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Monopoly Without a Monopolist: An Economic Analysis of the Bitcoin Payment System

Author

Listed:
  • Huberman, Gur
  • Leshno, Jacob
  • Moalleni, Ciamac

Abstract

Owned by nobody and controlled by an almost immutable protocol the Bitcoin payment system is a platform with two main constituencies: users and profit seeking miners who maintain the system's infrastructure. The paper seeks to understand the economics of the system: How does the system raise revenue to pay for its infrastructure? How are usage fees determined? How much infrastructure is deployed? What are the implications of changing parameters in the protocol? A simplified economic model that captures the system's properties answers these questions. Transaction fees and infrastructure level are determined in an equilibrium of a congestion queueing game derived from the system's limited throughput. The system eliminates dead-weight loss from monopoly, but introduces other inefficiencies and requires congestion to raise revenue and fund infrastructure. We explore the future potential of such systems and provide design suggestions.

Suggested Citation

  • Huberman, Gur & Leshno, Jacob & Moalleni, Ciamac, 2017. "Monopoly Without a Monopolist: An Economic Analysis of the Bitcoin Payment System," CEPR Discussion Papers 12322, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12322
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bitcoin; blockchain; cryptocurrency; market design; queueing; Two-sided markets;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General

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