Bitcoin Comes To Wall Street

12/5/13 12:46PM EST

Bitcoin Comes To Wall Street Bitcoin Comes To Wall Street

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Good news for Bitcoin fans and investors: the virtual currency just came one step closer to entering the mainstream. Bank of America, one of the biggest firms on Wall Street, announced in a comprehensive 14-page memo this morning that it would begin covering the currency.

“We believe Bitcoin can become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money transfer providers,” bank strategists David Woo, Ian Gordon and Vadim Iaralov wrote in the memo. “As a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth, in our view.”

The strategists list several advantages to using Bitcoin, such as low transaction costs and a finite supply of coins, mimicking the availability of gold or silver. They state, “Bitcoin offers an attractive alternative to cash in terms of security, transparancy of transactions, and counterfeiting.”

The memo also goes through disadvantages and potential issues. The strategists note price volatility, possible interference by regulators, and that fact that it’s simply not recognized as legal tender.

After weighing the pros and cons, Bank of America arrived at its analysis of Bitcoin’s fair market value. Woo and associates state that the maximum fair value of a single bitcoin will be $1,300, making the entire Bitcoin institution worth a maximum $15 billion.

Sam Ro of Business Insider thinks it won’t be long before others on Wall Street start covering Bitcoin and offering their own analyses. “Wall Street’s coverage of Bitcoin seemed inevitable considering the amount of money moving in and out of it,” he wrote.

Chinese Government Creates A Setback As It Denounces Bitcoin

There are still some kinks to work out; as Bitcoin becomes increasingly popular, it remains extremely volatile in the world market. The People’s Bank of China announced new nationwide handling restrictions for the coins, causing the value of a single bitcoin to fall from $1,240 to a low of $870 this morning.

The notice of the new restrictions described bitcoins as “not a currency in the real meaning of the word,” according to the New York Times. Rather, bitcoins are a “virtual commodity that does not share the same legal status of a currency. Nor can, or should, it be circulated or used in the marketplace as a currency.” Based on these views, the People’s Bank of China said the new measures were necessary in order to “protect the status of the renminbi as the statutory currency, prevent risks of money laundering and protect financial stability.”

The notice did specify that individuals can participate in Bitcoin investments at their will. “Ordinary members of the public have the freedom to participate in Bitcoin transactions as a kind of commodity trading activity on the Internet, provided they assume the risks themselves,” it said.

The Chinese market was able to make such a huge difference in the price of a bitcoin because, despite government reluctance to accept it, the currency is widely popular in China. Xiong Bin, a 33-year-old Bitcoin holder, explained to the Wall Street Journal, “Our generation doesn’t have enough money to invest in property and I don’t understand economics well enough to invest in the stock market.”