back to article Don't panic, but your Bitcoins may just vanish into the ether next month

The community-driven organization overseeing Bitcoin on Wednesday warned that any Bitcoins received after Monday, July 31, 2017 at GMT-0700 may vanish into thin air or be rejected as invalid. Bitcoin.org said that at the end of the month, Bitcoin confirmation scores – a number that represents the difficulty of altering the …

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I your DOLLAR$

        IF I GET MOAR DUNvotes I MIGHT stop POSTING.

        You're welcome.

        https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=moar

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I your DOLLAR$

          "IF I GET MOAR DUNvotes I MIGHT stop POSTING."

          Good. You've stolen my forum user name. Give it back!

      2. MrDamage

        Re: I your DOLLAR$

        > "IF I GET MOAR DUNvotes I MIGHT stop POSTING"

        Please do. By the looks of your posts, you are nought but a lame and pale imitation of AManFromMars.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I your DOLLAR$

          By the looks of your posts, you are nought but a lame and pale imitation of AManFromMars.

          That would be insulting to AManFromMars. It's so tragic I can't even rate it as a troll. Sad! :)

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    Ah, the joys of virtual currencies

    So, forking BitCoin is possible too ? Wonderful. Forking its value seems to be in the works as well.

    Ah, how wonderful it is to rediscover all the vulnerabilities of currency that we have spent half a millennium to iron out.

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the joys of virtual currencies

      This does make Bitcoin seem a bit shitter than it already seemed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This does make Bitcoin seem a bit shitter than it already seemed.

        But in a sense, ultimately democratic.

        Imagine if the government decided to bring out a new £5 note and no-one liked it. In fiat currency, the users of it can whistle, the government's printing the new note and you'll use it. In crypto-currency world, if no-one wants to use the new £5 note then the old one remains in production and circulation, and the new one disappears, regardless of what the mandarins say.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: This does make Bitcoin seem a bit shitter than it already seemed.

          I suppose, but currencies only work as long as people trust that others will accept them, and I don't think Bitcoin is immune to that law. This is the sort of scenario that could easily result in a stampede for the exit.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: This does make Bitcoin seem a bit shitter than it already seemed.

            they need to do like Microsoft and add "forced upgrades" to the protocol

            (that and some spyware, adware, ...)

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the joys of virtual currencies

      Forking its value seems to be in the works as well.

      You misspelled "fucking".

      1. Sanctimonious Prick
        Happy

        Re: Ah, the joys of virtual currencies

        @DougS: You misspelled "fucking".

        Hehe... beat me to it. Though I suspect... oh, you know... it was intended :)

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the joys of virtual currencies

      Just doing what governments do all the time; devaluing the currency.

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the joys of virtual currencies

      Including a (potential) self-destruct option, or so it seems.

      Well, there is still a fortnight left to convert your Bitcoins into popcorn and then watch what will happen. At the very least I hope for some really outstanding conspiracy theories.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah, the joys of virtual currencies

      If it all goes horribly wrong, I guess you could say "forking hell"...

  3. Len Goddard

    An alternative

    Has anyone considered that a small metal token with a difficult-to-duplicate inscription on each side might be a more viable alternative to this virtual nonsense?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: An alternative

      Good idea. Ive NEVER seen any counterfeit money.

      1. Stumpy

        Re: An alternative

        ... or you could use a triangular rubber coin approximately six thousand miles along each side.

        1. MrDamage

          Re: An alternative

          > "... or you could use a triangular rubber coin approximately six thousand miles along each side."

          But who wants to fuck about with piddling small change?

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

            Re: An alternative

            You could of course also use leaves as currency, although I think the last time that was used the official rate was several deciduous forests to one ship's peanut

        2. Neverwas

          Re: An alternative

          ".. or you could use a triangular rubber coin approximately six thousand miles along each side."

          That always seemed to me better as alternative cheque as it'd be obvious to the meanest intellect that it might bounce.

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          @Stumpy

          I'll leave your 42 upvotes untouched, for obvious reasons.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: An alternative

        "Good idea. Ive NEVER seen any counterfeit money."

        Different issue. Having your money magically vanish from your wallet overnight is somewhat different so someone making some counterfeit money.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: An alternative

          @boltar

          Might want to talk to the Cypriot folks you know..........

