Bitcoin is a speculative corner of the market. To get a better understanding of it read this article by Brian Wesbury in the WSJ:
Right now, total cash and deposits in the U.S. banking system (the M2 money supply), is roughly $11 trillion. Assuming 21 million Bitcoins are mined and they become an accepted currency, each one could be worth as much as $524,000. This is a massive potential appreciation from their current level.
However, the list of companies that accept Bitcoin as payment for actual transactions make up what I estimate to be less than one-hundredth of a percent of all spending, or GDP. Since money gets its value from the goods, services and assets that it can purchase, a Bitcoin is currently worth only 0.01% of its true potential, or about $52.40.
Bitcoins require storage space (in a computer), power to run the computer (electricity), security (from hacking), and computational power (serious encryption) on both sides of a transaction. There are firms that act as middlemen in Bitcoin transactions, and firms that make a market in Bitcoins, but they are new and have no serious financial track record. Many Bitcoin transactions facilitate illegal commerce. The Bitcoin world is not friction-free, or clean.
And is it really true that no more than 21 million Bitcoins can be produced? Hackers keep getting better, and the temptation to expand the supply of money has been powerful (and profitable, for the issuer) since the time of the Romans. These costs and questions all impact the value of a Bitcoin substantially.
To become a real alternative currency, Bitcoins must be recognized by a majority of businesses and consumers. They must be as safe, or safer, than currency issued by a central bank. And they must be transportable. Currently, the Bitcoin does not meet any of these requirements, and this is why it is trading for much less than its actual convertible U.S. dollar value.
If you believe Bitcoin in time will become an alternative to the world’s currencies, there are huge potential profits as the value of a Bitcoin rises to $524,000—or higher if drug dealers and other nefarious users are willing to pay a premium for anonymity.
But to be truly successful, Bitcoins have to win the battle of money on all levels of competition and that is a very high hurdle to clear.
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