Bitcoin is not a Ponzi

“A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that pays existing investors with funds collected from new investors… Ponzi scheme organizers often promise high returns with little or no risk. Instead, they use money from new investors to pay earlier investors and may steal some of the money for themselves.” - US Securities and Exchange Commission

Many governments such as the UK and US have large debts and spend more than they earn. They repay existing debts by taking on new debt. They pay returns and portray themselves as ‘risk free’. And by continuing to run spending deficits, the governments always take some of the money for themselves. Given this, government debt schemes such as US Treasuries and UK Gilts look very much like Ponzi schemes.

With only a small percentage of cash reserves compared with customer deposits, fractionally-reserved commercial banks can often only repay existing customers with new cash deposits. They also promise returns in the form of interest with little or no risk. And by charging fees and paying out less interest than they earn from depositors’ funds, they always take some money for themselves. Therefore commercial banks also resemble Ponzi schemes.

Cryptos (as distinct from Bitcoin) typically have Ponzi-like features. Insiders often receive a large proportion of the coins ‘pre-mine’, generate hype around the retail launch and drive up (‘pump’) the price. They then sell (‘dump’) their large stake to new investors, crashing the price and leaving outsiders holding all the coins. They often entice victims by promising high returns in the form of ‘yield’, normally above prevailing market interest rates.

By contrast, bitcoin holders are promised no repayment, returns, interest or yield. The only payments Bitcoin makes are to nodes called ‘miners’ (which need not already hold any bitcoin) for providing transaction processing and security services. Bitcoin makes no claims about risk, and does not receive or steal any money. Bitcoin isn’t even an investment scheme – it’s simply a monetary good.

Unlike government bonds, commercial banks and many cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin exhibits no Ponzi-like characteristics.

Bitcoin is not a Ponzi.