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Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

Posted December 07, 2015 6:59 PM by Hannes

In the last Networking & Communications blog post, chemewordsmith posited that cryptocurrency--the most well-known of which is bitcoin--is in some capacity here to stay. News from this week may already be proving this prognostication correct.

Last month Goldman Sachs filed a patent application for a new cryptocurrency they're calling "SETLcoin." The currency is a component of a broader proposed settlement management system aimed at reducing settlement times for securities transactions, which often take days due to the financial mire of middlemen and other monetary difficulties. SETLcoin would use blockchain "general ledger" technology very similar to bitcoin's.

Based on Goldman's patent application, SETLcoin is a little more complicated than a typical cryptocurrency. First, a single "coin" has indefinite value, even in securities. Assuming an example of trading Google stock, an "unmarked" SETLcoin can be assumed to have a single-share value, in which case it would be simply termed "1 GOOG-S" [SETLcoins are labeled according to their ticker symbol accompanied by an "-S"]. But the same label can be marked as having a plural denomination of the same share; ie. "1 GOOG-S valued at 100 Google shares" is a single SETLcoin worth 100 Google shares. I find this needlessly confusing, but on we go.

What's more, SETLcoins can be assigned values corresponding to a number of different currencies. So, a single IBM-S can be exchanged for a certain amount of another company's stock or a SETLcoin worth US dollars. They can also be directly converted into cryptocurrency, so you could trade your IBM-S for 100 litecoins, or 5 bitcoins, or whatever it's deemed to be worth. In that case the whole SETL concept is lost in the conversion to cryptocurrency, if I'm reading the press release correctly.

[Unbeknownst to me before researching this blog post,] there are hundreds of cryptocurrency types, of which only a handful are notable or have large ($10 million+) market caps. And while the more decentralized alternative currencies like bitcoin are starting to gain some clout in the marketplace, corporate currencies like the one Goldman's proposing don't have much of a precedent, which seems worrisome. After all, how much do you trust your bank without the backing and oversight of the Federal Reserve?

But while many are touting SETLcoin as a "cryptocurrency," it seems to function more like a Goldman Sachs giftcard. Because a coin only has value insofar as value is ascribed to it by a seller/buyer/Goldman, I see this proposed system more like using a debit card instead of a check at the grocery store: the currency's coming from the same place and you have to trust a middleman to some degree (Goldman in the case of SETL, or Visa/MasterCard for debit card services), but it's much more convenient and efficient. And while it's a little different in principle, a few corporate players have been trying to get involved in or spur the "cryptorevolution" for some time now--Goldman's certainly not the first.

It'll be interesting to see if this system comes to pass. A successful patent application would open up the need for enhanced network and database security to protect an as yet unregulated and decentralized currency. I, for one, will be skipping the SETL conversation and continuing to wait my four business days.

Image credit: Rommyn/CC BY-SA 4.0

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#1

Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/09/2015 11:30 AM

This is a bunch of crap. Just because someone makes something and says it has value doesn't make it have value. That is called Fiat Money, which ever since we took our US currency off the Gold Standard our "politicians" have been printing paper that is almost worthless and saying it has value. A dollar printed in 1918 now has the value of .18 cents. That is what happens when you have a currency not backed by any hard asset, i.e. gold, silver, precious metals, minereals.

When the rest of the world finally realizes that we're toast. Stick a fork in us, we're done being a financial powerhouse in the world economy.

Does anyone remember the "Continental" from the Revolutionary War times when the Continental Congress printed paper money, not backed by any gold or hard asset, to pay for services and material to carry out our war of independence. Pretty soon there was so much "money" being printed the term was coined, "it isn't worth a Continental".

Genghis Kahn also did the same thing as he conquered new territory. He would issue his form of currency, said it had value and that was what was used.

Don't fall for the scam of Bitcoins. It is just another way for people to separate you from the assets you have. "Follow the money trail."

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#2
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/09/2015 6:34 PM

"Value: A lot of 1918 $1 bills are worth between $20 and $100. Bank notes that show very little wear can sell for around $150. Choice uncirculated notes have a wide range of values, and usually start at around $300. "
Jus sayin'....

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#3
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/09/2015 6:42 PM

I get your point but it is the value of that same dollar bill, not the value of the printed bill as a collector's item.

