What is Bitcoin: Gold, Oil or Cigarettes in Prison

Cointelegraph asked experts what they think the real identity of Bitcoin is, a commodity, a currency or something else.

Aleksandar Matanovic is the Founder and CEO of the Serbian Bitcoin exchange. He thinks that bitcoin is still evolving, but definitely heading somewhere. He said:

“We have been running a local bitcoin exchange for exactly 4 years. During the first year, almost all of our customers were miners. In our second year (2013), some speculators appeared looking to take advantage of extreme price volatility. So, for the first 2 years, we had almost no customers who considered and used bitcoin as a currency. In the last 2 years the trend has slowly been changing. Mining became less profitable, price became more stable, so bitcoin generally became less interesting for miners and speculators. On the other hand, the number of our customers using bitcoin to buy something or for remittance has been increasing at slow and steady rate, and those are in fact the ones using bitcoin as a currency.
To summarize, the data I have available implies that the public perception of bitcoin has been making a transition from a speculative commodity to a currency. I don't think that transition will ever be completed, since you will always be able to look at bitcoin both ways. It comes down to the question of how does the majority of the people use bitcoin? I think the answer is: as a currency. Even if that is not a correct answer at the moment, I am sure it will be in the couple of months or years.”

Complexity of cryptocurrency

Jani Valjavec is the Co Founder of Bitcoin payment processor, Cashila. Jani thinks Bitcoin is a more complex entity. In his words:

“Bitcoin has properties of both currency and commodity. Plus some others. It's a totally new concept, so we can't really frame it into existing definitions.
Harder question would be what is Ether. All that plus internal fuel? New world, new definitions.”

Alena Vranova is the Founder and Director at SatoshiLabs. She is also of the opinion that bitcoin is both a commodity and a currency, and even a bit more. She said:

“I think Bitcoin is both a commodity and a currency, and more than that. Bitcoin primarily is a platform that can be seen as a base for different applications. One of them is Bitcoin as money. Therefore is should always be regarded in the context instead of labelling it.”

Alena Vranova is the Founder and Director at SatoshiLabs

Considering a specific lawsuit where HashFast Technologies, a mining company sued to recover bitcoin paid to a physician for his promotional services, Alena believes it should be possible to have the disputes settled in Bitcoin, saying that for example, the Czech civil code says that the citizen can request settlement in money as well as replacement of the lost/damaged goods or returning the disputed value into the original state. However, with something fluctuating in price as much as Bitcoin does, this could be very dangerous, inviting many opportunists to seek unfair profits. She is also of the opinion that it should be made clear upfront, before entering any commercial relationship, on how eventual disputes or refunds will be handled.

Dual identity of Bitcoin

Michael Vogel of Netcoins, a bitcoin ATM provider in Canada, thinks that bitcoin can be considered to be both a commodity and a currency. He said:

“My opinion is that Bitcoin can be considered a commodity or currency, depending on the way it is used. Interestingly, the commodity value of Bitcoin is invariably tied to its va