This Is Not Investment Advice
THE BEST WAY TO FIND serious traders of the digital currency Bitcoin is to log onto Internet Relay Chat—that bare-bones, plain-text experience that hasn’t changed much since its creation in 1988—around midnight, and jump into one of the many conversations dedicated to the phenomenon. Bitcoin, a decentralized payment system that approximates cash, has been quickly gaining popularity since May, when its bit part in a Gawker story about an “underground website where you can buy any drug imaginable” turned into a starring role in stories like Fast Company’s “Funny Money: Is Bitcoin the Future of Currency … Or a Total Scam?”
One indication of how far the currency has evolved: the emergence of Bitcoin derivatives. Despite reluctance by merchants to embrace the new money and a near-constant stream of crises, from cyberattacks to technical failures, the two-and-a-half-year-old technology—carefully designed by a group of anonymous programmers to serve as a standard for digital payments without the need for a central authority—seems to have staying power. This is especially true among its investors, who have graduated from simple transactions like buying and selling to negotiating options and futures contracts.
It seems like more and more investors are jumping in on the sport of Bitcoin speculation; with so much potential volatility, there’s plenty of money to be made buying and selling BTC. Even professional foreign currency traders think so! We’ve been impressed by the sophistication of the Bitcoin economy so far, but at the same time there’s a clear contingent of Bitcoin-naysayers who think the idea that a chunk of code goes for $13 or so means we’re looking at a big fat Bitcoin bubble and would love to short the market. So it seems like only a matter of time before the 8-bit traders start innovating more complex digital financial instruments.
Ruxum, a Bitcoin exchange launched last week by a former Citigroup vice president, is considering brokering short sales and other derivative transactions. But not just yet, founder Chad Pankewitz told Betabeat in an email.
Ladies and gentleman, we have a third new Bitcoin exchange. “Bitcoin exchanges popping up like daisies!” says the Bitcoin Money blog. About a month after Mt. Gox was hacked and Tradehill.com hit the web, a former Citigroup vice president now based in Canada and China is launching Ruxum Exchange in invite-only beta. The site emphasizes usability and its “Wall Street-level security,” according to TechCrunch, and accepts USD, EUR, GBP and JPY with more currencies to come. The site’s security is rigorously audited by a third party, according to Ruxum, and it has back-up databases in two separate physical locations and has developed procedures to deal with breaches. Otherwise its security measures are pretty standard: encrypted passwords and data connection, requiring strong passwords, and so on. “These are people who don’t fuck around,” observed one Reddit user.