Puca Pals: The Velocity of Money – Week 29 and 30
Puca Pals is a monthly/bi-weekly article I write to chronicle my adventures on Puca Trade, the online trading system where Magic Players around the world trade with each other. In the articles, I will be discussing what cards I’ve traded away, the total amount of shipping I’ve paid, the total profit I’ve made after shipping costs, and what cards I’ve received in return. If you have any questions regarding the website feel free to ask. If you want to make your own account there, click on this unique invite link of mine and get started!
Week 29 and 30: September 6th – September 20th
- All is Dust (GP Promo)
- Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
- Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
- Diabolic Revelation
- Cyclonic Rift
- Urza’s Incubator
- Rise of the Dark Realms (FOIL)
- Mirran Crusader (Promo) x2
- Obsidian Fireheart
- Chromatic Lantern
- Coat of Arms (7th ed)
- Gideon, Champoin of Justice x3
- The Chain Veil
- Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
- Angel of Serenity
- Sliver Hivelord
- Abbot of Keral Keep x2
September last year was overall slow, especially since it was around the time that Battle for Zendikar was released (meaning all of the focus was on standard). I sent 16 cards in week 29, and a lowly 5 cards during week 30. My work schedule was another contributing factor to the low amount of outgoing cards during this time, but I would also say I simply had too many points in my account at this time and didn’t want to keep filling up my coffers when I had nothing to spend them on. At some point you find yourself not wanting to send cards out anymore and that’s actually what I’m going to talk about later in this article.
Initial Costs and Total Shipping
There weren’t any insanely good deals during this period, but I did manage to double or triple up on a lot of nickel and dime cards that got me a decent profit margin. Vorinclex was only 500 to pick up, Ob Nixilis was 180 yen, and the Japanese Rise of the Dark Realms foil was only 500 yen as well. At this point I was running low on the stack of Chromatic Lanterns that I had picked up at 50 yen each, and the Abbot of Keral Keeps had initially been 130 yen when I bought them but I managed to get rid of them near their peak so it was a pretty good profit.
I had 9 regular shipments of 110 yen each, one for 130 to South America, and another to South East Asia for 90 yen. This means that shipping cost me a total of 1,210 yen, which is pretty low but not that great considering how much I sent out during this time. That comes out to about a cost of 57 yen per card, or 110 yen per envelope which is pretty standard. That price is higher than the previous 2 weeks’ cost but I didn’t really care. I couldn’t stand not sending anything out back then. I was simply happy to get rid of more bulk and stuff that was sitting in my trade binder.
Profit and How Long it Took to Ship Cards
I ended up getting a 1200 point profit on Vorinclex, and I made a 1000 point profit on the Rise of the Dark Realms foil at that time, but everything else was rather unexciting. A few cards gave me a 300-400 point profit, and I was lucky to dodge the bullet on Urza’s Incubator by getting rid of it before the reprint for a 700 point profit, but there wasn’t much else to really talk about. Abbot of Keral Keep had reached around 900 points during this period so I got 700+ points profit on the two I sent out and I can’t complain about that.
Week 29’s profit was 7581 points on 16 cards, which was pretty good when you average it out to 474. It beats both weeks 27 and 28 and is rather respectable against a large portion of previous weekly averages. Week 30 had a dismal 5 cards sent out but I made 2399 points on those 5 cards, which means I got an even better per card profit of 480 points during this period. I’ll take quality over quantity any day as it means I can send out fewer cards and do less work in the long run.
What’s even better to look at is the profit margin. I might have only made 9980 points in total profit during these two weeks in September, but the 1210 yen I paid to ship the cards out only ate into 12% of my total profits which was 9% less than what I ended up paying in the previous month. Getting back to around 10% shipping costs on my cards has been my goal for a while, so this is very promising. Aside from a shipment to Brazil that took 36 days (holy crap), the rest of my cards only took 7-8 days.
What I Received
It doesn’t get any sweeter than this. It’s incredibly rare to get packages like this these days, but back in September of last year I got my hand on two more Tarmogoyfs, fresh of Korea. After getting another pair a few days earlier that ended up being fakes, I was ecstatic to get these. Of course I had them checked out at stores around town to verify their authenticity, and when they said they were real I almost decided to stop and get out of Puca Trade right then and there. This was a mic drop moment.
