Late last year, I picked up my life an moved it about 10k miles. Seemed simple enough at the time; I just needed a long term visa (yay for lawyers), a lease in a language I didn’t know, approval from work to become “full time remote”, to sell everything I own, fit everything I’m keeping in 2 boxes and 2 bags, put any family artifacts in storage. Yeah, that was most of the easiest stuff.
Once I got here, I also realized there were all sorts of challenges I had never even considered. For example, most countries assume you’re a citizen when dealing with all their bureaucracy and process. More to the point, they also assume you grew up here with generations before you teaching you how to jump the hurdles through osmosis. At minimum almost all countries (except the US) assume you speak the national language. If you don’t match any of these criteria, you’re sort of like that half sized spare tire that’s never inflated or repaired; you’re put in place and abused at full speed regardless of what the rating on the sidewall says. If you don’t match any of the criteria, well good luck.
Then one day, literally from all sides my friends started buzzing about bitcoins. I’d chatted with people on an off about them, but had never really taken the idea too seriously. First off, by the time I’d really heard much of substance about them I’d also go to a mostly mobile lifestyle; there was no way my Macbook Pro was going to be a serviceable mining rig. So I just assumed it was yet another trend to pass me by.
The buzz never really died down. More friends are looking at more business angles every day. And now my eyes are opening to the fact that this isn’t likely a simple digital corollary to beanie babies. It’s not hot simply because of coy marketing and social media fervor. It looks like ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ might have started a truly viable baseline for the next era of currency.
Why all the seemingly unrelated babble? Well, because I’m somewhat of an odd duck. I’ve built myself a maze to deal with if I want to partake of the new bitcoin frenzy. Bitcoins are money; money is tricky when the framework is well established and protected and tested over time. The challenge is that Bitcoins came about with such a fury that there hasn’t been anything even close to the standard set of guidelines, frameworks, best practices or government regulations to rest the currency on top of. This means that nobody knows how to deal with it in a sustainable way.
Wrapping the NYSE into a blanket of safety is no small business, but it’s backed by many governments with a vested interest in it’s survival. The TSE is the same, even if someone were to compromise the core infrastructure and bleed it dry there are repercussions, insurance policies, and government safety nets. If someone compromises the wallet system at Bitstamp then you’re pretty much screwed. If someone successfully pounds BTGuild with a DDoS for long enough then the pool will starve out. I saw recently that Ozcoin had problems with one of their payout systems. Guess what happens when their payout system breaks? I’ll give a hint, you won’t see a list like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Economic_Stabilization_Act_of_2008.
Ok, so the point. I live in one place, and my “identity” is established in a totally different place. The new order of banking doesn’t have the shoulders of giants to stand on for starters. For example, you can’t require an SSN sort of identifier unless you’ve got the means to to actually do deep verification for all every single national variant. Now couple that with the fact that one value add for bitcoin is the potential for anonymity. Ok great; so you basically have a digital system that’s backed by a human backend doing subjective identity verification. Let the hurdles begin.
I wanna open an account with a market agency so I can buy and sell some BTC. My options are variable. I looked at bitfloor briefly. They had all sorts of appeal for my US friends, since you could do things like deposit money via an ATM. Great…I’m outside the US so there’s no BofA atm anywhere to be seen. Before I got further into it, bit floor found itself bleeding out and I was on to find other options. Fine, I’ll look at a bigger market. One that’s “established”, seriously they’ve got at least a couple years experience, why not trust them with my established and viable currency. Great, so now how do we interact? Ok…I give them identifying information, some of what is in English, some of it not. I have to hope they know the format of my local power bill well enough to subjectively decide it’s legit.
Where do I stand? Well, in the time it takes the market agency to verify I am who I am the mining difficulty will have increased 2x or so. The market volatility may have stabilized (squelching the value of things like day trading). All of the pools will be blazing out with the new butterfly ASIC systems, and I’ll have very little reason to try to get into the game so late. Then again, who cares? It’s not like anyone knows what the future holds for Bitcoin. It’s not like all of the markets are exhausted.