Yes, Bitcoin is a Ponzi
A Re-Rebuttal

Jorge Stolfi

A recent article [1] by a bitcoin advocate claims to refute the thesis that bitcoin is a ponzi. Presumably that "Article A" is the written appendix to a recent podcast of a debate between the author and myself [2].

This text is a point-by-point re-rebuttal to Article A, specifically. The reader may consider reading my own write-up, Bitcoin is a Ponzi ("Article S") [3], which is a better organized explanation of that thesis.


In summary, Article A fails to refute the thesis that investing in bitcoin is a ponzi. In particular, it fails to address the main point of that claim: that bitcoin's money flow is exactly the same as that of a ponzi scheme, as depicted below:

BTC money flow diagram

The arrow in that diagram represents the net one-way flow of money from investors to miners. The net total flow since 2009 is already 15 billion USD. If the the current BTC price holds, that amount will grow by about 30 million USD/day, or at least another 10 billion USD in the next year. Besides the investors, there isn't (and there will never be) any source of money that could return that money to them.

Even if bitcoin promoters refuse to accept the label "ponzi", they cannot deny that diagram. How can anyone propose such a bottomless barrel as a "store of value" is beyond me.

Actually, a rebuttal of the "ponzi" thesis comprises only a part of Article A. A good part of its is devoted to implicit promotion bitcoin investment, with the same misleading and fallacious arguments that bitcoin promoters have been using for a decade. In particular, Article A insists that the flavor of bitcoin that is managed by the "Core" development team (BTC) is the only sound cryptocurrency -- a thesis known as "Bitcoin Maximalism".

Article A also spends a good many words to explain that bitcoin is absolutely, completely, totally different from Ripple's coin (XRP), that has now been accused by the SEC of being an illegal security.

Re-Rebuttal to "Not a Ponzi"

This section addresses the points of Article A that are directly relevant to the "ponzi" thesis.

The SEC and IRS definitions

On Bitcoin's Origins

On Bitcoin's Management

On Bitcoin's Market and Price

On Bitcoin as a Commodity, or "Gold 2.0"

On Bitcoin vs "Fiat Banking System"

Other considerations

This section addresses other claims of Article A that, while not relevant to the "Ponzi" thesis, require correction.

On the Bitcoin System

On Satoshi

On Bitcoin's Management

On Bitcoin's Market and Price

On Fiat and Banks

On Gold and Other Investments


Bitcoin is a ponzi.


[1] Lyn Alden (2021): "Why Bitcoin is Not a Ponzi Scheme: Point by Point". Posted on 2021-01-11 at, accessed on 2021-01-17.

[2] Lyn Alden and Jorge Stolfi (2021): "Motion: Bitcoin is a scam". Debate in Richard Yan's Blockchain Debate Podcast, episode 21, posted on 2021-01-01, accessed on 2021-01-17.

[2] Jorge Stolfi (2020): "Bitcoin is a ponzi". Web article first published on 2021-01-02, accessed on 2021-01-17.

[4] Nicholas Weaver (2018): "Risks of Cryptocurrencies ". Communications of the ACM, volume 61, issue 6, pages 20-24.

[5] Luke Parker, Aditya Das (2020): "43 bitcoin exchanges that are no longer with us". Web article at Brave New Coin, dated 2020-08-18, accessed on 2021-01-17.

[6] Various (2021): "Monnaie de pierre". ("Stone money", i.e. Yapese rai stones) Article of the French Wikipedia, accessed on 2021-01-17.

[7] (2021): "Estimated Transaction Value (USD)". Active chart page, accessed on 2021-01-19.

[8] Bitinfo (2021) "Bitcoin Rich List". Active statistics page, accessed on 2021-01-19.

[9] Macrotrends (2021) "Gold Prices - 100 Year Historical Chart". Active statistics page, accessed on 2021-01-20.

Last edited on 2021-01-20 13:08:31 by jstolfi