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: An alternative

            Money deposited at Bitcoin exchanges has vanished, that's the same as what happened in Cyprus.

  4. W.O.Frobozz

    How about caps?

    Seriously Bitcon is as bad as paper fiat. Let's hust go with bottle caps like Fallout taught us.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: How about caps?

      Already on that. I've accumulated about 586 bottle caps.

      Not because of BitCoin, but because if gaming has taught me anything its that a post nuclear world revolves around bottle caps.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: How about caps?

        No matter what you say about it, for a small investment a few years ago, our family had 2 weeks in Florida using about half the profit.

        You can sit and scowl all you like, I'm thinking of taking the rest out and buying a new car.

        Even if it went to zero now, most bitcoiners have made their whack and none will be out of pocket.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

    Forex trading is over 5 trillion dollars a day. A lot of that is high-speed trades that are essentially skimming the froth off. Bitcoin trade is about 0.008$ of that. In terms of total Bitcoin in existence, it's a little over 1%.

    We have a hard figure for the number of Bitcoin. Ordinary money has a lot of definitions. Using the most generous, Forex trading is about 6% of the total.

    "virtually zero" to Morgan Stanley might be a lot of Bitcoin being used. If you could count the Forex and Bitcoin trade that is for actually buying goods and services, there could be less speculation trading for Bitcoin, as a percentage.

    Markets need speculators to work. I am not sure what the ideal level is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

      Let me guess, you're worried about the value of your Bitcoin wallet?

      :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

      It's virtually zero in an practical sense:

      The maximum possible number of Bitcoins is (iirc) 21 million - of which about half have been mined. If each coin is worth about $1000, then the total proportion of the real economy that it can actually represent is $21 billion - which in real terms is miniscule fraction of a gross world product of $78 trillion. Meanwhile no one is going to tolerate or risk an exchange rate bubble of 1 Bitcoin = $3.7 million to allow bitcoins to encompass this.

      In short, Bitcoin is structurally incapable of operating as a mainstream currency.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        Re: In short, Bitcoin is structurally incapable of operating as a mainstream currency.

        ^The maximum possible number of Bitcoins is (iirc) 21 million - of which about half have been mined^

        Which mirrors real world currencies based on *something*. There's only so much Gold/Silver/Diamonds/Oil/Whatever on planet Earth.

        Yes, you can disconnect a currency from such shibboleths. But then everybody has to have faith in it's worth, which is a bit too close to religion for my liking.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: In short, Bitcoin is structurally incapable of operating as a mainstream currency.

          There's only so much Gold/Silver/Diamonds/Oil/Whatever on planet Earth.

          Yes, you can disconnect a currency from such shibboleths. But then everybody has to have faith in it's worth, which is a bit too close to religion for my liking.

          The thing is, rarity does not make something inherently valuable, and it certainly doesn't make it inherently stable in value. There has to be a market for it. And none of the things you mention are inherently stable in value.

          The price of oil varies over a wide range based on supply and demand.

          Diamonds are controlled by a cartel; if it were ever broken up, the price would crash overnight. There aren't even a lot of uses for natural diamond. It's only valuable because we've been trained to believe it is by TV ads.

          And there's nothing magic about gold. People sometimes act like it's a fixed, inflation-proof store of value, but it isn't really; it's subject to supply and demand like anything else. Basing your currency on gold just means that instead of having technocrats in government set the value, you're allowing the value to be set by guys with shovels.

      2. Brangdon

        Re: no one is going to tolerate or risk an exchange rate bubble

        There's no technical reason why 1 Bitcoin can't be worth $3.7 million. It means people would trade in satoshi instead - satoshi being the actual fundamental unit of Bitcoin. Each Bitcoin is 100,000,000 satoshi. If 1 satoshi is worth 37c, that's fine. If necessary, with protocol changes, it can be subdivided further.

        It's not a structural problem. Your calling it a "bubble" makes it clear it's a psychological one. You just don't think Bitcoin can be worth that much. You probably also didn't think it could be worth $1,000, or $1.

        A much deeper problem is scalability. That's part of what SegWit attempts to address with its effective blocksize increase, but to manage anything like the transaction rate of a fiat currency much more is needed.

      3. EBG

        yes ..... but....

