Greg Albert
Jan 17, 2018 · 5 min read

If Bitcoin is Worth Anything, then Verge is Worth More

A currency has two sources of value. One is extrinsic and the other is intrinsic. The extrinsic value of a currency is its purchasing power. It can buy milk and bread. It can be used to pay rent. Without that power, a currency is worth nothing.

The intrinsic value of a currency is more relative. It is the ease with which it facilitates exchange compared to other available options. Gold can be traded for milk and bread, but gold is difficult to lug around. Goods and services can be bartered for other goods and services, but only in specific markets.

What makes a currency successful is the relative ease with which it mediates all those exchanges. In a country with a stable currency, nearly anything with value can be converted into that currency, which can then be converted into nearly anything else with value. It is the medium between those exchanges.

If there is one thing Bitcoin has exposed, it is that traditional currencies are not the most efficient conceivable mediums of exchange. Cash transfers are impossible over long distances without paying a third party to insure them. Bank transfers can be even less efficient. If you want to send money to your family in a third-world country, for example, it will take several days, you have to pay the bank a premium to transfer it, and there must be another bank on the receiving end. Your family might have to trek several days to receive the money and if they live in the wrong kind of country, they may never receive it at all.

Bitcoin lessens those problems. It can be transferred anywhere in the world in less than three hours. The recipient doesn’t need a bank or permission from the government. All they need is a cell phone signal. The transfer is verified through hundreds of thousands of computers peppered around the world, which would have to do a mathematically impracticable amount of work in order to record a false transaction. Nothing is foolproof, but algorithms don’t lie. Governments and bank CEOs do. Bitcoin has that advantage.

For all the brilliance of the Bitcoin system, it has some incurable downsides. The Bitcoin transfer time is a long time to wait for a transaction when you’re standing in line at a grocery store. Bitcoin entrepreneurs have some solutions to that, but Bitcoin will never match the speed of a routine transaction. Another downside is that Bitcoin is traceable. It is not as traceable as a bank transaction, but it is not completely clandestine. That’s a problem if you’re trying to get aid to people under the nose of a corrupt regime. Neither traditional currency or bitcoin is perfectly suited for that.

Many cryptocurrencies have risen to provide solutions to those problems. Litecoin was invented to facilitate quicker transactions than Bitcoin. Ethereum was created to solve problems we didn’t know we had, like a lack of smart contracts. And the privacy coins were invented to ensure total anonymity. All privacy coin transactions are completed in fewer than 30 minutes now, which makes them competitive with Litecoin and other speedy coins if you want a private transaction. With a transaction time of less than one minute, Verge is certainly one of the fastest.

But privacy coins have an often-unspoken scalability problem. Privacy is a double-edged sword. It is great for subversive transactions, but how many of those does the average consumer need to make? In reality, most transactions need to be above board. When you buy a computer online, you want a paper trail in case there is a mix-up. Otherwise a vendor could pocket the money and plausibly deny you ever sent it. For other privacy coins, that is not an option. They can be used for the small minority of transactions that need to remain private, but for most transactions, their protocols pose an unnecessary risk that non-privacy coins don’t pose. That necessarily relegates them to a minority role in the universe of possible cryptocurrency exchanges.

That is not the case with Verge. The developers of Verge designed the platform so that privacy would be optional, determined by the needs of the user. In Q1 of 2018, they rolled out a mechanism they call the “Wraith Protocol,” which allows users to select whether they want their transaction to be public or private. It is a huge advantage to be able to select a private or public transaction with the same coin. It opens that coin up to both markets, making it a quantifiable fact that Verge is more is more versatile than any other public or private coin. That is not an opinion. It is deductive truth.

With the introduction of Wraith, Verge has become the technologically superior coin on the market by many measures. Like Bitcoin, it solves some of the efficiency issues with traditional currencies. Like Litecoin, it can be sent anywhere in the world in less than a minute. Like the privacy coins, it is untraceable. But it has also bridged the gulf between privacy coins and every other kinds of currency by making traceability optional. That opens it up to markets on both sides of the traceability line and improves its scalability by multiples compared to other privacy coins.

It remains to be seen what will happen. Technologically-speaking, there is nothing that Bitcoin can do that Verge cannot, and a whole lot that Verge can do that Bitcoin cannot. The same goes for Verge’s advantage over other privacy coins. That said, it is becoming increasingly clear that cryptocurrency values respond to promotion and the Verge team is known for being disinterested in marketing. On the other hand, growth without marketing is more organic and organic growth tends to have more investor respect and staying power. Verge also appears to get targeted with a lot of internet rumors and falsehoods from cryptocurrency community members who either want its venture capital for their own currencies or just for the sake of trolling, but the more it perseveres through those trials the less weight investors will give them.

Verge can and should become the major competitor to Bitcoin. It has improved upon Bitcoin as Bitcoin has improved upon the dollar. There can be no question that Verge’s platform gives it more access to more market applications than Bitcoin or any of the privacy coins, making it measurably superior to both. In a market that rewards functionality, Verge is easily more valuable than Bitcoin, Litecoin, or other privacy coins. It remains to be seen whether this is that market.

Greg Albert

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Law, Economics, Philosophy, Cryptocurrency.