What is Bitcoin Other than a $15,000 Beanie Baby?

Bitcoin is scarce. Right? That was the driving force behind another collectible that I recall.

TNABC Refuses Bitcoin

Let's compare the scarcity of Bitcoins to the scarcity of Beanie Babies.

First, please note that it costs so much and takes so long to process bitcoin transactions, that the The North American Bitcoin Conference Stops Accepting Bitcoin for payment.

Bitcoin settlement times and the fee market associated with transactions have become a hot topic these days as on-chain fees have risen to $30-60 per transaction. These issues have made it extremely difficult for businesses to operate, and many merchants have stopped accepting bitcoin for services and goods altogether. Just recently the tech giant Microsoft announced temporarily removing the “redeem bitcoin” button from the account services payment option. Now this week, due to the same related issues with the Bitcoin network, TNABC organizers have ceased accepting bitcoin payments for tickets.

“Due to network congestion and manual processing, we have closed ticket payments using Cryptocurrencies — Hopefully, next year there will be more unity in the community about scaling and global adoption becomes reality,” explains the TNABC ticketing page.

Artificial Scarcity

One of the often heard reasons for owning bitcoin is that it is a scarce resource.

Bitcoin is scarce in precisely the same way Beanie Babies were scarce.

In the late 1990s, Ty Warner, creator of the wildly popular Beanie Babies series of plush toys, had a 370,000-square-foot warehouse filled with his beloved collectible animals for kids. All told, the merchandise there represented “more than $100 million worth of product.”

Part of the reason for the incredible success of the Beanie Babies — which had sales of $1.4 billion in 1998, making Warner a billionaire in the process — is that Warner would retire specific animals at whim, creating scarcity in the market and inspiring collectors to pay up to $5,000 for a plush toy that originally retailed for $5.

People neglected other areas of their lives to spend all day trading, and some even invested their children’s college funds in toys that they believed would bring an astronomical return on investment.

It worked for a few. The rest were left with beans.

CryptoKitties Anyone?

This was my ending comment: "At best, some greater-fool believer spent $113,000 for a virtual beanie baby. Fraud or not, it's absurd."

Today I ask, what is Bitcoin itself other than a $15,000 Beanie Baby?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Formula 57. You are correct. Nothing is guaranteed. However to simply dismiss the possible impact of this tech is short sighted. Just like Kodak was foolish to ignore the impact of digital photography on film photography, or Swiss watch makers ignoring digital watch technology.


@ Realist - for the reasons you state, blockchain ought not to be dismissed and I do not think it is being so here. Bitcoin and more particularly the present exuberance with which it is greeted in some quarters is a much more doubtful proposition. One cause of concern I have with Bitcoin and its like is the close association with those who wish to free themselves from government and/or central bank involvement for I think that has skewed development and usage in ways that make successful establishment less likely rather than more.

Formula57. I agree. I do believe this technology will indeed be disruptive to many industries Those who taken advantage of it, will be big winners. Those who ignore it could be big losers. My main point is that you should not ignore this technology and its potential to disrupt. In my humble opinion, equating Bitcoin with Beanies implies that people should ignore Crypto in general. Many forward thinking companies are devoting significant resources in this area because of the potential to disrupt their industries. They are not ignoring or belittling Crypto.

The blockchain, as it exists with bitcoin, is a dead technology. From an engineering standpoint, it simply cannot scale to meet the needs of the bitcoin market. Even conceptually, it cannot scale. So, whoever comes up with a real design (if it is possible), will be the real winner. So bitcoin right now is truly just a beanie baby.

Realist this is silliness:" I am somewhat surprised that Mish, who is a big believer in the disruptive technology of self-driving transport (as am I) would so easily dismiss the disruptive possibilities of Crypto/Blockchain"

I have never doubted the disruptive nature of blockchain. In fact, I have repeatedly stated it has many uses. Recording mortgages,m deeds, etc, is a perfectly viable use. I think it will displace the entire Title insurance industry in due time. But what does that have to do with Bitcoin other than Bitcoin uses the technology? The answer is Nothing! Bitcoin is not a claim on technology or patents. It is nothing but a beanie baby.

I think it’s better to say that blockchain uses the Bitcoin. There are different Blockchains that use different crypto methods, and the encrypting element is the “coin”. (Correct me if I’m wrong). The technology is covered at blockgeeks.com; I guess I should re-read it.

Hey Mish. Sorry it took so long to reply. Very busy day. Also, apologies if I misunderstood your intent regarding Blockchain. Just want to point out, once again, that I know many people who work for large reputable companies, who indeed take Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin very seriously. They consider Bitcoin, Ethereum, et al, and the Blockchain technology as both a disruptive threat and opportunity for their businesses. I see no reason to completely dismiss Bitcoin or any other Crypto at this time. The future is hard to predict.

just another tulip