Earlier today, I expressed enthusiasm for Marc Andreessen’s long New York Times piece explaining why he thinks the Bitcoin virtual currency could turn out to be a technological development of historic proportions. I hope it makes sense to you that I also recommend reading this rebuttal to Andreessen’s post, published on Medium by my friend Glenn Fleishman, the editor of The Magazine.
Bitcoin doesn’t eliminate a fraudulent transaction; it only eliminates counterfeit payment. This can, of course, save many tens or hundreds of billions of dollars a year globally and translate to more efficiency in commerce. But removing the intermediary also removes recourse outside of courts, and the cost and nature of that can’t be determined.
Because Bitcoin is like untraceable cash, the process for solving a dispute would likely follow the same rules as for cash. When a transaction occurs over the Internet, the odds of recovering one’s Bitcoins when a seller fails to meet his or her obligations is the same as if you’d sent a wad of bills in an envelope through the mail.
Glenn takes issue with Andreessen’s take on a number of other fronts, while agreeing that Bitcoin is a big deal. I cheerfully admit to not being an expert on the subject; my opinion is still evolving, and I came away from both items feeling smarter.