The future of the anonymous marketplace has been the subject of much scrutiny among virtual currency advocates and dissenters alike over the last few weeks.
Government interest in putting an end to illicit cross-border trading has escalated since the US government put paid to the alleged money laundering mal-intent of Liberty Reserve, culminating in last week’s seizure of Silk Road.
Just a few days prior, Litecoin-supporting anonymous marketplace Atlantis went west, sparking speculation that the owners favored voluntary cessation over compulsory.
Most certainly, a crossroads has been reached whereby the idea of virtual currency moving increasingly into the mainstream could become further legitimized because of the downfall of marketplaces which engender illicit business forms one possible outcome, with a potential polar outcome if the currency is destined to remain away from the mainstream, with criminal activity its key driver of value.
Forex Magnates spoke to Mauro Betschart, CEO and Founder of BTC Global in order to ascertain the viewpoint from what is now a post-Silk Road industry.
“I have had, since I got involved with Bitcoin, a love-hate relationship with silk road. I loved it because I know Bitcoin would not have grown as much as it did and would not have become known if it was not for silk road. On the other hand, I despised the fact that some of the things traded there were morally questionable (And I don’t mean a sale of marijuana)” Mr. Betschart explained to Forex Magnates.
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He went on to say that “Nevertheless, I know that the public opinion, due to lack of information or simple prejudice, was directly relating Bitcoin to the illegal marketplace where very bad people hang out, and this did not help its cause. So, in a way, I think this moves Bitcoin a little closer to the masses.”
As far as the end being nigh for anonymous marketplaces, Mr. Betschart considers the recent activity to be the tip of the iceberg, and that the demand for deep web purchasing activity will continue: “I know that there will always be open marketplaces that use cryptocoins on the deep web, but to have the biggest and most known one taken down is what the public needed to hear.”
Government Intervention Lead To Volatility…..
Mr. Betschart observed that: “There is also a very interesting fact to look at, and that is the variation of the bitcoin price after the news came out” stated Mr. Betschart. “As expected, it dropped pretty fast for about one hour. It went from $140 to $115 (mtgox price), but then it bounced back up to $130 in less than 20 minutes.”
…..Followed By Stability
“About 48 hours later it was back up to $135, proving without any doubt that bitcoin does not depend on Silk Road” he confirmed. “Even if I’m not happy to see the free marketplace being shut down, as someone who wants to bring Bitcoin to the masses I can only say that this is a point to prove the maturity of Bitcoin. Also, it just destroyed one of the most powerful popular arguments against Bitcoin, in that it is considered to be drug money by dissenters.”
As far as Mr. Betschart’s view on the attempts at retribution which have been directed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation by Silk Road users and supporters, he told Forex Magnates that: “To the trolls that are directing their efforts at the FBI, I don’t think much will happen. Ignoring them will be a lot more profitable than prosecuting them.
Mr. Betschart concluded by inferring that: “The authorities might do something with the Silk Road user data though, if they have it.”
The future of virtual currency, with or without anonymity of trading outlets, is indeed becoming further cemented. As the legitimacy of online deep web market places becomes a subject of governmental discussion, it will be interesting to note the direction which use of Bitcoin as an everyday unit of currency takes, with virtual ATMs and merchant acceptability, compared with its use amid the anonymous world of cyberspace.