One of the main arguments I hear against bitcoin is that “it has no intrinsic value. The thing about money is that it doesn’t need to have intrinsic value. Money has to have a few things to make it “good money”.
It should be scarce.
It should be divisible.
It should be transmissible.
It should be immutable.
It should be difficult to counterfeit.
It should be assayable (easy to verify it is what it says it is).
Gold is good at some of these things, for example being scarce and immutable. But it is bad at others, it is not very divisible and it is not very transmissible. It’s very hard to purchase something with $1 worth of gold. It’d be a very tiny spec of gold that you’d have a hard time telling that it was really gold or just a dust flake.
Fiat money (US dollars or other country dollars) are easier to transmit around the world (although they take a few days to settle international transactions or across borders). They are hard to counterfeit but they are easy for the US government to print more anytime they want.
I’ve collected a few articles and quotes about Bitcoin, money and intrinsic value.
There is no such thing as “intrinsic value” in the sense of an object having objective value in and of itself. As a thought experiment, think of assets typically assumed to hold intrinsic value such as gold, farmland, stocks and real estate. Now imagine a world where no humans exist. Do these assets still have value? The answer has to be no, because value only makes sense in the context of human existence.
Because of the luxury enjoyed by Americans and citizens of many developed countries, the benefits brought about by Bitcoin may not be as obvious as they are for many people in developing nations. Inflation in the United States has been persistent, but not devastating over the past two generations, and most people haven’t had issues with their banking services being shut down.
The Rai stones used by the Yap people are another example of a store of value without commodity use.
“What backs the dollar (or euro or yen, etc.) in the first place? When attempting to answer this question, the retort is most often that the dollar is backed by the government, the military (guys with guns), or taxes. However, the dollar is backed by none of these. Not the government, not the military and not taxes. Governments tax what is valuable; a good is not valuable because it is taxed. Similarly, militaries secure what is valuable, not the other way around. And a government cannot dictate the value of its currency; it can only dictate the supply of its currency.
Venezuela, Argentina, and Turkey all have governments, militaries and the authority to tax, yet the currencies of each have deteriorated significantly over the past five years. While it’s not sufficient to prove the counterfactual, each is an example that contradicts the idea that a currency derives its value as a function of government.”