Libra could harm Bitcoin, and not for the reasons you think
Without meaning any disrespect to Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook in general, it’s would be a reasonable assessment to say that the Libra project hasn’t entirely gone the way that the social media company hoped it would.
When it was first announced, the world was told that it was the cryptocurrency that would take the concept of crypto into the mainstream. A few short months later, and it’s in tatters. Several major backers have pulled out of the project, and Zuckerberg finds himself making frequent trips to Congress to answer the concerns that regulators have about the whole idea.
might expect that Libra’s struggles would be good for the price of Bitcoin.
After all, if Libra were to be successful, it would inevitably eat into
Bitcoin’s share of the crypto market. It may be the original and best-known of
all the cryptocurrencies that currently exist, but it has nothing like the
global brand recognition that Facebook does. If Facebook successfully launched
a cryptocurrency, it would be a huge deal. The price would start high, and rise
higher more and more people jumped aboard. That would leave Bitcoin languishing
behind it. Libra may indeed drag the price of Bitcoin down, but via a route
that nobody saw coming.
start off with a gloomy assessment: Libra is probably doomed. Some of you will rejoice
at that news, and some of you will be disappointed, but it seems likely that
regulators in the United States will block it at every turn, and ensure that it
never sees the light of day. They simply see it as too large a threat to the
established financial order, too open to abuse, and too much of a risk to be
allowed to go ahead and become a major alternative to regular currencies. Some
of their concerns are valid, and some of them smack of protectionism, but
they’re in a position to block it, and blocking it is what they seem intent on
problem with all the scrutiny being directed toward Libra is that it’s been
providing a cryptocurrency education to regulators who have, until now, chosen
to stay in the dark about what crypto is and how it works. They’ve known it’s
there, but they’ve never wanted to know it’s there. It’s a language that they
don’t understand, and it’s never quite become big enough for them to give it
their full attention. They’re starting to pay attention to it now, and that’s
making markets nervous. This week, Bitcoin hit its lowest price point since June, and it’s the
current Libra situation in Congress that’s being blamed for the sharp drop.
Volatility is, of course, to be expected in the price of Bitcoin. We all know that investing in any kind of crypto is risky, volatile, and unregulated. At uncertain times, investing in it feels more like playing mobile slots on a website such as Late Casino than buying a financial product. Mobile slots make an excellent analog for investing in Bitcoin; mining-themed slots like ‘Bonanza’ even correlate to the process by which Bitcoin is generated – but investors are expecting something a little better than the odds they’d get playing mobile slots when they’re putting big money into the market. If buyers lose confidence, the price drops. Right now, buyers are losing confidence.
big fear is that the information that’s being disclosed to Congress is opening
the eyes of people on Capitol Hill to the full potential of cryptocurrency, and
what cryptocurrency could mean for existing financial institutions if the idea
were to truly catch on and become a widely-used alternative for conventional
money. Banks would run into difficulty. Stock markets would go into turmoil.
The world as they know it would be turned upside down. They don’t want to see
that, and so they’ll dig their heels in and do anything they can to prevent it.
That means they’re unlikely to stop at merely cutting Libra’s claws.
The more Capitol Hill knows about crypto, the more likely it is to start writing bills and creating legislation. That means greater scrutiny greater, greater restrictions, and ultimately formal regulation. While regulation should never be feared per se – it’s important to have rules in all walks of life – it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that such regulations would favour ‘normal’ banks and currencies at the expense of allowing cryptocurrency to grow.
line that will be used in the press to beat cryptocurrency around the head is
that the anonymity of it allows for nefarious deeds to be done without fear of
reprisal. Very soon, we expect to see significant political figures say that
crypto will be the means by which criminals launder large sums of money. They’ll
also link crypto to international terrorism, and say that terrorist enterprises
use crypto in order to hide the origins of their money. We know this because
Rep. Brad Sherman said it to Mark Zuckerberg during the most recent hearing.
Going even further than that, he said that cryptocurrency could only go one of
two ways – failing and bankrupting investors, or succeeding and displacing the
dollar. He said that neither outcome is acceptable to him, and several of his
colleagues agreed with his assessment.
is where the old adage ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ rings very
true. We know that those are not the only two possible outcomes for
cryptocurrency, as do the majority of people who trade or work with
cryptocurrency on a daily basis. Lawmakers, however, do not, and nor are they
likely to spend the necessary time it would take for them to build up an
accurate picture of the issues they’re discussing making laws on. The brighter
the spotlight shines on LIbra and crypto in general, the lower prices are
likely to become. Pretty soon, all of us may find out just how well we’re able
to hold our nerve if prices drop even lower. Libra will never rival Bitcoin in
terms of success, but it could yet make it an equal in terms of failure.