        Something people overlook when talking about the hard limit on the number of bitcoins. It locks the equivalent of the M0 money supply. However, the money supply for covenional currencies is detirmined by M1 upwards, i.e. by credit. It can't be impossible to create a bitcoin credit system which will by-pass the M0 supply limit.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: yes ..... but....

          It can't be impossible to create a bitcoin credit system which will by-pass the M0 supply limit.

          Certainly not impossible, but the current level of volatility makes any kind of credit denominated in bitcoin a pretty risky bet.

      4. Donn Bly

        Re: "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

        Bitcoin may or may not be a viable currency (I'm not vested in it in any way or fashion myself), but I find your argument that Bitcoin is "structurally incapable" as operating as a mainstream currency based upon its scarcity to have a very serious flaw.

        If we took the same argument and applied it to a precious metal such as gold, when there isn't enough of it to go around to pay any more than a minuscule fraction of the gross world product, it would mean that gold is also worthless as a currency.

        Instead, I think you will find that a great many people value gold for its monetary value and not its physical properties.

        Something is only worth something if someone else wants it. That demand imparts value. That goes for your house, your art, your car, your gold, or even your Bitcoin. If it is portable and uniform then it can easily be used as currency - just as cigarettes are used among inmates in prisons.

        Bitcoin is portable, uniform in nature, and demand has imbued it with value. For better or worse it is for all intents and purposes a currency, and as long as there is a demand it will continue to be viable as a currency.

    3. technoise

      Re: "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

      Markets need speculators to work. I am not sure what the ideal level is.

      Really? Why?

      From what I can see, markets seem to need speculators in order to fail catastrophically.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

        technoise,

        Markets are often helped by speculators. Some do need them. This is because you need liquidity in order to make a market. This for example is what killed the banks in the 2008 crash. They had assets that were worth lots of money, those mortgage backed securities, but because nobody had any faith in how they'd been packaged nobody would buy them at any price. The banks had to apply market value to them (which was basically zero), and suddenly the banks were looking insolvent. Now obviously this is an example of how you need proper regulation, but it's also an example of why markets need liquidity to work.

        Take for example the futures market. I am Farmer Giles. My wheat will be harvested in 3 months. Do I want to risk there being a bumper crop from everyone, so I don't get a good enough price and go bust? Or do I want to hang on for the reward of a bad harvest, where my wheat is suddenly worth loads and I can afford extra beer and hookers? Or do farmers have groupies? Tractor tarts perhaps?

        Anyway that's what the futures market is for. I can sell my wheat now - and get a predictable return which means I don't risk going bankrupt in 3 months. Meanwhile a bread company might want to secure guaranteed prices for the next few months, so they can do a deal to sell to a supermarket on a fixed price contract - thus losing the ability to react to changing wheat prices.

        But often the two sides of futures transactions don't balance. So everyone benefits from some speculators coming along. They're risking their (or their clients') money to make a profit. Booo! But actually this is good. Both the baker and the farmer don't care about making huge profits, what they want is steady, predictable ones. So they're willing to give up some potential profit for certainty. But the speculator needs risk in order to grow the investment. So in this case, everyone can be a winner.

        This is why markets work. Sure they sometimes fail, but the point here is that everyone is getting some of what they want.

        This is (or at least was) a fundamental problem with Bitcoin. I looked a couple of years back, and the Bitcoin daily turnover was laughably small. It was so illiquid, that someone selling a bitcoin ($400-odd at the time) could change the global price by a couple of dollars! That's high volatility in an investment asset. But in something claiming to be an alternative currency, it's laughably pathetic.

      2. TheTick

        Re: "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

        "From what I can see, markets seem to need speculators in order to fail catastrophically."

        Nonsense, when Nixon blamed speculators for him having to cease redemption of dollars into gold he was outright lying. It was because the US had been printing more dollars than there was gold to back them, breaking the promise of Bretton Woods and the US was being called on it by France and other nations by redeeming their gold - emptying the coffers of the US.

        People who blame "the speculators" are more often than not trying to shift the blame from their own malfeasance or incompetence.

      3. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: "virtually zero" How are Morgan Stanley counting?

        Umm.

        "Markets need speculatorssuckers ....."

        Works with *either* conclusion to the sentence.

        1. Oh Homer Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: "Markets need speculators"

          More precisely, markets need losers, specifically in order for there to be winners.

