Financial traders have a new toy:
Unlike conventional fiat money and other digital currencies, Bitcoin runs through a peer-to-peer network, independent of central control. Bitcoins are currently worth $4.88 each on online currency exchanges, where they can be bought and sold for about 15 world currencies.
Users – an odd assortment of uber-geeks, anarchists, libertarians, scammers and forex traders – sent about $4.3 million worth to each other in the last 24 hours.
Banking and payment expert Simon Lelieveldt believes they are living on borrowed time.
“There is always a power base underlying a currency,” he said, speaking at the Digital Money Forum in London in March.
“Bitcoin is not going to fly because there is no central bank or power base. It’s doomed to fail.”
But its separation from power is precisely what attracts many users.
“Bitcoin is not run by people with hot sexual appetites for hotel maids. It is not run by corporations. It is not governed by people with budgets to meet. It is governed by a mathematical formula,” one trader and Bitcoin enthusiast told Reuters over a pint of Guinness in London’s financial district.
He also likes that there is an absolute limit of 21 million Bitcoins built into the system.
“If you try to print more than 21 million Bitcoins, you will be rejected by cold, loveless computers whirring away in nerds’ garages. It is a better form of money than we have right now, or than anyone has designed so far.”
The trader, who was not willing to be named, said he spent four hours a day on Bitcoin, describing it as his second job. He estimated 90 percent of traders have bought it, most “looking for a quick 2,000 percent”.
He, however, is playing the long game, accumulating as much as possible in the belief that one day, he will own a small but significant percentage of a world currency with a fixed supply.
He and three other traders are currently seeking Bitcoin startups to invest in, he said, adding he was hoping to put in $300,000 worth.
WILD WEST FINANCE
He is not alone. Workers at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in London and New York have been visiting online Bitcoin exchanges as often as 30 times a day, according to documents seen by Reuters. Neither bank wanted to comment.
Employees at almost all the major international banks and numerous trading and investment firms have shown interest.
There is a Bitcoin stock exchange, where companies can make initial public offerings and pay dividends in Bitcoin.
One website offering Bitcoin options trading was ‘listed’ this month for an implied valuation of half a million dollars.
via Thomson Reuters ᔥ
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