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July 02, 2014

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne Discusses Bitcoin

This post brought to you by Deep Capture Blog. All opinions are 100% mine.

Cryptocurrency. 

The very term sounds so intriguing.  And it is -- after all, media of exchange independent of government and made secure by computer cryptography is a neat sounding idea.  If you are into computers and/or economics, you already know about the big one, Bitcoin.  After all, it is becoming more and more accepted online and has been in the news a great deal over the last several months.

Yhis leads me to the keynote address given by Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne at Bitcoin2014 annual conference earlier this year.  Byrne suggests that cryptocurrencies like BitCoin are the wave of the future and will become the standard way of engaging in economic transactions.  As I understand Byrne's position, he expects government-backed currencies to fade as increasing national debt and economic crises undermine those traditional currencies.  What's more, he expects these privately created currencies to increase economic opportunity worldwide as they gain consumer trust in a world of failing national currencies and central banks.  Byrne is even putting his money where his mouth is by having Overstock.com begin to accept Bitcoins as payment and even keeping a percentage of the company's cash reserves in that cryptocurrency.

What do I think about all this?  I'm not sure sure that I am ready to become an avid supporter of Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin like Byrne.  I am a big fan of allowing the market to work with minimal government regulation and intervention, and believe that the market can and will fill any niche where there is a need and a market.  But let's be honest -- there have been problems with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.  In the last several months we have seen the collapse of the Mt. Gox BitCoin exchange, followed by the by the Canada-based Flexcoin exchange.  Those who had their Bitcoins "on deposit" with these sites have seen their seemingly secure cryptocurrency assets wiped out.  Until some way of securing the stability and liquidity of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can develop, I don't know that we can have the confidence that it will maintain consumer confidence (and therefore value).  But then again, given the economic times we live in, do we have such confidence in the government-issued fiat currencies that are the current media of exchange around the world?

Feel free to comment here --or even to engage with Patrick Byrne on Twitter.

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