          That is the entire foundation of capitalism.

  6. Your alien overlord - fear me
    Trollface

    Does this mean I have to cancel my upcoming ransomware campaign or not?

    1. David Roberts Silver badge
      Coat

      Ransomware?

      Just SPAM everyone telling them you have made their Bitcoin disappear and demand a Western Union transfer to make them reappear.

      Kind of reverse ferret.

    2. Old Handle

      I say go ahead, just insist your victims pay with both forks.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

    Anyone who has the ability to liquidate their holdings would be stupid not to do so in advance of this date, just in case. If nothing happens, no harm done and you can buy them back. If there's a permanent split you can wait on the sidelines until you see which side "wins" or choose your side if they both end up viable (though that would seem to be so confusing I can't imagine such a thing could persist for long)

    I wonder if this is the reason I read about some other virtual currency shooting up in value recently? Can't remember what it was called, but it has gone up like 100x in the past few months or something like that. Maybe those with less-than-legitimate holdings have already started moving them to alternate virtual currencies to wait this out?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

      You're referring to Ethereum. It's a good crypto currency, but it's still recovering from a flash crash when there were rumours that the founder died. It went from £200 to 10p but recovered.

      There's a lot of talk about Litecoin, and how that's the Silver to BitCoin's Gold.

      But it's all speculation about which will do well etc. No one ever dreamed BitCoin would be worth £1,700 per coin as of writing. Anything can happen.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

        Bitcoin isn't worth £1,700 per coin. Sure you might get that when you sell your first one. But what happens when you sell the 10th? Or the 100th?

        That's why it crashes so often, because it only takes a few people selling a few coins at the same time to trash the value.

        It's certainly an interesting experiment though.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

          "Bitcoin isn't worth £1,700 per coin. Sure you might get that when you sell your first one. But what happens when you sell the 10th? Or the 100th?"

          And that happens to currencies every day. None of them are backed by Gold any more.

          1. MonkeyBob

            Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

            And that happens to currencies every day. None of them are backed by Gold any more.

            And why would a currency backed by gold be any more valuable and stable? Gold itself has little intrinsic value as you can't eat it, wear it or make many useful things with it such as car or plane parts. It's value is only linked to it's shinyness and like all currencys it's only value is that which is collectivly assigned to it. In this sense BitCoins value is based on the same collective imagination as all other fiat currencies with the exception that the collective is currently much smaller. The future of BitCoin and other virtual currencies is in the size of the collective that believes in them.

            1. asdf Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

              >Gold itself has little intrinsic value as you can't ... wear it

              I think you mean to say can't really protect yourself from the elements with it (weight a big issue for any use). Not usually pedantic but that one is pretty obvious. Still your point stands.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

            "And that happens to currencies every day. None of them are backed by Gold any more."

            When I was in the Navy, the Phillipine currency (Piso) exchange rate varied based on whether or not there was an aircraft carrier group in port. Presence of an aircraft carrior group meant fewer Pisos to the dollar, by at least 10% [at least when I noticed it, back in the mid 80's].

            Currency speculators could've made a killing by simply paying attention to where the ships were headed. And probably DID.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

              That makes sense - you have a bunch of sailors coming ashore who have a month or two worth of paychecks ready to spend. First thing they will do is exchange some dollars. If I owned a currency exchange within a mile of the port I'd damn sure adjust my exchange rates before they came in.

              I imagine the local 'entertainment' adjusted their rates when the sailors came in, too. Supply and demand!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bitcoin is bound to collapse in value prior to this date

          Take another look. There is far more liquidity and trading activity in the various exchanges than you appear to be aware of.

  8. Dale 3

    Sounds like they've been taking notes from Microsoft on how to roll out an upgrade.

  9. Dan McIntyre

    Does anyone actually use Bitcoin for anything legitimate?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I've had it offered to me for software development and know that some people in some countries prefer it because they worry more about access to their bank accounts being frozen than about the exchange rate risks.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        That leads me to wonder why they're worried their bank account might be frozen?

        Bitcoin's value once collapsed from $1,500 to $100 in two days. That's quite a high risk. Plus it's so volatile that the price can fluctuate by a few dollars each time a coin is sold for cash - which is a similar (or higher) cost than you pay for changing currencies. And $100 in a day shifts happen quite often.

