Date
23 October 2017
The US Marshals Service says it might auction off more bitcoins seized during the closure of the Silk Road marketplace. Photo: Bloomberg
The US Marshals Service says it might auction off more bitcoins seized during the closure of the Silk Road marketplace. Photo: Bloomberg

Buying into the bitcoin revolution

Silk Road is dead but long live bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that oiled one of the few marketplaces to offer one-stop shopping for heroin, fake passports and apparel.

The US Marshals Service auctioned off 29,656 of the 144,000-plus bitcoins seized by the FBI after it shut down Silk Road and arrested its operator last year, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

The auction on June 27 attracted 45 bidders, with the hoard going to Tim Draper, co-founder of investment firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the report said. Draper plans to work with bitcoin exchange Vaurum to “provide liquidity and confidence to markets that have been hamstrung by weak currencies”. 

The exchange said it has launched trading platforms in emerging markets and will use the cache as a liquidity source. “It’s still quite difficult to get access to bitcoin in these developing economies — and that’s exactly where it is needed the most,” Vaurum said.

The auction was a rare chance to buy bitcoin in bulk, given that liquidity on exchanges is low, the report said. But not everyone is bitcoin believer — Warren Buffett has reportedly said he wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not around in a decade or so.

It does seem like a long shot to think that a piece of software could be just the currency an Andean farmer needs to sell her crop of quinoa but who is anyone to deter a Silicon Valley venture capitalist from trying? After all, the estimated US$19 million Draper spent on the trove is a small price to pay to buy into a revolution. It’s probably less than some moguls spend on soft furnishings in their Hamptons mansions. 

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RA/SK

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