Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bitcoin's Store of Value Paradox

Can bitcoin succeed as a store of value even if it does not succeed as a medium of exchange?

In the early stages of bitcoin adoption that we are in now, bitcoin only has a very limited use as a medium of exchange, especially when you compare it to the dollar or the euro. The expectation, however, is that this will change, that bitcoin eventually becomes widely used as a medium of exchange in the future. If it does, then demand for bitcoin and hence the price of bitcoin will be much higher than they currently are.

There have been several estimates and studies that tried to determine how much 1 bitcoin could be worth in the future and it is not uncommon for these studies to say that a $100,000 bitcoin or even a $1,000,000 bitcoin are very well possible if bitcoin were to become widely used as a medium of exchange. And it is the possibility of this big future price increase that is what is behind the current price.

Now what would happen if it becomes clear that bitcoins will not become a widely used medium of exchange in the future? The obvious answer would seem to be that the price would crash.

But once we look more closely at the logic that explains the value of bitcoin, this suddenly does not seem so obvious anymore.