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If the G20 nations (or most of them) ban bitcoins doesn't this effectively kill bitcoin? My thinking is that a normal person would no longer have any means of converting bitcoins to the local currency. The only other way this would work, were if most places took bitcoin (coffee shops, grocery stores), but if it's banned then most of the places would stop taking it.

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    Your two questions should be asked in two separate posts. But I believe similar questions have been asked before, so please do a search as well. – Nate Eldredge May 9 '14 at 1:01
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    Since the two questions were not related, I edited your question to remove the second question. Please ask it as a separate question instead, so we can focus on one topic in each question. You can find the original text in the edit history. - I also think that Nate is right and both of your questions already have answers here, but unfortunately I don't have time to look for them right now. – Murch May 9 '14 at 8:49
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My thinking is that (i) G20 nations are democracies, and (ii) Bitcoin is a useful service. If it's useful to people, and people want it, they'll vote for it and it won't get banned.

If your country bans something useful to the masses, it's not a democracy. It will be banned only because it lost its utility, and if that happens, there will probably be something better replacing it.

  • There are a lot of things banned that are useful to masses, in democracies too. – Jori May 10 '14 at 9:37
  • Such as? Most are very biased things. As in, you may think they're useful, but others don't. But anyway, that's my opinion. – Luca Matteis May 10 '14 at 9:53
  • You are probably right they are biased, but that doesn't mean they aren't useful to the public, propaganda can do amazing things. Without going in detail (not the right place here, you can mail me or use chat function of BSE), think of themes like: illicit drugs, nuclear weapons, strong crypthographic communication, privacy, etc. – Jori May 10 '14 at 10:01
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1- Pretty much

2- Yes, all trasactions are public. You can use websites like blockchain.info to see all the transactions happening. And yes the US government is starting to do do things like this: https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=15d43de53e969bd779d48252d69c1307&tab=core&_cview=0

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No need to apologize for your question! We're all here to learn. For every question asked, there are many lurkers wondering similar things.

Some food for thought on point 1:

Illegal drugs are already banned in most places; did these commodities become more or less valuable after such bans? There is a good discussion between Stefan Molyneux and a caller to FreeDomainRadio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6UVQUjS1T8 (warning - video has a not-safe-for-work title but the content is audio-only and is not offensive)

Since bitcoin itself is a currency, as infrastructure and networks and cryptoeconomies evolve, shouldn't the need for conversion into fiat diminish anyway?

The question really hinges on timelines. In the short term, large bans would have an effect but they would also create competitive opportunities for other countries. Lots of venture capital is flowing into cryptocurrency right now. Governments all want a taste of that, so they are necessarily hesitant to use the ban hammer.

[2] Bitcoin works because of Satoshi's foundational discovery/contribution/invention in computer science that allows for a distributed, decentralized, public ledger. All transactions are publicly visible but to tie a transaction to a person, you must also tie an address to a person. The entry for a transaction in the blockchain will show bitcoin addresses but not your name or other identifying information. If someone looks at your computer and sees that you control a certain address, they can then do some blockchain forensics to see with whom you have been transacting. Interestingly, it is trivial to create a new address for every transaction and many services do this automatically. Additionally, services like CoinJoin obscure ownership by 'mixing' coins. Projects like Dark Wallet are working on integrating this sort of coin mixing into normal wallet operations.

  • Illegal drugs are still being used not because they are banned, but because of their mind altering effect. Bitcoins have no value in itself. – Jori May 9 '14 at 9:20
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    @Jori. Define "value". A woodstick has no value but some people sell them and others buy them. The value is given by the people, so if people gives value to bitcoin it will have a value, banned or not. – YoMismo May 9 '14 at 9:53
  • No, that is not true. Of course bitcoin has value (just like regular currency), but objects like a stick, illicit drugs or food have inherit value, i.e. they can be used to do stuff. Ultimately only those objects will have true value (e.x. in economical collapse, or ban of it). Nobody is going to risk 20 years in prison for something that has no inherit value. At least I cannot think of an example. – Jori May 10 '14 at 9:28
  • Except for some crazy freedom cypherpunks of course ;-) But we are talking here about the pragmatic majority of the people. – Jori May 10 '14 at 9:37
  • @Jori There's no such thing as "inherent value". If you were a castaway in an island, would you rather have one kilogram of gold or 100 liters of water? All value imbued into things is dependent on circumstances and on perception by potential buyers. – Joe Pineda May 10 '14 at 17:19

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