25 October 2014

Bitcoin not a currency but has tech potential - Goldman Sachs

13 March 2014  |  5450 views  |  7 bitcoin

Far from taking off as a new currency, the true value of Bitcoin lies in its potential to transform existing payments networks, say Goldman Sachs analysts in a comprehensive report into the budding crypto-currency.

In a report drawing on contributions from Goldman analysts and outside experts, Bitcoin's value as a currency is widely derided, largely because of its volatility.

Say Dominic Wilson and Jose Ursua from GS market research: "Put simply, if you hold cash today in most developed countries, you know within a few percentage points what you will be able to buy with it a day, a week or a year from now.

"There is no obvious mechanism that ensures that bitcoin will achieve that stability."

Eric Posner from the University of Chicago dismisses Bitcoin as a credible alternative to fiat currencies, arguing that the entire libertarian attitude is incorrect and that government control of the money supply is vital to a stable economy.

However, contributors to the report do see promise in the ledger-based technology that underlines crypto-currencies.

Roman Leal, Goldman IT services analyst says that the Bitcoin network successfully bypasses some of the money transfer hurdles traditional banking systems face, making it simpler and cheaper to move funds, particularly across borders.

Leal argues that the biggest hurdle for Bitcoin is in maintaining these advantages as traditional payment players reduce their profit margins and potentially co-opt the technology.

"While it is too early to tell how banks and payment processors will react to the threat of Bitcoin, we believe that it is only a matter of time before major incumbents develop a digital currency strategy," concludes Leal.

Could Bitcoin and the flood of crypto-currencies be as transformational for the world of currencies as the World Wide Web? This is the question we'll be asking at Finextra Future Money, a two-day event in Canary Wharf exploring the new wave of innovation sweeping across the financial services sector.

Comments: (7)

Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 13 March, 2014, 11:27

Has any independent security analysis of the Bitcoin architecture ever been performed? Why does everyone assume it is secure? On the basis of what? Its distributed architecture? Complexity does not mean security...

Every system and every cryptoprotocol has vulnerabilities and "weak links"? BTC is presented as faultless and infallible Holy Grail. Why?!

 

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Andrew Smith - CloudZync - London | 13 March, 2014, 11:30

I find this a little curious. If I can exchange something for goods or services, then it is a currency of sorts. The fact that its not always easy to measure the value of that "something" doesnt detract from the fact it is still currency.

There are lots of examples where things are used as currency, just look at prison environments, here we see various currencies in action, though its not immediate or obvious to measure that value of the currency based on what you get in return, the fact remains it is still a currency that fluctuates in its value based on other factors.

I think the real issue is that Bitcoin value isnt easy to measure based on typical economic factors that we have understood for many years now. Those leavers are different, and when we come to terms with that, we will be able to measure Bitcoin value more accurately. The fact we havent, doesnt mean its not a currency, IMHO.

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Russell Bell - Fastbase Ltd - Wellington | 14 March, 2014, 23:43

Regarding fallibility: Bitcoin isn't a closed system.  Security analysts don't need an invitation, they can hunt for vulnerabilities any time they like.  Anyone who does find a serious fault or failing in the Bitcoin architecture can look forward to lots of attention and wide publication (for the academically motivated) or the chance of huge financial reward (for those with less noble motives).  No doubt some parties regard Bitcoin as a competitor so have motive to discredit it.

With such incentives and completely open access it's no surprise a great many individuals and organisations (with all kinds of motives) have been looking very hard for flaws.  Despite all that attention no fatal flaw has yet been uncovered, and that's what Bitcoin's security reputation (such as it is) rests on.

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A Finextra member | 15 March, 2014, 05:21

Any "independent security analysis" or regulation is utterly irrelevant to the future of Bitcoin and its crypto cousins.  To think otherwise is to be stuck in the Money 1.0 mindset, where we are all sheep blindly doing what we are told and believing the main stream media - serfs to the creators of capital - those who "care not who make the laws" [sic: Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild].  You can discuss it for all you're worth but the ship already sailed.  For the citizens of the world to chose how to transact, rather than being coerced through law and regulation into using TPTB issued (and inflated) fiat, is the ultimate in global democratic power.  Inflation is legalised theft, discriminating against those least able to protect themselves from its ravages.  Bitcoin is anti-inflationary.  Bitcoin will succeed of fail through the consensus of the peoples of the world, not through government or regulatory decree.  You and I will transact with each other using whatever means we find convenient, cost effective, least invasive of our privacy, most secure, etc.  It is above governments, supra-national, beyond regulation.  It is eCash meets BitTorrent meets public key cryptogtaphy.  It is open source (there's your security audit - go read the source code on github), trustless and therefore open to all with no access control required, secured through the distributed consensus of computational proof of work (a very alien concept it takes a lot of work to get your head wrapped around) rather than passwords or physical access controls.  There is no central authority to issue, regulate, discriminate, inflate or generally corrupt.  It has done for transacting what email did for corresponding.  Finally a money that is fit for the internet age.

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Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 15 March, 2014, 08:29 Funny how many people confuse such terms as money, currency, and value whilst misunderstanding (or not fully comprehending) the nature and mechanics of economy (on a country and global levels). That's before we touch the issue of (government) regulation, whether it concerns fiat money or me putting a gun to your head because I think I am right and you are wrong (and there is no law or no trust in the law to prevent me from doing so because we choose to be "free" and take things into our own hands). Oh, I forgot to mention human psychology and perception of security and trust, as well as real-world implication of lack of regulations - "open source" surgeons or pilots anyone?..
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A Finextra member | 17 March, 2014, 11:29

Personally I think some comments would be better received if the author resisted quoting from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or some other conspiracy gibberish. This isn't Reddit.

 

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A Finextra member | 19 March, 2014, 15:34

Quite right this isn't Reddit, so why shroud your valuable comments in the cloak of anonymity.

I parry your literary reference with The Creature From Jekyll Island - an important read for anyone wanting to understand the origins of the FED.  When Woodrow Wilson had explained to him what he'd really done after signing into law the Federal Reserve Act in Dec 1913, he wrote "I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men".  Truly prescient words - Patriot Act, suspension of habeas corpus, extra-judicial executions, NSA scandals, etc.

And please remind me, how are we doing with that 100 year long experiment in central bank decreed inflation of fiat money backed solely by "men with guns" (sic. Paul Krugman, NY Times) which a recent report from BoE unwittingly admitted has become corrupted even from its original flawed intentions ? It seems to be in its death throws with global competitive devaluation and exponential legalised counterfitting aka theft.  Recast QE as the equivalent bank bail-in and the people hit the streets as they did in Cyprus.  How interesting that the centenery of the FED was only mentioned in the alt media, certainly not the MSM.  To celebrate such an auspicious event would have had too many reading up on the FED's origins, ownership, etc.  Henry Ford had something to say about this “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”  Hence all the current day speculation about the real purpose of the FEMA camps and accompanying huge orders for disposable coffins, alarming volumes of hollow point ammunition, etc.

Check out Eisenhower's valedictory speech where he both christened and warned of the "industrial military complex".  Truth is the US economy never moved on from its WW2 transformation, and the money masters need perpetual war to keep the machine running.  But we've seen that movie a few times before - Mongol, Roman, British, ... they all run their course, and we're seeing signs of twilight of the latest sequel.

So I'm sorry to get all Reddit on ya again.  Stay in the Matrix if you wish, but I won't be seeing you there.

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