        Obviously if you're getting paid in Bitcoin, then it makes sense to use them for what you want. But that huge volatility is very expensive compared to the stability of almost any currency you care to name.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Venezuelan bolívar?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            See the mess that happened in Cyprus a few years ago, with bank accounts frozen for a couple of weeks & money effectively stolen from them by the government.

            (Ok, the government called it a "tax" on all accounts with the two main banks, which were both on the verge of going bust before the government stepped in. But no-one had ever imposed such a "tax" before or even discussed such a thing. And the government had guaranteed that bank balances below a certain amount (100,000 Euros) would be 95% guaranteed even if the bank went bust, and the "tax" broke that guarantee. The government eventually partly backed down because of that, and only "taxed" people with more than the guaranteed amount. But it's still a scary precedent).

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Obviously if you're getting paid in Bitcoin, then it makes sense to use them for what you want.

          The currency risk explains why Bitcoin is better considered a means of payment than a currency but there are plenty of places where people will prefer the currency risk over currency controls, retrospective taxes, bribes, etc.

    2. nk

      That's like asking does any one use the internet for anything other than porn?

  10. Adam JC

    Misleading Title

    Title makes it sounds like all BitCoins would disappear from everyone's wallets, a little misleading to be fair :-/

    1. qwertyuiop

      Re: Misleading Title

      So a typical El Reg headline then?

  11. Joerg

    All cryptocurriences are a huge fraud made by bankers!

    All cryptocurriences are just a huge fraud created by bankers to steal money and help criminals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All cryptocurriences are a huge fraud made by bankers!

      <Citation please>

  12. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    Wow, this fills me with confidence about the future of Bitcoin! I love holding currencies that might be unreliable for an indeterminate amount of time.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      You may lack the experience of "real money" melting away from your wallet in value month after month, year after year, slowly or rapidly. If so, count yourself lucky. DO NOT take it for granted.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Inflation, as long as it's predictable and not outrageously high, can be planned for. Crashes in value are a much tougher problem to deal with. How do you set the interest rate for a loan in a currency as volatile as Bitcoin? You don't know in a year if it'll be up 20% or down 50%. Similarly, you can't quote prices that are good for any length of time, unless you quote them in a more stable currency and do the exchange rate math each day.

        Whether this matters depends on whether we're talking about a commodity to be used as an investment, or a currency to be spent. People won't spend something that's increasing in value; they'll hoard it instead. This is fine in an investment but not great if you're creating a currency you want to circulate.

  13. PyLETS
    WTF?

    continuing demand for bitcoin

    As managed by the number of marks who get infected by ransomware, a proportion of whom will choose to pay the ransom and so have to buy in. Bitcoin is a managed currency, where 3 factors: mining, anonymisation and demand management are all likely to be in the hands of those controlling the biggest botnets for various technical and cost reasons. So this impending fork probably won't change the game much, though might leave cybercriminals 2 different payment options. Governments blocking the $conventional for Bitcoin exchanges as money laundering accessories would do that, by making it impossible for marks to pay ransoms, making Bitcoins worthless overnight.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: continuing demand for bitcoin

      It's essentially a fiat currency that geeks trust because it's controlled by a cartel of other geeks, when you get down to it.

  14. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Joke

    "... warned that any Bitcoins received after Monday, July 31, 2017 at GMT-0700 may vanish into thin air ..."

    Bit like those very, very shiny gold coins some wizards (or indeed wizzards) would give you in payment

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    It's not unique to Bitcoin

    Why every month a see a reasonable sum of money in my bank appear, but by the next day, most of it has mysteriously vanished..

  16. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    It's one way of dealing with Wannacry I guess ...

  17. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I didn't understand most of the content of that article. What I also don't understand is why bitcoins are worth anything at all. It sounds unreliable, and it fluctuates too much. And the one time I tried to buy bitcoin I found it to be the most fiendishly complicated thing to do. And time consuming.

  18. HKmk23

    Congraulations

    You made me actually check it was not April 1.

    The acronyms are almost unbelievable...

    UASF = U Are Simply Fucked

    SEGWIT = Dimwit

    BIP= Bloody Impossible (to) Prove (anything)

  19. Pam84

    Check out furcoins, there you can buy or sell bitcoins without stress!

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