It wasn’t 2 Goyfs, but it was still a good haul. I managed to get some stuff for a few of my sideboards in modern, as well as a Lilliana to use in standard. The Mindcensor was the start of a GW Hatebears deck I wanted to build for Modern.
During this time I also got a few more shipments for my Tempest block cube and it really started coming together. Of course it’s finished now, but back then I would say I was close to 90% done and only needed a few more cards to complete it.
Velocity of Money
Even before the roll out of the new Puca Trade website, I had been trying to wrap my head around why trades between people have slowed down dramatically over the past few months. One reason is probably the value or a puca point when compared to a dollar. On average, many people have said that 100 puca points is actually only worth about $0.70, or about 70% of what your total points are. If you’re buying a card at $5 to trade for 1000 points, in reality you’re only getting a $2 profit on it as those points are only worth $7. To combat this, Puca Trade recently instituted an insurance system of sorts to reduce points from the inflated economy. While this a good idea, it will probably take a long time to feel its effects as the Puca Point economy corrects itself slowly. The problem we have now is a severe lack of money velocity.
The extent of my economics background was in a Micro and Macro economics course in college, but I think I have a solid understanding about how things like inflation and economies work. I first learned about this idea of money velocity on an interview I saw online with Asher Edelman, who was the inspiration for the character Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street. The basic idea of Velocity of Money is that the more money you have exchanging hands the healthier an economy becomes. When no money is circulating, your economy stagnates. When an economy stagnates, people tend to lose faith in the governing body that controls the money.
The current problem of Puca Trade isn’t that there aren’t enough points to go around, that there aren’t enough wants, or that people simply don’t have cards to send, but that people no longer see a reason for trading their cards to fill up their balance on Puca Trade. The Puca Trade system is sound. Trade cards to get points, then use those point to get cards sent to you. What happened is that people were all sending cards and got all these points, and suddenly the cards ceased to flow as liquid as they did before. Without points flowing out of their account, there was no need to send more cards. This became an systemic problem and has caused a large part of the Puca Trade economy to come to a stand still.
Without people sending cards in high volumes, less points are being removed from the Puca Trade economy which makes the trade insurance idea less effective than it would have been if it had been instituted months ago. We also now have to take into account the new website. I like how the new website looks, but it’s functionality has decreased exponentially. With an image heavy search engine, looking for cards and loading all the cards people want on your SEND CARDS page is excruciating. The dark background makes it hard to see, and the amount of times the website stops loading on older computers like my own is frustrating to say the least.
If Puca Trade is serious about jump starting their economy again, they need to consider how to get the points flowing and how to increase the velocity of money. For starters, there needs to be a true text based option that is similar to the previous website where you can load it quickly and jump on trades that pop up. When you make it harder to send cards, your destroying your economy.
Another thing I’d like to see Puca Trade institute is an auction option. It’s already a seller’s market on Puca Trade as there are far more people that WANT cards than there are people that SEND them. If you have a high priced card like a dual land or a rare foil, why should you send it to one person more than the other if the prices is the same to either one? This has always been one of my conundrums as a holder of cards such as Gaea’s Cradle or Rishidan Port. Why not let the buyers bid on these cards with their extra points instead of putting the pressure on the sender to choose whom to send it to? Make it available to all Gold and Silver members, and let people bid on a card somebody wants to get rid of for a day.
This solves multiple problems. The seller gets extra points from the card equal to what they value it at, and the buyers get a card they want while also taking extra points out of the Puca Trade economy. I see this as a win win situation. As people bid on more cards and use up their points, they have to send more out in order to replenish their account. This circulates the points much faster than they are currently.
You could still have people sending and receiving cards traditionally through the original Puca system, but for those people who feel like their card is being undervalued or believe that it’s popular enough to warrant some extra points, this gives them some incentive to get rid of their cards. It also helps Puca Trade sign up more people at Gold and Silver, which in turn helps the website’s bottom line and improves services for users in the long run.
Perhaps an idea has already been brought up on their website and tried out in beta, but as I see it hasn’t been implemented yet I’d like the idea to be entertained. I think it would go a long way of fixing the problems that have plagued the website and kept people from letting the idea reach its full potential.