Average USD market price across major bitcoin exchanges blockchain.info

加密愚人金?

坎布里奇—加密货币比特币是当今世上最大的泡沫,还是押注于尖端新金融技术的伟达投资?我的最佳猜测是,从长期看,这项技术会繁荣,但比特币价格也会崩溃。

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如果你还不了解比特币的故事的话,它是这样的:比特币价格在过去12个月里上涨了600%,在过去24个月里上涨了1,600% 。如今,这种虚拟货币每个单位价格超过4,200美元(10月5日价格),是一盎司黄金价格的三倍多。一些比特币拥趸认为它还会在未来几年大幅上涨。

到底会怎样,在很大程度上取决于政府怎么做。政府会容忍方便避税和犯罪的匿名支付系统吗?政府会创造自己的数字货币吗?另一个关键问题是比特币的众多“另类货币”竞争对手们能够在多大呈上渗透这个市场。

理论上,克隆或改进比特币技术非常容易。不容易之处是复制比特币所建立的领先的信誉以及围绕它所建立起来的庞大的应用生态系统。

目前,监管环境仍然非常自由。中国政府担心比特币用于资本外逃和避税,最近禁止了比特币交易。另一方面,日本将比特币列为法定货币,显然希望借此成为全球金融技术中心。

美国也跟随日本的脚步,对监管金融技术做出了一些尝试,但结果到底怎样仍不清楚。重要的是,比特币并不需要在每条战线上都取得胜利才能证明它值高价。作为世界第三大经济体,日本的货币-收入比非常高(达到了20%左右),因此比特币在日本取得成功是一场重大胜利。

在硅谷,垂涎三尺的高管们同时投资于比特币和它的竞争对手们。除了比特币,最重要的以太坊(Ethereum)。以太坊有着亚马逊式的横扫一切的雄心,意欲让用户使用一样的通用技术,为一切东西谈判和制定“智能合同”。

10月初,以太坊市值大约为280亿美元,而比特币为720亿美元。由银行部门建立、可大幅降低同业和海外转账交易成本的平台Ripple名列第三,但遥遥落后,市值只有90亿美元。前三强之后还有数十家新晋竞争者。

大部分专家都认为,虚拟货币背后的精妙科技可以在网络安全方面起到广泛作用。目前,网络安全是全球金融体系所面临的最大额稳定性挑战之一。对许多开发者来说,实现更廉价、更安全的支付机制已经替代了比特币取代美元的野心。

但你如果认为比特币有望成为央行发行货币的补充,那就失之愚蠢了。政府允许用虚拟货币进行小型匿名交易,这是一回事,事实上,这是值得追求的事。但政府允许大规模匿名支付,从而让征税和打击犯罪活动变得极其困难,这就是截然不同的另一回事了。当然,我在关于过去、现在和未来的货币的近著中指出,发行大额钞票的政府也有可能会便利避税和犯罪。但现金和虚拟货币不同,它至少是实物存在。

看看日本的试验如何演进将是一件饶有兴致的事情。日本政府已经表明,它将强制要求比特币交易所接受犯罪行为监控并要收集关于比特币存款持有者的信息。尽管如此,我们仍然可以确定,全球避税者会设法匿名从国外获取比特币,然后通过日本账户将钱漂白。携带纸币进出一个国家对于避税者和罪犯来说代价高昂;接受虚拟货币的日本有可能成为瑞士式的避税港——银行保密法让位给了技术。

如果比特币失去了几乎匿名的特点,其当前价格便很难支撑。也许比特币投机客是下注于永远会找到流氓国家联盟允许使用匿名的比特币,甚至有朝鲜这样的国家会利用比特币。

如果政府能够完美地观察到交易情况,比特币价格是否会归零?也许不会。即使比特币交易需要大量电力,但只要稍加改进,比特币就能击败大银行对信用卡和借记卡所收的2%的费用。

最后,很难说有什么东西能够阻止央行创造自己的数字货币,并用监管手段给予它们竞争地位,直到它们胜出。漫长的货币史告诉我们,对于私人部门的创新发明,国家最终都会监管并收归己有。我不知道未来几年比特币价格会达到什么程度,但没有理由认为虚拟货币能逃脱同样的命运。

http://prosyn.org/1l4Bi3E/zh;

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