Some people have described a bitcoin as a commodity, but every commodity I see on this Wikipedia page seem to have a non-financial purpose, which also gives it a financial value.

What can be done with a "Bitcoin" (if anything) that has a non-financial purpose?


3 Answers 3

  • A Bitcoin can be used to permanently trace the association between different public keys. For example a user can send a transaction to a second user and publicly and permanently link the accounts. This may have utility in Web Of Trust scenarios.

  • The low value bits of an individual bitcoin can cheaply store metadata.

  • Saving them as a collectors item

  • Sharing (p2p style) a small amount of data


Sign messages ensuring that the message came only from the owner of that address.


There also seems to be an underlying question here about whether Bitcoin is a commodity.

There are multiple definitions of commodity, one of which (I think the one you mean) being a good which is fungible (ie one unit of the item is essentially the same as all the others, such as grains of wheat), but also that it is a marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs.

This page discusses money as a good and proposes that "A good can be a Medium of Exchange but not a Unit of Account". Bitcoin has big advantages as a medium of exchange, but because it (currently) experiences high volatility it isn't such a great unit of account compared with most govt currencies. For example, most people wouldn't really want to owe a balance of bitcoins for their mortgage in case they ended up having to pay back several times the dollar value they borrowed thanks to changes in the BTC/$ exchange rate. For the same reason, most retailers that accept Bitcoin probably automatically adjust their prices based on the exchange rate, rather than fixing the price in bitcoins.

However, even though Bitcoin isn't a great unit of account, it's doesn't necessarily mean it should be considered a commodity. This article discusses why gold should not be considered a commodity, and the scarcity and growing popularity of gold give it a very similar market dynamic to Bitcoin.

My view is that the comparison with gold is especially apt, since there is a small fundamental demand where Bitcoin can fulfill a want or need (just like gold), yet by far the majority of demand is speculative. This means it shouldn't be treated as a commodity.

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