilience. This resilience may be just the boost needed to legitimize the currency and the lean towards governmental involvement that could actually help this fledgling store of value soar to its mainstream potential.
The timing of the Mt. Gox incident may end up being a boon for the currency. Tera Group, out of Summit New Jersey, already had proposed a bilateral agreement to the Commodity Trading Futures Commission (CFTC) to begin trading Bitcoins by way of a swap-execution facility or, centralized exchange. Almost all commercial currency trading is performed through swaps agreements which is why we follow the commercial traders inside our own trading. A swap agreement is actually an insurance policy that provides a guaranteed value at a particular point in time to protect against currency fluctuations. It’s what the commodity exchanges are founded on. The swap markets will be the superhighways of the financial industry. They process massive volumes while collecting a small toll on each transaction. Therefore, the price on the average person swap is small but the sheer volume of swaps processed makes it a huge revenue source for several of the major banks.
The CFTC has yet to comment on Tera Group’s proposal. We commented in November that Bitcoin had transcended novelty status and that the revenue pool was becoming too big for global banks to ignore. Bitcoin’s resilience in the face of the Mt. Gox debacle is really a testament to the energy of a global grassroots movement. Bitcoin should have plunged around the world as owners of Bitcoins tried to exchange them for hard currency. The market’s response ended up being very orderly. While prices did fall over the board, the market appeared to understand that it was an individual company’s problem and was therefore confined to Mt. Gox customers’ ability to get their money out. Consequently, Bitcoin prices have stabilized around $585. This is well off the December most of $1,200 but very close to the average price going back six months.
The last coincidentally timed piece of the structural transformation from Bitcoin as an anarchist, alternative store of value that exists beyond your institutionalized financial industry to being integrated into that same economic climate is its ability to be taxed by the offline governments it had been developed to circumvent. The Internal Revenue Service finally decided enough is enough and it wants its cut. The IRS has declared Bitcoin as property instead of currency and is therefore subject to property laws instead of currency laws. This enables the IRS to get their share while legitimizing the need for a central exchange to ascertain value. In addition, it eliminates arguments with the U.S. Treasury and Congress over legal tender issues. It’s simply valued as a good which might be exchanged for other goods and services, barter.
Bitcoin is a global marketplace executing transactions on an electronic network. That sounds an awful lot like the forex markets. Bitcoin Revolution and the banking industry are going to quickly find that the failure of Mt. Gox did more to encourage the average person resolve of global Bitcoin users rather than ending this upstart’s existence. Private users of Bitcoin will clamor for the federal government to protect its people from crooked exchanges in the same way farmers were cheated in the grain trade of ancient Egypt or gold and cattle by assayers and stockyards in the open West. Tera Group could be in the right place at the proper time with the right idea as Bitcoin could have proven itself to be self-sustaining at the retail level. Institutional and legal structures are being put in place to continue its evolution as the financial industry is left to figure out how to monetize it.