The next phase in the Bitcoin revolution will 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 a Bitcoin provides a stored measure of value just as that silver and gold have through the entire ages. Like silver and gold, Bitcoin is only worth what your partner is ready to pay you for it. It 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 gone 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, by far the largest Bitcoin exchange, shut down due to a 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 reunite. The problems at Mt. Gox lay bare the cyber security argument. Surprisingly, Bitcoin as a currency has shown remarkable resilience. This resilience could very well be just the boost had a need 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 prove to be 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. 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 actually an insurance policy that delivers a guaranteed value at a particular point in time to safeguard 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 little toll on each transaction. Therefore, the cost on the average person swap is small but the sheer level 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 in the face of the Mt. Gox debacle is a testament to the energy of a global grassroots movement. Bitcoin must have plunged across the globe as owners of Bitcoins tried to switch them for hard currency. The market’s response turned out to be very orderly. While prices did fall over the board, the market appeared to understand that it was a person company’s problem and was therefore confined to Mt. Gox customers’ capability to get their money out. Consequently, 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 little bit of the structural transformation from Bitcoin being an anarchist, alternative store of value that exists beyond your institutionalized financial industry to being integrated into that same financial system is its capability to be taxed by the brick and mortar governments it was 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 instead of currency laws. technical analysis enables 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 an awful lot just like the forex markets. Industry regulators and the banking industry are likely to quickly find 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 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 right place at the proper time with the proper idea as Bitcoin may 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 determine how to monetize it.