Following my last article about SBD and a possible price manipulation problem on Poloniex (all speculation, obviously), I observed a certain trend in the comments. People were swinging between "there is a free market out there and everybody is free to do whatever he wants" and "the peg should be maintained / enforced".
The problem at hand is SBD, or Steem Backed Dollar. In the Steemit ecosystem, this is a "smart contract" enforced by witnesses, which make sure that 1 SBD is always equal $1 worth of STEEM (as you can read it on your wallet right now). In order to make sure that 1 SBD always stays at this price, witnesses act as oracles, by publishing price feeds, or quotes. The price is calculated as median average of those price feeds.
So, in the internal market, SBD should always be equal $1 worth of STEEM, provided that all witnesses are correct (which you may see in a very transparent way, since the price feeds are just transactions on the blockchain and everybody can look at them).
But once we take this out of the realm of Steemit, and we make it subject to supply and demand, SBD price is no longer maintained by the price feeds published by witnesses. That makes it speculative.
It is no longer governed by price feeds, but by greed and fear (like all the markets). That makes possible spikes like the one we saw during the last few couple of months. Some people are pumping SBD, simply by creating FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). And that creates a discrepancy between the price in Poloniex, for instance, and the price in internal market.
So, which is one is better? Should we have a free market in which everybody rich enough could speculate the price of SBD (which is, like I said, mostly a smart contract) or should we just stick with the witnesses acting as oracles inside the Steemit ecosystem?
My position is that we should maintain SBD as an internal store of value object and should refrain from trading it outside the internal Steemit market. The temptation might be very big, if we see it trading on exchanges at 50-60% higher than on the internal market. But keep in mind that SBD has the role of maintaining a certain level of health of the broader Steemit ecosystem and, as such, it should be somehow protected.
This position is based on the fact that Steemit is not a free market. It's a Delegated Proof of Stake market. All transactions on this ecosystem are validated by witnesses, which are freely and openly voted by all the members of the network. This is in stark contrast with Bitcoin or Ethereum, where all transactions are validated by miners, which can obviously collude in influence groups to seize control of the market (which, if you are following the segwit / bitmain discussions, it is already happening).
I personally think the DPoS system is a much better governance model than PoW. It gives more people access to value and it can be corrected and amended much faster (Steemit had 19 hardforks without any side chain so far).
By delegating your stake in the network to witnesses (a.k.a. voting for witnesses), you can ensure that the entire ecosystem works as advised.
In this case, you can make sure that a SBD will always be $1 worth of STEEM. In a world in which Steemit's DPoS governance model will be more widely supported, this will obviously make SBD as a very attractive store of value tool, protecting you against STEEM variations.
The only reason that some people are not realizing this is, in my opinion, lack of education and a bit of greed. I bet that less than 50% of the people trading SBD on external exchanges right now have any idea about how and why SBD works. If there is a slight difference between the price of the internal market and exchanges, it's clear that, in the very short term, you can make some profit off of your SBDs. But once you understand the inner working of Steemit, there's no advantage, medium and long term, in trading SBD at a higher price than $1 in an external exchange.
But there is a medium and long term pressure on the Steem price if you do.
I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.
If you're new to Steemit, you may find these articles relevant (that's also part of my witness activity to support new members of the platform):