Is Bitcoin the Digital Gold? An experimental investigation

Last registered on December 21, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Is Bitcoin the Digital Gold? An experimental investigation
Initial registration date
April 19, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
April 20, 2022, 4:58 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
December 21, 2022, 10:52 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Ottawa and University of Amsterdam

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Simon Fraser University
PI Affiliation
Washington University, St Louis, USA

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We conduct a laboratory group experiment to investigate the market behavior of participants who must trade across two different markets using two different currencies within a continuous double auction market mechanism. This setting is designed to grossly mimic the competition between traditional fiat currencies, such as the Dollar, that are issued by central banks, and so-called crypto-currencies, such as the bitcoin. We consider two dimensions along which these currencies differ from each other. First, while the quantity of, say, Dollars tends to grow over time, Bitcoin, and other so-called stable coins, are deflationary by design because their total quantity is bounded. Second, using traditional fiat currencies or crypto-currencies may entail various transaction costs, for instance in the form of various tax rates on goods and services purchased with each currency. Using an experimental design, we investigate the consequences of these two features on currency adoption for trade.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Arifovic, Jasmina, Salle Isabelle and Linda Schilling. 2022. "Is Bitcoin the Digital Gold? An experimental investigation." AEA RCT Registry. December 21.
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Experimental Details


We use a group experiment with 12 subjects in each group, 6 buyers and 6 sellers, where each subject alternates in each role. The goods markets operate through continuous double auctions. Subjects play repeatedly sequences of trade composed of an unknown number of rounds, where money may be transferred across rounds but the goods, being perishable, may not. The number of rounds in each sequence is unknown because each sequence may end with a constant and common knowledge probability. We play as many sequences as possible within a two hour time frame, including instructions.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. The quantity of trades (number of bundles of goods): do people trade more in the other currency (the Bitcoin) when the first currency (the Dollar) is inflated? do people trade more in Dollar when there exists transaction costs to purchase goods using bitcoin?
2. The relative price of each currency (namely the exchange rate): if people do not adjust the quantity of goods they trade as a response to inflation or transaction costs, this may be reflected in the price?
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The exchange rate is computed by dividing the average price of a bundle (weighted by quantities exchanged) in each currency.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Is there price stickiness?
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Do sellers rise their prices in connection to the rise in money supply? If so, is it one-to-one? or less? (hence there would be rigidity of prices)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We use a 2-by-2 design where i) there is or there is no inflation: the quantity of each currency is constant versus Currency A (aka the Dollar) is increased by 30% in each period; and ii) there are or there are no transaction costs: the content of each bundle of consumption goods purchased with each currency contains the same or decreasing amount of goods units. In the case of a decreasing amount, a certain fraction of purchases in each currency may be computed to be welfare maximizing.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The assignment to each of the four treatments is randomized across all subjects, with equal probability.
Randomization Unit
group level randomization
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
We are using 16 groups, so four for each treatment. If the number of available subjects allows for it, we would increase it to six per treatment.
Sample size: planned number of observations
192 subjects are included first, up to 288 if we can get the subjects.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
4 treatments, each has four to six groups of 12 subjects.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials