The hype about crypto currencies is coming to an end.
I have always been distrustful of crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ether. They made no sense to me. The person who invented the scheme stayed anonymous. The concept foresaw a limited number of total coins with new ones becoming exponentially harder to generate or 'mine'. This would continuously require exponentially more energy. At the core of crypto currencies is the blockchain, a public ledger which holds a record of every transaction. The 'mining' is needed to verify the blockchain ledger. This concept thus had always limits in its design which at some point would make a further expansion impossible.
While people who use Bitcoins can hide behind anonymous wallets which hold their coins any transfer from and to real money would need de-anonymization at some point of exchange. These entry and exits points from and to normal currencies were another major weakness of the whole scheme. Another one was the obvious usefulness of Bitcoins for spies, criminals and tax evaders. Sooner or later authorities would clamp down on them. That is why Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism had christened crypto currencies "prosecution futures".
Crypto currencies are not money. One can not pay ones taxes with them.
In the first years most Bitcoins were acquired to buy drugs or child porn on the darknet. There was then little police activity against those markets. But over time the officials got smarter. When they caught a child porn dealer they could use his wallet address and the public ledger to find everyone who had ever paid for the 'service'. Some of the exchanges, which also have bank-like functions, turned out to be run by criminals. They went bust and the people who had parked their bitcoins at that 'bank' lost their money.
Other exchanges, like Coinbase, went 'official' and even became listed at stock exchanges. But they soon had to agree to turn customer records over to the Justice Department for possible tax evasion and other investigations.
Some claim that crypto currencies are a good investment or inflation hedge. But their value can be manipulated which makes them extremely volatile.
There have been offers to donate to Moon or Alabama in crypto currencies. I never accepted any. It was not worth the potential risk of getting caught up in this or that criminal investigation.
2021 will probably be the year in which Bitcoin finally dies.
The U.S. regime change agent in Russia, Alexey Navalny, received a significant amount of money through Bitcoin 'donations'. That 'foreign money’ was quoted as one reason to shut his organization down. Regulation of cryptorcurrencies in Russia is strict. Over the last months China has also started to crack down on everything crypto. Some Chinese geeks used cheap subsidized electricity to 'mine' new Bitcoins. That has now been prohibited:
China’s Qinghai province has announced a new ban on virtual currency mining operations, a government document announced Wednesday.
It follows other provinces, including Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia as part of a broader crackdown on the energy-intensive crypto sector in the country.
Chinese crypto miners were doing a large part of the blockchain verification work. That will now become more troublesome.
Kidnapping for ransom had become rare in 'western' societies as the police had learned to catch the culprits when they came to fetch the money. Getting the money is indeed the most difficult part of any ransom operation. With the availability and wider use of Bitcoin, ransom-ware operations, blackmail by hostile encryption of computer drives, became so easy that some criminals offered them as a service.
The recent Colonial pipeline attack put a new light on that:
"Attacks on critical US infrastructure facilitated by cryptocurrencies will not go unnoticed by the US government and other countries. I would argue that the regulatory threat to cryptocurrencies has increased exponentially."
Critics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long argued that they facilitate crime thanks to their anonymous and decentralized nature, which means they are very hard to trace and link to individuals.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in January that she was concerned about cryptocurrencies for this reason. "I think many are used - at least in a transaction sense - mainly for illicit financing," she told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing.
Gary Gensler, the Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission markets regulator, has made similar criticisms in the past.
"Beyond use on the darknet, there are those around the globe who seek to use these new technologies to thwart government oversight of money laundering, tax evasion, terrorism financing, or evading sanctions regimes," he told Congress in 2018.
In the case of Colonial the FBI managed to retrieve a part of the ransom money the company had paid. This shows that there are ways and means to bust the use of bitcoins for criminal purposes. The Internal Revenue Service is also asking Congress for new authorities to go after crypto users.
With regulators and police all over the world cracking down on the usage of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies these have lost a main purpose of their existence. Using them will become stigmatized. Owning some will be seen as suspicious.
It is time for them to wither away.
Our IP Address: