Could a token be built in ethereum that its price would be bound or pegged to lets say .00006 times the price of an once of gold?

  • you need an oracle to change the price each time the ether or gold price change – Majd TL Oct 13 '19 at 10:05

You should be aware that smart contracts on ethereum cannot interact directly with the outside world. So you will never have a token that reflect instantly the price of real world goods.

It is possible however to use oracles to keep the price reasonably updated. This can be done through a centralized authority or decentralized one.

For example DAI and USC are tokens that are pegged to 1 US dollar and DGX token is pegged to the cost of 1 gram of gold.

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Arbitrary pricing alone is insufficient to maintain a peg.

Study the world of fiat currency pegs. Numerous examples of domestic currencies with pegs to other currencies exist. You will find central bank "operations" to "support the peg" if free exchange is possible, because pricing objectives are ultimately subject to the market forces of supply and demand and expectations of future value. When confidence in the ability to support the peg in the future breaks down, the peg will break in the present because confidence breaks down.

An example of support is entering the market, as a whale, buying up large quantities of the currency to support it (reduce supply to increase price) using something else. It is very expensive and requires large reserves of other currencies with which to buy the currency to support.

In summary, nothing is "worth" what the powers that be or the token creator says it's worth. Things are worth what the market determines them to be worth. A notable exception is currencies that do not trade outside closed systems where people are forced to use them. For example, a Cuban Convertable Peso arguably isn't worth USD $1 because they don't spend and don't trade outside the country. It's more of an in-country unit of account that tourists and residents are forced to play along with. It keeps real currency out of circulation and it prevents capital from leaving the country. Sure, you can take your CCP with you when you leave, but good luck spending them.

A peg can be maintained by establishing a system of underlying value such that rational actors in the market will determine, independently, that it is worth a certain amount and likely always will be. Maker DAI uses an algorithmic approach backed by crypto assets to support the conclusion that it should work out to a dollar. A simpler approach is to make it, literally, a dollar.

For example, to peg a token at USD $1, have USD $1 in a vault somewhere, exactly 1 token in circulation and a credible redemption process that entitles the token holder to receive USD $1 unconditionally in exchange for the token (TETHER). It works the same for a billion dollars and a billion tokens. In the simplest formulation, establish a cash window that accepts dollars in exchange for mintable tokens, and accepts tokens (and destroys them) in exchange for dollars. That is known as a 100% reserve.

The same can be done for gold if one has a vault and a two-way method of delivery and exchange. The ability of the peg to hold over time is a matter of credibility of the processes and the assurances represented by the token. Do people really believe that they could trade the token for an OZ of gold, at any time, without restrictions or concerns? If they believe it, then they believe it's "as good as gold". If they don't believe it (think, counterparty risk), then the peg will break and the tokens will trade at a discount to the real thing.

The temptation to compromise a 100% reserve is considerable. Historically, 100% reserve has always yielded to compromise which reduces the hardness of the currency. It then falls on the issuer of the currency to maintain the perception that it should nevertheless still be valued at USD 1$ (also TETHER), 1 OZ or perhaps to "manage" the erosion of the peg.

It's also worth mentioning that atop physical markets, ETF's, futures markets and other financial superstructure exists. Such abstractions are possible substitutes for actual metal in the reserve. In the end, it is about the perceived value of the processes and assets that "back" the token. The gold market is, itself, subject to considerable controversy about the nature of the underlying assets and pricing mechanisms.

Hope it helps.

p.s. Much has been written about the Gold Standard and even its applicability to crypto (e.g. Gold: The once and future money, https://www.amazon.com/Gold-Future-Money-Nathan-Lewis/dp/0470047666, The Bitcoin Standard, https://www.amazon.com/Bitcoin-Standard-Decentralized-Alternative-Central/dp/1119473861). It is worthwhile to understand the history of monetary technology to avoid re-inventing things.

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