This is in response to an article published by ZDNet Feb 6th titled 'Why Singapore doesn't need Bitcoin'
Dear Eileen Yu,
Your main point in the article seems to be that the main appeal with Bitcoin is anonymity. That's far from the reality if you ask the community. Let's be clear, Bitcoin is not anonymous - much less so than for example cash. All transactions that have ever taken place on the Bitcoin network are stored and open for anyone to view. Secondly, as Silk Road showed, and as I'm sure you know it is not a very easy task to hide your footprints online. Law enforcement managed to closed down these market places and arrest the people behind it. The world of Bitcoin has moved far beyond the days when it was mainly used by shady characters, if there was ever such a day.
Very much like the early days of the Internet, people will question the purpose and its users. In fact one of the pioneers in the early days of the internet, Marc Andreessen (among other things, the founder of the first web browser) has 'been waiting 20 years to find something as big as the Internet', he is referring to Bitcoin.
More and more people realizes that underlying Bitcoin is a groundbreaking technology; the first trust less, peer to peer network where you can transfer digital property over the Internet. The legacy banking infrastructure is costly, slow and keep billions of the un-banked and under-banked people on outside. We cant expect a paradigm type of change to come from within the system itself, it rarely does. The immediate benefits of Bitcoin are starting to become clearer; billions of people that are not in the traditional banking system, not the least right here in Asia and around Singapore, can with just a smartphone and a Bitcoin app get paid and pay anyone, anywhere in the world. In other words, they can join an economy. A kid in Indonesia can display a Bitcoin address on web site he or she developed and get paid - that kind of freedom has never before been possible. Here in Singapore we have one of the largest densities of immigrant workers in the world. Many of them are sending their hard earned money back home. Today they are in many cases paying outragous fees. With Bitcoin that fee can be close to zero. E-commerce sites many times have to pay credit card fees that are 5% of their profit margins. There are possibilities for micro payments for online content and so on. Not only does it put power and freedom back in the hands of anyone who chooses to participate, it protects consumers against the rampant credit card fraud (and its associated fees) and the merchant from having to deal with problems like chargebacks.
But Bitcoin is not only cash for the Internet, it is also a platform where all kind of services can be built into it and on top of it. This is where visionaries like Marc Andreessen sees the big potential for the coming decades.
Singapore and its people have enjoyed an enormous economic development by encouraging businesses, not at least in the financial services sector to establish them self here. In light of this we can be happy that the Singaporean government once again have taken such an open and pragmatic approach to something new. As the regulatory environment around the world is uncertain Singapore has the potential to stand out by showing the world we are pro-business. We have already seen entrepreneurs such as itBit and GoCoin establish them self here. Lets hope for the benefit of all of us that more Bitcoin entrepreneurs will follow in their footsteps.
We are not saying that Bitcoin is entirely without problems and that it can't be used for 'bad' things (and those things needs to be addressed), we are just saying the positives far outweights the negatives.
We hope you keep an open mind. A good place to form your own mind is by reading the original paper bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
Thank you for a good debate!
PS. Your colleague does not need to worry about volatility risk his restaurant faces, companies such as BitPay and Coinbase sure are happy to help. We look forward dining using Bitcoin next time we visit his restaurant!