The Overlooked Bitcoin Indicator: Craigslist.org
When discussing the strength of the Bitcoin economy, Craigslist is often overlooked. Other metrics have been used to argue the merits of the currency. The currency exchange rate seems to be the most popular. Some think the number of block chain transactions reflect Bitcoin’s utility. Others think search engine analytics show correlations between web searches, Bitcoin price, transaction volume, and overall success. Some look to the number of Bitcoin core client downloads.
I’m proposing a different indicator of Bitcoin’s success: Craigslist. Critics argue that Bitcoin has no intrinsic value; that there are no merchants that accept it; and those that do immediately liquidate it for a more stable store of value (i.e. the US Dollar). However, data gathered from Craigslist argues otherwise. There are thousands of small sellers accepting Bitcoin across the United States. They comprise a massive peer-to-peer network that has largely been ignored. To prove my point, I aggregated all the Craigslist listings that featured the word “Bitcoin” and calculated their dollar value. My sample was the Craigslist pages of the ten largest cities in the United States (New York, LA, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington D.C., Miami, Atlanta, & Boston). I created a spreadsheet to divide goods by category. I calculated a total sum of goods for sale for each city. My mind was blown.
Electronics are the most popular items for sale for Bitcoin on Craigslist at 30% of all listings. Someone looking to spend Bitcoin can find everything from a MacBook Air to a Canon GL1 digital camera. Five percent of the listings are automobiles and motorcycles (including a fully restored 1970 Plymouth Barracuda for $57,000). About 20% of the listings are for mining equipment. The majority of this equipment is SHA-256 ASIC machines, used to mine Bitcoin. The average cost of this equipment is $0.25-$0.75 per GH/s (gigahash per second). These prices are substantially higher the average cost of a GH/s cloud contract on CEX.io at $0.18 (perhaps this explains the large supply not yet sold). High-traffic domain names make up 25% of listings with the most expensive, thecloudtrade.com, being listed for $198,000. The remaining 20% of listings include everything from concert tickets to Dallas Cowboy furniture sets. In summation, the total amount of goods for sale in the 10 metro areas I surveyed was approximately $546,000 (2,367 Bitcoin). Something that I did not include, but is worth mentioning, were advertisements to buy or sell Bitcoin. In a previous article, I wrote about the growth of decentralized exchanges. By allowing users to post service ads, Craigslist acts as a decentralized intermediary for people wishing to buy and sell Bitcoin.
For the critics, the naysayers, and the pundits: look to Craigslist. It is reasonable to assume that if ten cities in the United States have greater than a half million US dollars’ worth of goods for sale in Bitcoin, the global Craigslist Bitcoin economy is much, much larger. Unconventional economies require unconventional insights.
Image credit: Calton
Just because something is availablr for purchase w bitcoin doesnt mean it will sell for bitcoin. This article is worthless without knowing what percentage of transactions listed that are available to be bought w btc actually end up doing so. Poor analysis.
Hi ed, if you have suggestions on how to gather data related to completed craigslist transactions I’d be more than happy to hear them. Perhaps you can follow up with the 1,000+ posts I surveyed and come up with a more accurate figure. 🙂
While the percentage of transactions conducted in btc would be a valuable metric; the article is informing us of the peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace in craigslist that is alive and growing.
Another platform we can see this proliferation into is in the Facebook local garage sale and similar groups.
The masses are awakening to mobile digital payments as an alternate to cash and cards.
Every eyeball that sees bitcoin as an option for payment, has that event logged into their brain. Repetition of this event has a strengthening effect on the synaptic pathways and will be recalled with greater ease as the buzzwords of 2015 make it to the mainstream.
bitcoin – usher in the progression
When I list something on Craigslist, I always show the price I’ll accept in BTC or LTC. I don’t actually type out the word “Bitcoin” in my ads.
So far, no one who has bought from me knows what Bitcoin is. I have yet to sell anything for BTC or LTC, but I don’t sell a lot of stuff.