On February 25th, 2014 ~2:00 am GMT MtGox died. I’m sorry for all the bitcoin users who lost fiat money or bitcoins in there, and especially for some of them who were using the bitcoin arbitrage toy I wrote.
During the last 6 hours, I received ~20 emails, some of them threatening me, most of them insulting me (+1 for turkish insults). To be clear: I don’t work and I never worked for MtGox and I can’t help you recover your funds. I even warned about the risks of arbitraging bitcoin markets in a previous post, I repeat: Arbitraging is not risky, but putting fiat money or bitcoins in any exchanges is risky. Don’t trust bitcoin exchanges, even those labeled “too big to fail”.
Note: this actually revealed that the tool is used by far more people I was expecting.
Since now, I bought bitcoins for those reasons:
After that, I started to work for bitcoins, I’m a software developer working as freelance. I found a couple of contracts paid in bitcoins.
And I sold some because:
- When you’re paid in bitcoins, you still need to pay the bills and taxes in $/€/¥ depending where you live.
I needed some cash to travel (it’s hard to find hotels and restaurants that accept bitcoins in China)
I did arbitrage, that implies to buy and sell bitcoins. I earned some BTC by doing this and it helps exchanges to stay aligned.
If I had cash, I would buy some today as an investment. When I write “investment”, that does not mean: “to sell later at a higher price”, that means: “to don’t have to buy them later at a higher price”. No one knows if it the good moment to buy, but the price seems low compared to the growing economy, the number of future bitcoins startups ready to launch and the very fragile banking system the world has.
This must be true for most financial activities. But since I’m
receiving something like 5 emails per day from random people  who
wants to run my
most of the time I’m replying with some warnings:
Can you trust the exchanges ? The answer is NO, you can’t:
Trade engine can be laggy (up to 1 hour lag).
APIs are buggy. get-order-book replying with 2 hours delay is
unacceptable. some API function doesn’t work time to time
Bad “cloudflare” config sometimes blocks normal API calls (Yes,
I’m looking at you bitstamp)
The site closes but a part of API is still working (Yes, i’m
looking at you bitcoin24)
And the worst thing: they can close at every moment and block your
money (1 hour to infinity). History prove this one, see what
happened to Bitcoinica, Bitfloor, Bitcoin24,
Bitcoin-Central. Who’s next ?
Can you trust tools ? Of course NO. If you can’t read code (blind,
not a developer or closed source), don’t use the tool. A malicious
dev can steal your money so easily.
To trade you need money, fiat AND bitcoin. If you don’t have
bitcoins, are you ready to buy some ? Yes, risks everywhere !
Moving fiat is so long… SEPA transfers ? sure let me wait a week
(I’m wondering why it’s so slow, do banks have computers ?). That
means you’ll need A BUNCH of money (fiat AND bitcoin) in every
exchanges you’re trading on. Then balance them time to time when
they drift. And that opens a big risk if one exchange closes and
blocks your money.
So yes, Bitcoin arbitrage seems easy and very lucrative, but it’s very
risky. Not because of arbitrage principle itself, but mainly because
you can’t trust exchanges.
 random people includes: developers (who wants to rewrite the tool
home trader (that one is scary), unknown (“hey, i stumbled upon your
program, I’ll give you $500 to make the setup on my computer”).