It for sure doesn't have the same buying power and it is because our government has been given free-reign of our currency, through Amendments passed in 1913 and also taking us off the Gold Standard. This gave them carte blanche to print whatever they wanted and to spend money like a bunch of aimless drunks.

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#4
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/09/2015 8:58 PM

In the US you are free to convert all or part of your currency into gold...the simple explanation is there is not enough gold to go around...you would basically start a bidding war for gold and this would drive the price of gold up and up and up, so you see the concept of a commodity based currency does not work in today's world economy...there would have to be an endless supply, which would then make it's value meaningless, so you would have the concept of a credit based currency anyway...

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#5

Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/10/2015 7:58 AM

It is because our currency is not based upon any solid commodity that there is so much "money" in the system.

Fractional Reserve Banking is a scam on the highest order. And that is made possible by not having our currency based upon anything solid.

The Federal Reserve is an oxymoron, it is neither Federal or does it have a Reserve. It sounds good and plausible though and therefore it is accepted by the dumb "We the People" who have no concept of finance.

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#6
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/10/2015 12:44 PM

Wealth is continuously created in a successful growing society, this creates some inflation, which is good....Look at historical perspective, money that was based on a commodity ...Do you see any commodity based societies that are prospering? If what you say is true it should then be self evident...because it's not a new concept....

"Fractional Reserve Banking is a scam on the highest order. And that is made possible by not having our currency based upon anything solid."

So you don't think the United States of America is solid?!? Wake up! it doesn't get any more solid than that... Entire supply of gold, including jewelry=~$6.5 trillion combined wealth of the world~$243 trillion.... the world population has grown over 78 million so far this year, wealth must be created at a growing rate....if the wealth was evenly distributed among the population everyone would have just $32,400...

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_money

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#7
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/10/2015 1:24 PM

The American economy is not solid! It is a House of Cards. A debt of $19+Trillion. Unfunded liability of something like $150Trillion.

You're correct about growth economically. Our economy is not a zero-sum-gain and it can grow. The "pie" does increase. The way that you want it to grow by though is real growth based upon increased goods or services and not because some dumb bureauacrat wants to enrich his buddies in the banking industry.

Read "Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek. It is a great book on economics and finance. And those things are not political at all. They are principles that are available to all. It is just that the different political entities view and implement those principles differently, much to our demise and financial security. When the gov gets involved and doesn't let free enterprise and capitalism work, you wind up with many more booms, bubbles and busts, i.e. the Crash of 1929, 2008, the Housing Bubble Crash, among others.

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#8
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/10/2015 1:50 PM

The American economy is the definition of a solid economy...It is the most solid economy in the world....In order for the economy to grow the amount of currency must grow, it's that simple.... When people try to base the economy on a commodity, that's when it gets unstable....the commodity becomes overvalued....this is what happened with real estate, and is still happening....

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#9
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/10/2015 4:40 PM

What part of $20Trillion debt is a sign of a solid economy?

Debt and unfunded liability is a cancer that will kill the patient. I understand there is some "good debt", that being investment in business development, but that brings a ROI. Consumer debt and gov debt doesn't, it just adds rocks in the backpack of the climber. Add enough rocks, i.e. taxes, debt, and the climber, i.e. those producing business and income, will quit climbing.

The killer of our country's economy is unbridled spending by the gov and the indebtedness of our citizens. When people are out of debt (check out Orrin Woodwards - Financial Matrix talk on youtube.com) they have discretionary money that they will spend on goods and services, invest in businesses, etc.

The reason real estate got out of whack was because of gov interference, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other programs like them. The gov screws up everything they get involved in. Bureaucrats are not businessmen, they are simply good at third-party purchases, spending someone else's money.

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#10
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/10/2015 7:23 PM

Our current debt levels are a direct result of the real estate collapse of 2008-2009 and will dissipate with time...The struggle to get medicare/medicaid costs under control will probably be an ongoing battle for some time....The interest payments on the public debt are minimal at these low interest rates...The government must continue to spend money to raise GDP....You make it sound like there is a quick fix that can be had by curtailing government spending, that is not realistic and would lead to economic disaster...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States

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#11
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/11/2015 9:02 AM

There is certainly no quick fix to problem on a national scale. As Albert Einstein said, "the significant issues we deal with can't be solved with the same level of thinking that it took to create them." That deals with debt, relationships, mechanical issues, etc.

