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Revision as of 00:16, 24 March 2011 by Luke-jr (talk | contribs) (21 million coins isn't enough, doesn't scale)
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Lets clear up common Bitcoin misconceptions.


Bitcoins don't solve any problems that fiat and/or gold doesn't solve

  • easy to transfer and store
  • potentially anonymous
  • inflation proof
  • not controlled by a central authority

The bitcoin is backed by CPU cycles

Bitcoin is not backed by anything. It is a commodity in its own right. Is gold backed by anything? No! It's just gold. Same thing with bitcoin.

The Bitcoin currency is protected when adequate computing power exists.

Bitcoins value is based on how much electricity it takes to mine them

Thats the labor theory of value. (insert counterexample scenario here)

Bitcoins have no intrinsic value (unlike some other things)

While some tangible commodities do have intrinsic value, that value is generally much less than its trading price. Value is primarily determined by what people are willing to trade for – by supply and demand.

Bitcoins are illegal because it's not legal tender

Chickens aren't legal tender.

Bitcoin is a form of domestic terrorism because it only harms the economic stability of the USA and its currency according to this, you need to do violent activities to be considered a terrorist for legal purposes. This has no bearing on politicians and idiotic US attorney's public remarks.

Bitcoin will only enable tax evaders which will lead to the eventual downfall of civilization

It's up to you to follow the applicable state laws in your home country, or face the consequences.

Bitcoins can be printed/minted by anyone and are therefore worthless

It requires substantial computing power to generate new coins, and eventually all the coins will be generated.

Bitcoins are worthless because it's based on unproven cryptography

Same cryptography as everything else.

Early adopters are unfairly rewarded

Early adopters are rewarded for taking the high risk of wasting their time and money. Besides, "fairness" is an arbitrary concept that is improbable to be agreed upon by a large population. Establishing fairness is no goal of Bitcoin, as this would be impossible.

21 million coins isn't enough, doesn't scale

There are really 2,099,999,997,690,000 (just over 2 quadrillion) units of bitcoin. The BTC value just represents 100,000,000 of these. As BTC grows to have too large a manageable value, other measures can be used, such as milli-bitcoins (mBTC) or even micro-bitcoins (μBTC).

Bitcoins are stored in wallet files, just copy the wallet file to get more coins!

Bitcoin transactions are stored in the block chain. The wallet has your secret keys necessary to spend your money, that is, to enter new transactions into the block chain. Copying the wallet doesn't copy any coins.

Lost coins can't be replaced and this is bad

Bitcoins are divisible to 0.00000001 at this moment, so this is not a problem. If you lose your coins, all other coins will go up in value a little. Consider it a donation to all other Bitcoin Users.

It's a giant ponzi scheme

In a Ponzi Scheme, the founders guarantee investors that they’ll profit. Bitcoin does not make such a guarantee. There is no central entity, just individuals building an economy.

Not to be confused with the Bitcoin Randomizer which really is a Ponzi scheme.

Deflationary spiral

As deflationary forces may apply, economic factors such as hoarding are offset by human factors that may lessen the chances that a Deflationary spiral will occur.

Bitcoin community are anarchist/conspiracy theorist/gold standard weenies


Anyone with enough computing power can take over the network


Bitcoin violates some sort of government regulations



Fractional reserve banking is not possible

True - kinda. If you accept deposits in Bitcoins, you can lend out some fraction of these Bitcoins, but since you can't actually create more, it's impossible to lend out more bitcoins than you have received in deposits.

For a more traditional fractional lending scheme, where you are actually creating money, you could:

1. Start BitBank and create your own currency, BitBucks.

2. Accept deposits of Bitcoins from customers. Tell customers that they may exchange a BitBuck for a BitCoin at any time.

3. Make loans of BitBucks. Loan more BitBucks than you have Bitcoins.

4. ????


Point of sale with bitcoins isn't possible because of the 10 minute wait for confirmation

More computing power incentivised by equitable transaction fees will make waiting time negligible. In layman's terms, speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out.

Zero confirmations should be good enough for point of sale purchases, which occur almost instantly.

After 21 million coins are mined, no one will run network nodes

When operating costs can't be covered by mining production, which will happen some time before the total amount of BTC is reached, miners are expected to earn profit from transaction fees.

Actually, all 21 million coins will never be fully mined. Before the 21 million mark is reached, an infinite amount of fractions from the final BTC will be generated for nodes.

Actually, a finite amount of fractions will occur before zero BTC is mined per block.

Bitcoin has no built-in chargeback mechanism, and this is bad

Why some people think this is bad: Chargebacks are useful for limiting fraud. The person handling your money has a responsibility to prevent fraud. If you buy something on Ebay and the seller never ships it, PayPal takes a hit and gives you back the money. This strengthens the Ebay economy, because people recognize that their risk is limited and are more willing to purchase items from risky sellers.

Why it's actually a good thing: Bitcoin is designed such that your money is yours and yours alone. Allowing chargebacks implies that it is possible for another entity to take your money from you. You can have either total ownership rights of your money, or fraud protection, but not both.

The statement "The person handling your money has a responsibility to prevent fraud" is still true; the power has been shifted into your own hands. Fraud will always exist. It's up to you to only send bitcoins to trusted entities. It is possible to trust an online identity without ever knowing their physical identity; see the OTC Web of Trust.

Bitcoin is just like all the other virtual currencies, nothing new

All other virtual currencies can be printed at the subjective whims of their creators. Bitcoin is limited.

Quantum computers would break bitcoin's security

Yes but Bitcoin's security can be upgraded.

See the implications of quantum computers on public key cryptography here