The next phase in the Bitcoin revolution will be the standardization of the exchanges where in fact the coins are traded. Bitcoin is currently in the open 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 through the entire ages. Like silver and gold, Bitcoin is only worth what the other person is willing to pay you for it. This has led to cheating since trading began. Crooked scales and filled ore all became part of the norm as both miners and the assayers sought to pad their bottom lines. This resulted in governmental oversight and the creation of centralized exchanges.
The Bitcoin dream has been to police its own 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, shut down because of security breach and theft of approximately $300 million worth of Bitcoin. Customers who had Bitcoin on deposit with Mt. Gox still do not know how much they’ll get back. The issues at Mt. Bitcoin Revolution Site lay bare the cyber security argument. Surprisingly, Bitcoin as a currency shows remarkable resilience. This resilience may be just the boost needed to legitimize the currency and the lean towards governmental involvement which 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 through a swap-execution facility or, centralized exchange. Almost all commercial currency trading is done through swaps agreements which explains why we follow the commercial traders inside our own trading. A swap agreement is basically an insurance policy that delivers a guaranteed value at a specific 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 individual swap is small however the sheer volume of swaps processed makes it a huge revenue source for all 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 when confronted with the Mt. Gox debacle is a testament to the power of a worldwide grassroots movement. Bitcoin should have plunged around the world as owners of Bitcoins tried to switch them for hard currency. The market’s response ended up being very orderly. While prices did fall across the board, the market appeared to understand that it was an individual company’s problem and was therefore confined to Mt. Gox customers’ capability to get their money out. Due to this fact, Bitcoin prices have stabilized around $585. This is well off the December most of $1,200 but very near the average price going back six months.
The last coincidentally timed piece of the structural transformation from Bitcoin being an anarchist, alternative store of value that exists outside the institutionalized financial industry to being integrated into that same economic climate is its ability to be taxed by the brick and mortar governments it had been developed to circumvent. The Internal Revenue Service finally decided enough will do also it wants its cut. The IRS has declared Bitcoin as property instead of currency and is therefore at the mercy of property laws instead of currency laws. This allows the IRS to get their share while legitimizing the need for a central exchange to see value. In addition, it eliminates arguments with the U.S. Treasury and Congress over legal tender issues. It’s simply valued as a good that could be exchanged for other goods and services, barter.
Bitcoin is really a global marketplace executing transactions on an electronic network. That sounds a lot just like the forex markets. Industry regulators and the banking industry are likely to quickly discover that the failure of Mt. Gox has done 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 government to protect its folks from crooked exchanges just as 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 right time with the right idea as Bitcoin could have proven itself to be self-sustaining at the retail level. Institutional and legal structures are increasingly being put in place to continue its evolution because the financial industry is left to figure out how to monetize it.