Even a tiny bit of interest on trillions of dollars is an astronomical amount of money that needs to go to service that national debt. It's killing us.

As far as growing the GDP, that isn't the job of government, it is small business, entrepreneurs, corporations that produce goods and services that grows an economy.

The way we become solvent economically as a country is by getting rid of the cancer of personal and national consumer debt, i.e. money borrowed for depreciating items or things that don't bring an ROI. As the Bible says, "the borrower is slave to the lender."

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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/11/2015 1:15 PM

"Even a tiny bit of interest on trillions of dollars is an astronomical amount of money that needs to go to service that national debt. It's killing us."

You do realize, we print the money ourselves....?

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#13
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/11/2015 3:10 PM

Yes, which makes it even worse because inflating the money supply is like dumping Manopoly money from a helicopter and telling everyone it is as the same buying power as normal currency. This form of "money" is Fiat Money. Look up the term and see if it applies to what our gov is doing and has been doing a lot of since 1913.

Just a question for you; who has lent us that money? Do you think they might ever want to be paid back?

Look up Gold Standard and its relationship to a viable currency.

Just because we are surviving, barely, doesn't mean we should keep going as we are. If we were a viable country financially we would be the economy that would be matched anywhere in the world.

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#14
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/11/2015 5:22 PM

Then how do you explain such a low inflation rate?

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#15
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/11/2015 7:23 PM

I'm not an economist so I don't know all the factors that are used to determine the inflation rate or what things impact that completely. I do know that debt is a cancer that will eventually kill the patient, and we have debt that has metasticized throughout our country, from citizens to government.

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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/11/2015 11:50 PM

Well we know what happens when debts get too large to pay, it's not like it doesn't happen all the time....it does....the debt is restructured...Not saying that is going to happen ever here in the US, but it did in Greece....it wasn't the end of the world....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_theory_of_money

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tally_stick

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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/12/2015 2:07 PM

Restructuring a debt doesn't help change the faulty thinking about finances that caused the problem in the first place. All it does it "kick the can down the road" and it will have to be faced at some time in the future.

Fix the wrong thinking about money and live debt free. It is one of the most freeing thing one will ever experience. You are no longer a slave to some bank who doesn't care a whit about anyone, other than lining their own pockets. There are a lot of misconceptions that people have regarding finances; debt is ok, everyone is going to be in debt so why not me too, you need to have a good credit score (being debt free you don't care how the bank rates their chance of making money off of you, because they don't).

Be debt free and shove a stick in the eye of the banks.

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#18
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/12/2015 2:26 PM

Well I am debt free....but there's a big difference between personal finances and running the largest economies in the world....If your children were starving and homeless, would you be willing to borrow money to house and feed them....so they could get jobs and make the payments...What if you multiplied that times a million? 10 million?? 100 million??? We have to do what we can to ease suffering and raise the quality of life, we have to try to make it work....

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#19
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/12/2015 2:33 PM

Obviously you and I have differing views about how an economy grows. You think it is by the govs hand and I think it is the gov getting out of the way and letting business owners, large and small alike, develope their companies, hire people, buy products, provide services, etc. That is how an economy grows long term. The gov is never the solution to a vibrant economy.

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#20
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/12/2015 2:50 PM

No the government is here to protect the people...and help to raise the quality of life...things big business would crush in the name of profit...If you want to see how much big business does for the people on their own, take a look at the superfund sites and you get a glimpse of what the world would look like without the government....

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#21
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Re: Goldman Sachs Attempting to Enter the Cryptocurrency Game

12/14/2015 9:15 AM

I understand there is a need for government for the preservation of our livelihood, but they are to govern according to Constitutional guidelines, not what they are doing now. Their job is to protect our sovereignty as a nation, protect our borders, have a judicial system that works well for its legal citizens, help to respond to disasters corporately that individual states can't do on their own. Other than that they're not supposed to do much else. The states and localities are to be the ones who give guidelines.

The national gov should not have their hands in education, subsidies for corp., housing (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.), and a host of other areas. All they should do is have the structure set where individuals and business can thrive according to free enterprise and capitalist principles. The judicial system is there to hold people accountable for their actions if they, individuals or businesses, choose to act without character and integrity.

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