Bitcoins: The future of money?

Moderated by Andrew Nusca | October 7, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: The FBI's shutdown of Silk Road rekindles discussion about the prospects for that site's preferred currency.

Robin Harris

Robin Harris




Michael Krigsman

Michael Krigsman

Best Argument: Yes


Audience Favored: Yes (77%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Freedom-loving people will embrace it

Robin Harris: The US banking system has become an extension of the NSA and the surveillance state. We need a currency that allows citizens to keep their private affairs private. Bitcoin is such a currency and freedom loving people should and will embrace it.

But Bitcoins - or something like it - are the future because it is already the present. Most transactions in America are already bits moved around a network, not physical currency.

These bits are denominated in dollars but there is no reason they have to be. America has a national currency because laws made it so. And any law can be changed.

Even if we keep the dollar, individuals and businesses can agree to acccept other currencies, as many already accept Bitcoin. Internet-based disintermediation has hit virtually every industry. Money is next.

Will become a niche financial services product

Michael Krigsman: Bitcoin’s appeal lies in being anonymous, untraceable, and unregulated. These attributes give the virtual currency appeal to a broad spectrum to constituents – speculators and investors, entrepreneurs, and the criminal underworld including drug traffickers, terrorists, and anyone wanting to circumvent currency or tax regulations.

Recent events such as the shutdown of Bitcoin marketplace Silk Road, where anyone could purchase drugs, guns, and even hire a contract killer, demonstrate the government’s serious position on regulating Bitcoin. At the same time, financial regulators have taken steps to pull Bitcoin toward compliance with currency laws.

Once speculation subsides and financial laws are in place, Bitcoin will survive as a niche source of barter, purchase, and exchange. Just as credit card transactions are tracked and reported, without anonymity, Bitcoin will eventually be brought into the mainstream.

Bitcoin’s long-term future is being a regulated financial instrument that serves certain purposes; in other words, once the dust settles, Bitcoin will become a niche financial services product. Is Bitcoin the future of money? Not a chance.


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  • Bitcoins - Freedom Loving People Will Embrace It

    I'm with Robin on this one. Sorry Michael, you have some points, and maybe it's just me, but do I detect a subtle amount of cynicism toward all of the (IMO) right reasons for bitcoins?

    Besides, like certain other inanimate objects capable of great harm (and secret transactions via bitcoins can have their own set of harmful least as far as the all knowing/all controlling big brother is concerned), "If bitcoins are outlawed, only outlaws will use bitcoins."

    I say use bitcoins even if they become regulated as money is regulated. Then, a new version of bitcoins that are not regulated should be adopted to maintain the anonymity that bitcoins were once intended to provide. I'm sure that'll be illegal, but so what? Rights aren't given by our government, nor do they come from our Constitution. Because they are "natural", every man and women possesses them. The problems occur when we stop utilizing them, by force when necessary.
    BTW: I couldn't figure out which option to select ("I'm for Yes" or "I'm for No"). Were these options referring to bitcoins or the two viewpoints presented?
    Reply 25 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Trying to create a nanny state is never a good reason to do something

      If the argument against bitcoin is it allows people to make purchases outside the police state control, the next thing they will try to do is outlaw money so that the police state can have a digital anal probe up everyone's wallets more than they already do.
      Reply 20 Votes I'm Undecided
  • Potentially long term, yes, future? Not so much

    Whilst I can see either BitCoin or a BitCoin derivative being around in the future, I can't see any uncontrolled currency as being allowed to run riot throughout the worlds economies.

    Equally I can't see major vendors as being interested in a currency that's volatile and susceptible to basic programming decisions (e.g. the March 2013 0.7 Fork debacle).

    So, on the face of it, I'm going to have to go for a No.
    Lost In Clouds of Data
    Reply 20 Votes I'm for No
    • March 2013 0.7 Fork debacle was more a success than anything else.

      The "debacle" was probably the best example of a decentralized current that fix thing quick without any cost or problem. The protocol is well created an problem like this fork can occured at any times, but they are quickly resolved. Wall street and banks have bigger problem than that and more often.
      Jean-Claude Morin
      Reply 7 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Merchants can avoid the volatility trivially

      Charging in Bitcoins is cheaper than charging in either cash or with credit cards. What merchant would not want to improve their profit margins?
      Reply 15 Votes I'm Undecided
    • re: Potentially long term, yes, future? Not so much

      Are you speaking for yourself, or for those who would enslave us?
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
  • thoughts

    "Most transactions in America are already bits moved around a network, not physical currency."

    Yeah, it kinda cuts both ways - our own currency is already mostly digital, with most of my transactions never touching physical currency.

    "Internet-based disintermediation has hit virtually every industry. Money is next."

    I'd say it's already hit money, as indicated above. What I regularly pay bills with is called "dollars," but it's all done over the internet.

    "Bitcoin’s appeal lies in being anonymous, untraceable, and unregulated."

    Attributes that honestly nobody except some edge cases (and most of those edge cases are black markets) desire to have in their currency.

    IMO Bitcoin, although a very interesting technology, solves the wrong problems, and thus won't really be appealing to most people.

    "Bitcoin will survive as a niche source of barter, purchase, and exchange. . . . Bitcoin will eventually be brought into the mainstream."

    Uh . . . so much for the law of non-contradiction. I err on the side of it will stay niche, and is unlikely to become mainstream.
    Reply 18 Votes I'm for No
    • As long as it is called Dollars, it's not disintermediated

      The dollar economy has arteries clogged with the gerrymandered rent-seeking captive regulation of two centures. It is ripe for failure.
      Reply 9 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Not sure how you go from voting to economy . . .

        Not sure to how you go from describing our voting structure to an economic argument.

        Yes, there are things that that we could improve with our voting, but I hardly think that has anything to do with dollars vs bitcoins.
        Reply 7 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Unregulated?

        I would add that either I must be an edge-case black-market fan, or my interpretation of "unregulated" (i.e. "value regulated only by free-market forces") must be different than Cobra's.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided