Cypto-currency Bitcoin remains an intriguing option for online poker players.
We investigated the subject earlier this year in a Bitcoin feature we did on SealsWithClubs founder Brian Micon.
We’re going one step farther today with a special Q&A by Nadia Hanna with Bitcoin experts John Light and Adam Sah.
John Light is an entrepreneur with a professional background in business operations and online marketing. He discovered Bitcoin when researching alternative currencies and eventually decided to move to Silicon Valley to start a Bitcoin consulting business where individuals and companies can learn about the digital currency.
Adam Sah opened an artisan food store, Buyers Best Friend, in 2012 and experienced the pain of handling cash, processing credit cards, costs and fees. They company designed their own Point of Sale (POS) system for processing bitcoins.
1. PokerListings: Why do you think the Government want to regulate Bitcoin? And who do you think is behind the drive to over-regulate it?
Adam Sah: It's not true that the government wants to regulate "everything"-- but in practice, the minute there are disputes or risks to large numbers of people, they have to step in.
In fact, I don't see much evidence that anybody is materially trying to "overregulate" Bitcoin, and I've been pleasantly surprised at the sophisticated approach of the Obama administration, where they're saying that regulation will come, without committing to the details.
Meanwhile, they took the obvious steps are restricting anonymity, which removes the egregious uses of Bitcoin for illegal purposes such as money laundering.
John Light: Less than a year ago, people didn't think bitcoins were money anymore than arcade tokens or Linden Dollars, but now a serious discussion is being had. It's incredibly positive in terms of measuring Bitcoin's impact on the way people think about money and currency.
2. PL: What do you think is the future of BitCoin and can it bring increased financial freedom?
John Light: I think either Bitcoin or something like it - another cryptocurrency - will become very common, if not dominant, in the currency market.
People are realizing the benefits of this technology more every day, whether it's the ability to transact with almost the same level of privacy as cash over the internet, or the ability to prevent wealth from being taken by privileged and powerful people, as is occurring all over the world.
Wealth confiscation en masse is very difficult, if not impossible, with Bitcoin. So yes, I think Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can bring increased financial freedom when implemented and used properly.
Adam Sah: More merchants need to accept it, which means easier processing and integrations with commercial POS and accounting systems. Bitcoin needs to find its way into mainstream use-- everyday people have little reason to carry it.
BtC brings freedom to the extent that any new currency or capability brings freedom-- you're travelling internationally and currency exchange is a pain, now you can use Bitcoin.
3. PL: Will an international currency like BitCoin reduce the power of other significant currencies like the USD /GBP/EURO?
Adam Sah: By definition, yes. But the major reserve currencies already face "competition" from other reserve currencies and I doubt BitCoin will materially affect that.
John Light: Bitcoin has the potential to do so, especially if the organizations who control these currencies continue to devalue them with endless inflation, which benefits first recipients of new money in the short-term and punishes savers in the long-term.
4. What advice would you give to Bitcoin users in this regard?
John Light: Learn how to use encrypted offline cold storage solutions to keep your coins safe from theft, and try to always buy twice as many bitcoins as you plan to save or spend so that you can save half and spend the other half.
This keeps the economy liquid while also allowing you to build up your savings.
Bitcoin has gone from being completely worthless 4 years ago to over $100 per coin today; we're still right at the beginning of a steep adoption curve of Bitcoin or Bitcoin-like technology, which will only continue to push the value higher (the law of supply and demand dictates this).
That said, long-term, Bitcoin is still a speculative investment, but if you believe in the potential for good that this technology has then it's a bet worth making if you have some spare change to invest.
Adam Sah: I don't have advice per se-- we keep a limited amount of BtC on hand and don't speculate on its value, instead focusing on our core business, which is bringing artisan food to the masses.
5. PL: Bitcoin is becoming an important option in the online poker world for players concerned about Gov. oversight/seizures/regulation - have you ever tried playing online poker, do you see it as a viable solution?
John Light: I have never played online poker myself, but know several people who make a living playing poker online. They've had to move out of the U.S. in order to continue making their living due to the laws here.
Bitcoin would be a great solution for the online/ mobile gaming industry for several reasons:
1) Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. Site operators do not have to worry about chargeback fraud.
2) Bitcoin offers instant gratification. When a customer wants to withdraw their funds, it takes a matter of minutes to receive the bitcoins, not hours or days as with bank transfers.
3) Bitcoin has built-in privacy for customers. People can gamble without having to expose their personal or financial information as is the case when using other payment methods.
4) Bitcoin has extremely low transfer fees. The standard network fee is .0005 bitcoins, which is a little over 5 cents USD right now. This fee is only paid by the sender of coins, not the receiver.