Happy New Year!
Since everyone else is doing it, I thought that it would be fun to put together a list of my ten predictions for Bitcoin in 2014. (Spoiler: I am not going to predict the final price per bitcoin because those predications are universally garbage. Unless you are tothemoonguy
.) Without further ado, and in no particular order:
1) Regulatory Victories: Major nations in Europe and North America (including the U.S.) regulate Bitcoin as a commodity or security. Few if any treat Bitcoin as a true currency. That means that Bitcoin gains and losses will be taxable at long- and short-term rates, and wallet services will need to work quickly to provide accurate trading forms (with offsetting lots) for customers. Day-traders (including hobbyists) will likely need to register with the appropriate regulatory bodies to get preferential tax treatment. Silicon Valley tax lawyers rejoice when they see an influx of new business from Bitcoin's paper millionaires who are now panicked about paying taxes on the toys they purchased with appreciated bitcoin, cars, apartments, etc. By the end of 2014, China decides to get back into the game so they don't miss out on the next major tech boom.
2) Pot & Porn: Regardless of your personal values, marijuana and pornography are massive industries which straddle the line between legal and illegal. Don't expect BitPay or Coinbase to service these markets any time soon. Do expect one or more Bitcoin startups to focus nearly exclusively on these gray markets. Some will call them Silk Road Lites, I'll call them major money makers. (More tomorrow.)
3) Academic Interest: More academic study will lead to greater insights into the Bitcoin blockchain, price movements, and intrinsic value. I am personally interested, among other things, in using some of the blockchain's information to come up with a "fully-diluted" price for a bitcoin. Something that factors in a) the future bitcoins that will be mined on schedule, b) the estimated "dead" bitcoin from early miners who discarded or lost their private keys, c) the average sent vs. receipted split in bitcoin transactions, which affects the meaningfulness of "bitcoin days destroyed" - a weighted average bitcoin addresses that monitors how long they have been inactive. (Full topic next week.)
4) Wall Street Interest: 2014 will be the year that Bitcoin went Wall Street, if not mainstream. The Winklevii are still working on getting their ETF listed on major exchanges. SecondMarket's Bitcoin Investment Trust is a hot investment vehicle and now it seems that Fortress Investment Group and Pantera Capital have raised nearly $150mm for a new Bitcoin-related fund. Expect this to be the tip of the iceberg. I think we could see a major bank's trading desk integrate Bitcoin, and wouldn't be surprised to see a tiny startup like Coinsetter get swooped up for an eye-popping amount as a strategic acquisition / acquihire.
5) Volatility is Addressed: Bitcoin is still missing mainstream consumers. Without consumers, there will be limited demand for merchants to accept bitcoin. Without a vibrant transaction system, there will be limited value in bitcoin to investors. Without consumers, merchants and investors, bitcoins become worthless and the Bitcoin technology loses steam. Expect some new ventures to successfully tackle this volatility problem, including my company Inscrypto. Bitcoin doesn't need to be a currency, it simply needs to look and feel and act like one for non-investors.
6) Financial Cowboys Get Rich: Holy crap, I wish that I were a tech-savvy Wall Street guy because Bitcoin is a FinTech experts wet dream. Institutions might have to wait until the regulatory bodies green light their activity in Bitcoin, but individual day traders have no such restrictions. There are massive arbitrage opportunities between exchanges. Chartists can actually make money by exploiting trends that make the illiquid market inefficient for the time being. Trading algorithms may be written that improve system-wide liquidity and enrich their authors. Wild.
7) Entrepreneurs Solve Problems: Some of bitcoin's biggest critiques (volatility, illiquidity, etc.) will yield tremendous innovations in 2014. All an entrepreneur with a bitcoin obsession needs to do is spend a day on /bitcoin
and he'll come up with a dozen startup ideas. As one MIT Sloan student asked me: "Can't you just take anything in financial services and make a bitcoin version?" Pretty much, yeah. That's why so many people are salivating.
8) Bitcoin Remains the Dominant Crypto: Bitcoin's healthy alt-currency ecosystem is good for Bitcoin the technology platform because it provides a back-up plan to any existential threat to bitcoin the currency. That said, the majority of developer talent is building on top of the Bitcoin protocol first, and the new layers and applications that are created this year will continue to strengthen the overall Bitcoin ecosystem. Expect Bitcoin to remain the gold standard of crypto-currencies, and Litecoin and others to maintain their silver, bronze and honorable mention status.
9) Bitcoin as Legal Tender: No, it's not going to happen in the U.S. any time soon. But I'd expect some countries to start storing bitcoin in their central banks in the new year. It's got similar properties to gold as a long-term store of value and the potential for exponential growth. In addition, I'd expect at least some government to accept bitcoin for taxes. Could be a national government or a struggling domestic municipality, maybe Vicco, Kentucky.
10) Price Appreciation: I'm not going to venture a guess into the future value of Bitcoin, but suffice it to say, I believe strongly that the currency will continue to appreciate significantly. Regulatory clarity, greater consumebusiness exposure, insane levels of developer interest, eye-popping investor interest from Wall Street and the VC community, and layers of innovations on top of the underlying Bitcoin protocol will outweigh any negatives. Moreover, the early adopters in Bitcoin aren't selling any time soon. Over half of Bitcoiners polled by Coindesk believe that Bitcoin will go above $10k USD in 2014. Absurd, but shows that this community isn't simply waiting to cash out when the Greater Fools make their buys.
So there they are. My professional crystal-ball predictions for 2014, which are incredibly safe and non-sensational. I look forward to checking in on them in six and twelve months, and hopefully becoming a rich man in the process. To the moon!
Finance: The police chief of a Vicco, Kentucky is set to get his salary digitally. The tiny town with population 335 has passed an ordinance allowing it to pay its police chief, Tony... [Dec 5, 2013, 4:05 am] Nachrichten, dass ein Kleinstadt-Polizeichef von Vicco, Kentucky, sein Gehalt in Bitcoin akzeptieren wird, hat das Netz durch Sturm genommen. Später wird Viccos Bürgermeister Johnny Cummings die Transaktion machen: Bitcoin aus der Brieftasche der Stadt zum Polizeichef Tony Vaughn. "Die Stadt hat jetzt ein Bitcoin-Konto", erklärte Cummings, "Donnerstag ist die Lohnfrist so heute werden wir ... City employees in Vicco, Kentucky could be receiving their paychecks in the form of bitcoin as early as this month after officials there agreed on Monday to begin compensating the chief of police with the emerging crypto-currency. Kentucky police chief to be paid in Bitcoin. As the virtual currency rockets toward a trading value of $1,200, Tony Vaughn of tiny Kentucky town Vicco is trading in his bank account for a Bitcoin ... A small town in Kentucky by the name of Vicco will be paying its police chief in bitcoin following the passing of an ordinance that allowed Chief Tony Vaughn to take home his salary in the digital currency, a month after the Chief appeared before commission to request the change.
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