Homero Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC's complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold "investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated" from mining.
Jump up ^ "Bitcoin: The Cryptoanarchists' Answer to Cash". IEEE Spectrum. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Around the same time, Nick Szabo, a computer scientist who now blogs about law and the history of money, was one of the first to imagine a new digital currency from the ground up. Although many consider his scheme, which he calls “bit gold,” to be a precursor to Bitcoin
Founded in 2012 as OpenCoin, Ripple got its current name in 2015. The San Franciscan computer software company Ripple Labs was co-founded by Ryan Fugger, Chris Larsen, and Jed McCaleb with the intent to create a decentralized monetary system that would empower individuals to create their own money. Interestingly, McCaleb branched off in 2014 to create Stellar.
Historically, bitcoin prices have exhibited high volatility. In absence of regulations, volatility can be used by the unregulated brokers to their advantage and to a trader’s disadvantage. For example, assume the intraday bitcoin rate fluctuates from $500 to $530 U.S. dollars per bitcoin. For an incoming deposit of 2 bitcoins, the unregulated broker may apply lowest rates to credit the trader $1,000 (2 bitcoins * $500 = $1000). However, once the trader is ready to make a withdrawal, the broker may use the lowest exchange rate and instead of the original 2 bitcoins deposited, the trader only receives 1.88679 bitcoins ($1,000/$530 = 1.88679 bitcoins). In reality, the unregulated broker may be exchanging bitcoins and dollars at say $515, and pocketing the difference at the expense of the client. (For more see Why Is Bitcoin's Value So Volatile?)
There are also purely technical elements to consider. For example, technological advancement in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin result in high up-front costs to miners in the form of specialized hardware and software. Cryptocurrency transactions are normally irreversible after a number of blocks confirm the transaction. Additionally, cryptocurrency private keys can be permanently lost from local storage due to malware, data loss or the destruction of the physical media. This prevents the cryptocurrency from being spent, resulting in its effective removal from the markets.
What’s so special about Bitcoin? There are many arguments on whether the new virtual currency will succeed or fail. We will not get into this nor discuss the politics behind the project. Our concern is strictly with the profit opportunities provided by this new payment phenomenon. In the next few pages on the new digital currency we will outline our thoughts from the perspective of a trader and a potential investor in this upcoming market.