If you are looking for more bullish analysis on the future of Bitcoins, you will be disappointed with investor’s Howard Lindzon’s take. Participating in This Week in Startups News Roundtable, host Jason Calacanis brought up the new Bitcoin ATM being launched in San Diego last week. For his part, Calacanis mentioned that his VC buddies continue to be bullish on the currency and one of his friends had even created a calculation that based on demand from participants of illegal activities that would be interested an anonymous method to store funds, the price could go to $500,000 (the whole segment was a comical and starts around 36:40). Lindzon wasn’t so convinced stating that “it had its tulip moment” and adding that “trust is a hard thing to corner.” Basically, he liked the idea of a global currency but viewed Bitcoins as a speculative story that got some attention thanks to Cyprus and dropping prices of technology. While not believing Bitcoins are worth investing in, he concluded that it will lead to “something more, more, more interesting than a bunch of VCs (venture capitalists) harvesting Bitcoins”.
Lindzon’s opinion comes after we saw major VC players talking up Bitcoins last week. However, Lindzon makes a few important points. First, and something we’ve been stating at Forex Magnates, is that this is just the start of a mass amount of innovation focusing on the payment transfer industry. So, Bitcoins may not become the ultimate winner in the space, but the P2P, cheap, efficient, mode of transfer will be. Secondly, the idea behind trust. While much of the current interest in Bitcoins is based on not trusting fiat currency and governments, a non-central backed currency has its own set of faith issues. Perhaps the biggest current worry is that Bitcoin exchanges don’t seem that reliable. Several have been shut down (Bitfloor, Bitcoin24), others are getting hit with DDoS attacks, while others are experiencing delays with their funding partners. As such, another key exchange getting taken out or some fake company running a scam, could hit the currency hard.
China Goes Long
Bitcoin interest is spiking in China as Chinese TV broadcaster CCTV aired a documentary on them. It was a basic documentary that explained what they were, mining, and followed the story of users. While not your prime-time TV, it has led to internet search providers seeing ‘through the roof’ queries about them. The interesting part here, is that CCTV is a national broadcaster. As such, this was a government approved showing, even as it provided its greater public with information about the digital currency that could potentially be used to skirt around government monetary regulations. Also, following the show, sourceforge.net reported Chinese originated downloaded of Bitcoin software as the leading country for downloads. The idea that the world’s largest market is getting hot about Bitcoins is obviously bullish for the currency and could create massive cross-border demand. (For more about China and Bitcoins, QZ had a solid write up about it last month)
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In a story first appearing in Bloomberg, they reported comments from Kirk Hope, chief executive officer of the New Zealand Bankers’ Association. Hope raised the idea that banks may create their own digital currencies with higher issuance limits than exist with Bitcoins. The interest is based on the low cost of international payments that Bitcoins provide. This continues the thesis mentioned above that we are seeing disruption take place, and it’s only a matter of time before more financial firms begin to enter the P2P space to rival existing ‘high cost’ offerings.
CoinLab Sues MtGox for $75 Million
Last but not least one of the biggest stories last week was CoinLab’s lawsuit against MtGox. CoinLab, a US based startup had partnered to become bitcoin exchange, MtGox’s US and Canadian exclusive agent. In our comments we promised a report about this story where CoinLab is suing for breach of contact. However, as MtGox hasn’t made a formal response yet other than stating “As we have just now received the complaint, neither MtGox nor our legal team can make any ofﬁcial comment on the matter at this time, but we take this very seriously and will respond appropriately and quickly once we have had time to review it,” we are going to wait until tomorrow before providing our analysis on the lawsuit.