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 that a Bitcoin provides a stored way of measuring value in the same way that gold and silver have throughout the ages. Like silver and gold, Bitcoin is worth what your partner is ready to pay you for it. It has resulted in cheating since trading began. Crooked scales and filled ore all became part of the norm as both the 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 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 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 issues 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 needed to legitimize the currency and the lean towards governmental involvement that may actually help this fledgling store of value soar to its mainstream potential.
The timing of the Mt. Bitcoin Era Review may end up being a boon for the currency. Tera Group, out of Summit NJ, already had proposed a bilateral agreement to the Commodity Trading Futures Commission (CFTC) to begin with 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 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 are 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 but the sheer level of swaps processed makes it a huge 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 large for global banks to ignore. Bitcoin’s resilience when confronted with 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 across the board, the market seemed to understand that it was a person company’s problem and was therefore confined to Mt. Gox customers’ capability to get their money out. As a result, 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 as an anarchist, alternative store of value that exists beyond your institutionalized financial industry to being built-into that same economic climate is its ability to be taxed by the brick and mortar governments it had been developed to circumvent. THE INNER Revenue Service finally decided enough will do and it wants its cut. The IRS has declared Bitcoin as property rather than currency and is therefore subject to property laws rather than currency laws. This allows 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 that may be exchanged for other goods and services, barter.
Bitcoin is 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 going to quickly discover 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 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 open West. Tera Group may 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 increasingly being put in place to keep its evolution as the financial industry is left to determine how to monetize it.