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An Exclusive Peek Into The World's Biggest Bitcoin Exchange

posted 23 Apr 2013, 03:00 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 23 Apr 2013, 03:01 ]

 

Reuters Business Video Report -  REUTERS REPORTER JON GORDON, 

"The Bitcoin. A virtual, de-centralized currency that's the future of finance. Or a ridiculous bubble, depending on how you view it."

Pioneering libertarian geeks were once able to mine cheap Bitcoins in their spare PC cycles, doing verification calculations to quickly earn huge hoards of the virtual coin.

But a ramping difficulty curve means new-comers now need weeks to earn just one.

So the easiest option is simply to buy.

And buying they are.

The price of a Bitcoin ramped up from 15 bucks at the start of 2013 to peak at $266 dollars earlier this month - that's as a media frenzy stoked demand.

Tokyo-based Mt. Gox is the biggest exchange for Bitcoins, accounting for an estimated 70% of the global trade.

That success has put a bullseye on its back, with a massive denial-of-service attack, and subsequent panic selling sending the virtual currency down as low as 50 U.S. dollars a coin.

But the company says it hasn't seen much of those actual Euros and U.S. dollars money wired out of the exchange system, suggesting those bidders will return to the currency as confidence returns as well.

I met with CEO Mark Karpeles in Tokyo and asked whether the Bitcoin's recent rollercoaster ride will affect the currency's long-term viability.

 MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"I doubt it will have any lasting effect. Well, of course people who invested in between and just saw the price go down really fast, probably feel like they need to sell their bitcoins or don't want to play with this anymore. On the really long term, bitcoin will rise eventually."

REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

"What would you say is the real value of a bitcoin?"

MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

The real value of bitcoin is the price people are ready to buy bitcoins, actually. As we see things here, there's a good chance that Bitcoin will rise again and will slowly adapt to price in between the highest and lowest price we saw.

 REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

What do you think will be, where could we be with Bitcoin in a year?

 MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"Well we don't even know where we'll be with Bitcoin in one month so it's pretty more difficult to say. But it could be anywhere to a thousand dollars for a Bitcoin to twenty, thirty. The way Bitcoin works, the value should increase in time as long as more people are using it. It's still really early in the game, so it's really hard to tell where it's going to go. If people want to stay safe, don't buy bitcoin now and buy later. People who buy now have more chance to make profit, or losses . For an equal risk comes an equal profit."

REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

"And what needs to happen next for bitcoin to really take off?"

MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"Well the main, the most important part for Bitcoin to grow is for merchants to accept Bitcoin. the more merchants, with more major merchants accept Bitcoin, the more interest people will have to buy because there are more merchants.

 REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

"So it's moving people away from speculation into actually using the coins?"

 MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"Speculation depends on Bitcoin being useful for something."

REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

"How much real money is going in and out now?"

MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"Depending on the days, we get between say five and twenty million dollars incoming. In terms of out-going transfers, currently we see three hundred thousand to one million dollars going out a day. So a lot of money flowing in and not much flowing out, I guess. So there's room for Bitcoin price to raise more."

REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

"Will you introduce the ability to short the Bitcoin?"

 MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"Well, we are working on this. The only issue with shorting is on the legal side of things. To have these advance features, we need to get the proper licensing, which usually requires to tell what we are shorting. But with Bitcoin having no legal definition, it really makes things challenging."

 REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

"Do you see taking moves to limit volatility, with for example, a breaker like you might see in other exchanges."

 MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"It really depends. Actually large markets have a breaker system. If things move too fast, we'll halt the market. We're trying to see if it's a good idea or not for bitcoin."

REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON, 

"So do you pay your employees in Bitcoins?"

MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"Actually, we allow employees to get part of the salary in bitcoins if they want. but we don't recommend getting more, spending more on bitcoins than they can afford."

 REUTERS REPORTER, JON GORDON,

"Finally, how risky is an investment in Bitcoin right now?"

 MT. GOX CEO, MARK KARPELES

"Bitcoin would quite qualify as a high risk investment. If you buy bitcoins, you should keep in mind the value could be zero the day after. For now even if it shouldn't happen, there's still a chance it could happen. there's not guarantees, there's nothing behind bitcoin trade to keep the market value high. While more and more people are buying bitcoins, it's still a high risk investment."



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