The irony is delicious. Bitcoin, biggest of the crypto-currencies, was heralded as a technology that would set us free from the sclerotic institutions of a fetid financial system: central banks, commercial bank oligopolies, bought-and-paid-for regulators. What has happened instead? As an alternative medium of exchange, bitcoin has gone essentially nowhere. It has thrived only as a speculative asset — and, in that capacity, trading in bitcoin is being pulled slowly into the very edifice it was meant to pull down. It started in December, when two big exchanges, the CME Group and the Cboe Global Markets, launched bitcoin futures trading operations. This week, the assimilation continued: Goldman Sachs, most prestigious of the major Wall Street banks, announced it would start a futures trading operation and is looking into the direct trading of bitcoin. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), part of the Intercontinental Exchange, is reportedly setting up an online platform for buying and ho...

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