Friday, July 13, 2012

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Bitcoin Owners Buying Over USD$650K in Linden Dollars Per Month on a Single Exchange!

Bitcoin Linden Dollar exchange

Bitcoin may not be used by many people, but here's a very interesting thing: It's being used to buy a lot of Linden Dollars, the official currency of Second Life. Reader Danielle recently pointed us to this very interesting chart of Linden Dollar-Bitcoin transactions on the Virtual World Exchange. If I'm reading it right, 167,629,615 in Linden Dollars were recently exchanged for Bitcoin and vice versa in a single 30 day period -- that's over USD$650,000 at current market rates, per month. On just one third party exchange. (There are others where Bitoin is traded for Linden Dollars, I believe.)

Now, this isn't a massive amount of Linden Dollars in the wider scheme of things, since tens of millions worth of L$ changes hands on a monthly basis, but it is significant. Especially because Linden Dollars can and often are bought and sold for US dollars. The tantalizing question (which we'll likely never know) is this:

Where are most of those Bitcoins going -- into the Second Life economy, to buy virtual mansions and digital Ferraris? Or straight through the SL system and out as cold hard US$, where they're spent on real goods and services? A well-regarded academic told me recently that Bitcoin can't really be free from the powers that be, because it rides on rails that they control. I'm not an expert like him, but if Bitcoin goes through the Second Life economy before coming out as cash, isn't it at least a little bit freer from the powers that be?

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Pienaar

Ok, now I am making a mean comment but the most obvious possibility is this...: money laundring by organized crime.

miscreanity

Linden dollars don't endure the scrutiny bitcoins do. There is a near-constant stream of users having issues with deposits and withdrawals at Bitcoin exchanges, but there's almost never any issue with SLL transactions.

It's simply the flow of capital seeking the path of least resistance. If Linden Labs becomes a target for governments, there might be a large shift toward Liberty Reserve or another method of transfer.

There are numerous reasons for use of Bitcoin, not just organized crime. As governments try to squeeze their own economies, there will be greater incentive to use alternatives, especially Bitcoin.

Remember, Bitcoin is not confined to a single nation or region. No government, not even a collective effort such as the UN, is realistically capable of stopping it.

pregg

@Pienaar "Organized crime" is a far too obfuscated notion to be able to reason about, so it's almost never an obvious explanation. The volume is easily explained by the fact that SLL can be bought with CC/PayPal and BTC can't (Actually I will try this myself in a few moments, I love both Bitcoin and SecondLife). Also the nature of SLL makes BTC/SLL a suitable medium for speculators.

As for the fact that Bitcoin can never be free, well, I think we'll see. It's currently free enough, and if it comes to it, there is the option of creating a world-wide mesh network. However I really don't think things would have to go that far. "The powers that be" isn't a centralized entity that have an individual decision making process. If enough of us want to be free, they will not fight to that extent. Maybe I'm too optimistic...

Arcadia Codesmith

Oh great. Now we're Cayman Islands Online. Did anybody bring lotion? I burn easily.

Happ MacDonald

Well, I use both VirWox and The Rock to trade Lindens with Bitcoin.

It's not the fastest way to change Bitcoin back or forth into USD, but it does work. When you have an account in good standing, the trading floors and Linden Labs act as a buffer between paypal and BTC so that you can buy BTC with standard money, so that's handy.

However, what I mostly do is two things:

1> Earn Lindens in SL (I've a decently successful shop, selling games and sound gestures) and buy BTC with them

2> arbitrage between VirWoX and The Rock to make profits when their prices aren't matching. BTC is easy to transfer of course, and moving Lindens through SL from one market to the other is also easy. Compare that with moving USD between markets like MtGox.. ;P

Dave Bell

It sounds a bit crazy, but I have always been told that individual L$ have a unique serial number, so that every transaction can be traced. There's a couple of restrictions on trading which are consistent with that.

Edmund Edgar

I guess the other factor here may simply be that there's quite a lot of overlap between the Bitcoin user community and the Second Life / Linden Dollar user community.

They're both early-adopter, fairly techie, slightly wacky, community-centred etc etc. And if you're already used to the idea of using Linden Dollars as actual money, you're probably less resistant to the idea that Bitcoins can be proper money too.

lifer

That number is actually telling how many lindens were sold.

kirasumi

None of this currency exists. It is all fake. It is a perception of wealth, of future wellbeing. A paradigm-shift that is yet to come to fruition. I feel sorry for all the fools, convinced that any kind of numbers in a computer shall be the promise to pay. Actually, I just created 400 trillion of bit coins right now, and 800 other digital currencies with nothing backing them. Don't worry, I've already got my fingers crossed for the power grid, and i just bought your Mum for an hour. Transferred the "money" to her Sims playstation account.

Bernanke

I use bitcoins as a temporary "bank".

It's a much safer way to store my hard earned Lindens than trusting a corporation like Linden Lab, or trust a government (both of which have the ability to print infinite amounts of their currency).

Krell Karu

@kirasumi : You are displaying willful ignorance. You did _not_ just create 400 trillion Bitcoins. The creation of Bitcoins is governed by immutable mathematics. No more than 21 million will ever be created. Cannot. The algorithm will not allow it.

If you have a point to make, it got buried underneath your bluster.

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