General Information & Client Service
  • Americas: +1.212.553.1653
  • Asia: +852.3551.3077
  • China: +86.10.6319.6580
  • EMEA: +44.20.7772.5454
  • Japan: +81.3.5408.4100
Media Relations
  • New York: +1.212.553.0376
  • London: +44.20.7772.5456
  • Hong Kong: +852.3758.1350
  • Tokyo: +813.5408.4110
  • Sydney: +61.2.9270.8141
  • Mexico City: +001.888.779.5833
  • Buenos Aires: +0800.666.3506
  • São Paulo: +0800.891.2518
January 21, 2019

BIS published a paper that discusses the economics of how Bitcoin achieves data immutability, and thus payment finality, via costly computations—that is, "proof-of-work." Additionally, it explores what the future might hold for cryptocurrencies modeled on this type of consensus algorithm. The analysis shows that liquidity of Bitcoin will fall substantially in the years to come in the absence of relevant technological advances.

This paper introduces the concept of “economic payment finality” in the blockchain. A payment can be considered final only once it is unprofitable for any potential adversary to undo it with a double-spending attack. The conclusions are, first, that Bitcoin counterfeiting via "double-spending" attacks is inherently profitable, making payment finality based on proof-of-work extremely expensive. Second, the transaction market cannot generate an adequate level of "mining" income via fees as users free-ride on the fees of other transactions in a block and in the subsequent blockchain. Instead, newly minted bitcoins, known as block rewards, have made up the bulk of mining income to date. Looking ahead, these two limitations imply that liquidity is set to fall dramatically, as these block rewards are phased out. Simple calculations suggest that once block rewards are zero, it could take months before a Bitcoin payment is final, unless new technologies are deployed to speed up payment finality. Second-layer solutions such as the Lightning Network might help, but the only fundamental remedy would be to depart from proof-of-work, which would probably require some form of social coordination or institutionalization.

The paper emphasizes that claiming that technology alone cannot do the trick is not to say that it is useless. It simply means that the focus could shift away from the issue of whether the technology can replace traditional sovereign money and financial institutions. One key question for future research is whether and how technology-supported distributed exchange can complement and improve on the existing monetary and financial infrastructure. For example, in mixed systems, normal market functioning could be guaranteed by decentralized economic consensus, yet should it fail there would be overarching coordination mechanisms that are also tied to the legal system. What would be the gains regarding efficiency, transparency, and resilience from such semi-decentralized exchange compared to current market designs? Answering these and related questions will require a more widely distributed understanding of the new technology and how it might be used in existing markets. However, for those already involved in distributed ledger technology, what is needed is an awareness of how institutions have sustained trust throughout mankind’s history, an issue that lies at heart of central banking and financial regulation. The authors also conclude that, in the long run, the value of cryptocurrencies might be to catalyze the thinking on how society can handle access to data and the right to edit it, a much-needed impulse at a time characterized by loss of privacy and the rise of technology-driven disinformation campaigns. 

 

Related Links

Keywords: International, Banking, Regtech, Fintech, Cryptocurrencies, Distributed Ledger Technology, Blockchain, Bitcoin, BIS

Related Articles
News

APRA Grants License to New Authorized Deposit-Taking Institution

APRA announced that it has granted Judo Bank Pty Ltd a license to operate as an authorized deposit-taking institution without restrictions, under the Banking Act 1959.

April 24, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

BoE Report on Evaluation of Approach to Concurrent Stress Testing

BoE published a report on the evaluation, by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), of the effectiveness of the approach of BoE to concurrent stress testing.

April 24, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

FDIC Consults on Approach to Resolution Planning for IDIs

FDIC approved an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) and is seeking comment on ways to tailor and improve its rule requiring certain insured depository institutions (IDIs) to submit resolution plans.

April 22, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

FDIC Specifies Submission Timeline for FFIEC 031, 041, and 051 Reports

FDIC published the financial institution letters (FIL-21-2019 and FIL-22-2019) that offer guidance on submission of Call Reports FFIEC 051, FFIEC 041, and FFIEC 031 for the first quarter of 2019.

April 19, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

US Agencies Propose to Revise Call Reports FFIEC 031, 041, and 051

US Agencies (FDIC, FED, and OCC) proposed to revise and extend, for three years, the Call Reports FFIEC 031, FFIEC 041, and FFIEC 051.

April 19, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

US Agencies Propose to Amend Rule on Supplementary Leverage Ratio

US Agencies (FDIC, FED, and OCC) are proposing to revise the capital requirements for supplementary leverage ratio, as required by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection (EGRRCP) Act.

April 18, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

EIOPA Held InsurTech Roundtable on Use of Cloud Computing by Insurers

EIOPA had, on April 11, 2019, hosted its Fourth InsurTech Roundtable on the use of cloud computing by insurance undertakings.

April 17, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

EP Resolution on Proposal for Sovereign Bond Backed Securities

The European Parliament (EP) published adopted text on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBS).

April 16, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

HKMA Decides to Maintain Countercyclical Capital Buffer at 2.5%

HKMA announced that, in accordance with the Banking (Capital) Rules, the countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) ratio for Hong Kong remains at 2.5%.

April 16, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
News

EP Approves Agreement on Package of CRD 5, CRR 2, BRRD 2, and SRMR 2

The European Parliament (EP) approved the final agreement on a package of reforms proposed by EC to strengthen the resilience and resolvability of European banks.

April 16, 2019 WebPage Regulatory News
RESULTS 1 - 10 OF 2954