Colorado-based developer Nick Carlson came to our attention when he was mentioned in a splashy story about the Bitcoin project, an initiative in which savvy techies trade for goods and services using an unregulated, standardized digital currency. Mr. Carlson has been curious about Bitcoins since he read about them in April and realized that “the mathematical principles behind the currency were sound.” He bought some Bitcoins through a private transaction on Reddit.
Barring legal intervention, Mr. Carlson told Betabeat, Bitcoins are a viable currency. But most people are not using them for commerce, he said–they’re trading them to make money. So five days ago he decided to do an experiment to see how Bitcoin stands up to the dollar.
It took Mr. Carlson just two days to find a client who was willing to pay for his services as a software developer (he codes C++, C99, C#, Python and Lua) in Bitcoins after posting on Reddit and other forums. He’s charging five Bitcoins an hour for 12 hours of work, which works out to about $30 an hour–pretty cheap labor. But hey, it’s for science. Mr. Carlson answered some questions about the experiment by email.
How long have you been using Bitcoins?
Bitcoin came on to my radar in mid April. I read through Satoshi
Nakamoto’s [inventor of Bitcoins –ed.] whitepaper and saw that the mathematical principles behind the currency were sound. I subsequently purchased my first Bitcoins via a private transaction through a user on Reddit.
What do you use them for?
As a software developer, I have two interests related to Bitcoin:
1.) Provide digital goods and services in exchange for Bitcoins.
2.) Provide digital services which facilitate the exchange of Bitcoins between various parties.
As an average Joe, I plan on using Bitcoin as I would any other currency.
Do you foresee them catching on?
Yes. However, I’m not sure which markets will see the greatest and fastest adoption.
If there’s one point I’d like to communicate in this interview it’s the following: Bitcoin may fail for any number of reasons, technical or non-technical. But, cryptocurrency is here to stay. Software evolves quickly. Any technical point of failure in Bitcoin’s adoption will be remedied by the next cryptocurrency, whether that’s Bitcoin 2.0 or an entirely new project.
Moreover, I expect to see significant academic interest in this area.
What are the reasons to use Bitcoins?
In my experience so far, most people are using Bitcoins as an investment vehicle. As of this writing, the largest public Bitcoin exchange is seeing the currency trade at approximately $7.25 USD per Bitcoin. In other words, Bitcoins have real market value. Seeing that Bitcoins were trading for under $0.50 USD six months ago, the investment has been incredibly lucrative for some.
That said, the potential uses for Bitcoin are innumerable.
Do Bitcoins compete with Facebook Credits?
Facebook is a closed ecosystem. Essentially, Facebook can choose not to compete with Bitcoin by forbidding applications from accepting Bitcoins via developer Terms of Service.
You accepted a 12 hour project for which you’ll make 60 bitcoins.
What could you have made in dollars for that same amount of work?
For client work, I quote between $75 and $150 USD per hour depending on the difficulty of the project. When I accepted the quote of 60 Bitcoins for 12 hours of work, Bitcoins were trading at roughly $6 USD. Obviously, this equates to a rate significantly below my normal hourly rate. However, I expect Bitcoins to appreciate significantly in value in the coming months. Moreover, I’m happy to see press coverage of cryptocurrencies.