The next phase in the Bitcoin revolution could be the standardization of the exchanges where the coins are traded. Bitcoin happens to be in the open West prospector days of its evolution. The planet has agreed that a Bitcoin provides a stored measure of value in the same way that silver and gold have throughout the ages. Like gold and silver, Bitcoin is only worth what the other person is ready to pay you for it. It has led to cheating since trading began. Crooked scales and filled ore all became the main 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 gone 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, turn off due to a security breach and theft of approximately $300 million worth of Bitcoin. coincapcentral who had Bitcoin on deposit with Mt. Gox still do not know how much they’ll get back. The issues at Mt. Gox 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. The vast majority of commercial currency trading is done through swaps agreements which is why we follow the commercial traders in 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 are the superhighways of the financial industry. They process massive volumes while collecting a small toll on each transaction. Therefore, the cost on the average person swap is small but the sheer volume of swaps processed makes it an enormous revenue source for several of the major banks.
The CFTC has yet to touch upon 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 global grassroots movement. Bitcoin must 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 across 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. Due to this fact, Bitcoin prices have stabilized around $585. This is well off the December high 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 being an anarchist, alternative store of value that exists outside the institutionalized financial industry to being built-into that same financial system is its capability 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 at the mercy of property laws rather than currency laws. This enables the IRS to get their share while legitimizing the necessity for a central exchange to see value. It also 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 like the forex markets. Industry regulators 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 instead of ending this upstart’s existence. Private users of Bitcoin will clamor for the federal government to protect its people 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 Wild West. Tera Group could be in the proper 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 being put in place to continue its evolution because the financial industry is left to determine how to monetize it.