Through the frozen weather here in Texas, I’m listening to podcasts all day and Peter Schiff is in the mix. Peter is clearly no Bitcoin genius, yet he is smart to seriously compare DOGE to BTC (while making a case for gold.)
In short, he argues DOGE and BTC are very similar, therefore you shouldn’t take Bitcoin seriously either. (Assuming DOGE is really a joke.)
First, he smartly attacks the lifetime supply/inflation argument by comparing the inflation rate of DOGE with the inflation rate of gold. I’ll give Peter some credit here. I knew DOGE has an infinite supply over time, but I never really considered the rate of inflation as a percentage compared to gold.
According to a YouTube interview with the founder, DOGE’s first release was really unpolished and had some surprises, like a random block reward. That’s where people get away with calling DOGE a joke. And of course, the project itself was inspired by memes. But at some point early in the history of DOGE, I think there was a community of users that wanted DOGE to be useful. That’s the impression I got from watching “Mad Bitcoins” videos. I recommend watching the older videos here.
In any case, the supply curve of DOGE was up for debate. From what I remember, you can find this debate archived somewhere on bitcointalk.org. To summarize, I think the DOGE community wanted a kinder, more friendly type of supply curve that might be more appealing to late adopters. I think the net result was some kind of compromise. Not a fast line of supply to infinity, but instead a slow line of supply to infinity.
Peter Schiff seemed to indicate it wasn’t too generous to late adopters or too burdensome on early adopters, but comparable to gold. OK, that’s a fine argument.
The problem with that argument, in my opinion: In the future if you have $100 of earnings to save, you will double your money a little faster in BTC than you will in DOGE, simply because of the scarcity, ceteris paribus. When I say “in the future” I mean after everyone has figured out how all these algorithms work, you will just look at the charts and the historic evidence will be obvious. I think even children in the future will know a Bitcoin is more scarce than a Dogecoin. Is that ten years from now or a hundred years from now, I don’t know.
Also we should consider DOGE’s total supply is an Apples to Oranges comparison. DOGE has more units by design. CoinMarketCap says DOGE has a circulating supply of 128,345,470,276 units and BTC has a circulating supply of 18,627,337 units. If we completely ignore inflation, DOGE currently has BILLIONS of units, whereas BTC has millions of units, that’s a big difference! And that’s assuming nobody died or lost their coins, if you were wondering.
I would also assume Bitcoin has more total users and therefore a larger community, and the resulting network effects are important for increased adoption of various technology integrations. This will become more important over time as DOGE fails to keep up with the pace of Bitcoin development.
1. (Peter has a good argument, but still wrong.) In the future, after all the volatility is worked out, all things equal, if you just compare the supply curves, Bitcoins will increase in value faster than Dogecoins. Over time, the history will be more and more clear, nobody wants to lose money. There’s no guarantee, but that’s my analysis.
2. (Peter is wrong.) Much more importantly, DOGE development is stalled for years and years with no plans to update or catch up to Bitcoin. Last I heard, there was no plan to even upgrade DOGE with Segwit technology. While I can appreciate the allure of old technology (like Windows XP) eventually the code is just too old and stops working. But for a serious comparison, we’re not just talking about basic upkeep, we’re talking about future enhancements, increased functionality, and increased security, that’s where Bitcoin will outshine its competition.
Could DOGE be updated in the future to catch up with Bitcoin? Maybe it’s a possibility, but as far as I know, I think it is unlikely. This is based on what I heard from the founder a few years ago (YouTube interview.)
Here’s another analogy. Two horses. One horse is very old, neglected, malnourished, with open sores. The other horse has a whole team of caretakers and is the best of breed in every way, from nutrition to training. Which horse wins? Without some kind of freak accident, the answer is obvious. And Bitcoin’s record is looking better and better every day. It’s proven technology with a long record of success.
3. (Peter is very wrong.) One of the greatest arguments for Bitcoin, it has and will continue to attract the strongest, most talented developers. That makes sense to me. If you’re truly a gifted developer and mathematical genius, your alias will be on this page. If you’re on that level, you probably won’t settle for less.
Whereas the original DOGE founder is no longer involved in the codebase and I don’t think he was ever especially skilled in the first place. He was never a Sunny King type of visionary. DOGE was basically a cut-paste type of operation with a few modifications.
4. (Peter is right, for now.) The learning curve for DOGE is low. If you asked me to teach a room full of people how to use DOGE, it’s easy and it wouldn’t cost me more than a few dollars. You could transfer DOGE around the room from person to person in a reasonable amount of time and I think it would work pretty well without any confusion. Is this a weakness for Bitcoin? For large purchases, like Tesla buying 1.5 Billion worth of Bitcoin, paying a few dollars in transaction fees is not a problem. (Note: You pay higher fees for faster transactions.)
Buying something less expensive, like a coffee, the Bitcoin validation fee could seem prohibitive. However, I believe that problem is mostly solved, either by the Lightning Network or by some other technology. Incremental advancements like Segwit have, and will continue to increase the speed of the Bitcoin network.
Assuming DOGE transactions validate faster than Bitcoin given equal transaction fees, I think Peter Schiff is right on this point. For now. However, the Lightning Network is fairly evolved at this point. I hear it’s about as fast as a credit card transaction. And because DOGE doesn’t have Segwit, it has no chance of joining the Lightning Network. That’s not good for DOGE’s future.
5. (Peter is mostly wrong.) Network security. DOGE has only 856 nodes. Bitcoin has 9502 nodes. Obviously Bitcoin’s network is larger, more robust, less vulnerable to an attack, and probably faster in some countries due to the distribution and sophistication of the nodes compared to DOGE. That’s unlikely to change, because like I said, Bitcoin has the best developers.
I think that addresses the main arguments for/against Bitcoin and Doge. Personally, I wouldn’t even compare Bitcoin to Dogecoin. But that’s what is on everyone’s mind right now. It’s no contest, and that’s not because of any joke, or meme, but for the reasons I mentioned. I must give Peter Schiff some credit here, because DOGE does work, last I checked, and shouldn’t be completely disregarded as a “joke” with no utility. Like I said, for educational purposes, I think DOGE is a fine way to learn how cryptocurrency works.
Maybe DOGE has some unlikely future advantage, the same way a classic car might race past a Tesla after an EMP strike. But in real life, in the event of a disaster, I would count on Bitcoin to recover quickly, with the sharpest minds in the world working on attacking and improving it. Then again, old technology sometimes has a robustness to it. New code tends to break things in unlikely ways.
Overall, Bitcoin has many more eyeballs looking out for pitfalls, and all changes go through rigorous testing. A stale codebase is more vulnerable than an active codebase.