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Do cryptocurrencies really have (no) intrinsic value?

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Depending on the chosen perspective, cryptocurrencies either constitute a unique opportunity to end national patronizing built on debt-based fiat money (currency) or a menace to a well-established financial order that ensures economic stability. A central issue in the heated debate surrounding cryptocurrencies is whether they have any intrinsic value at all. In this conceptual position paper, we briefly summarize existing standpoints and suggest three alternative propositions: (1) to avoid using the term “intrinsic value” for the valuation of cryptocurrencies, (2) to refer to the sum total of all properties that could potentially qualify them as money, and (3) to consider the amount of capital and energy that is needed to create them. These suggestions bear substantial implications for the economic classification of cryptocurrencies.

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  1. Our line of argumentation should not be misunderstood in such a way that we do not approve of the prosecution of crime. Important online and offline activities to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism are currently undertaken by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money and terrorist financing watchdog (

  2. This is why markets cannot achieve allocative efficiency in the face of economic inequality.

  3. Or currencies in general.


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Correspondence to Horst Treiblmaier.

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Responsible Editor: Hans-Dieter Zimmermann.

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Treiblmaier, H. Do cryptocurrencies really have (no) intrinsic value?. Electron Markets 32, 1749–1758 (2022).

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