Should You Invest in Bitcoin?
Wondering if you should invest in Bitcoin? If you’ve been around any kid of financial news lately, you’ve no doubt heard about the meteoric rise in the world’s most well-known cryptocurrency.
And if you’re like a lot of people right about now, you’re probably wondering, “Bitcoin – yes or no?”
Should you invest? Is it a good option? And what the heck is Bitcoin anyway?
Well here’s a few things you should know about Bitcoin before you invest. Also note that this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as any kind of financial advice.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is known as a cryptocurrency or a digital currency. It’s basically online money. Like any currency you can exchange it for other currencies (like say, buy bitcoins with US dollars or vice versa) and it fluctuates in relation to other currencies as well.
Unlike other currencies however it is decentralized, meaning there isn’t any one central bank, country or government in charge of it. And that means it’s not as susceptible to government or central bank mismanagement.
Pros of Bitcoin
#1 Easy To Send Money
Because it’s decentralized, this also means that you can send a friend Bitcoin (money) on the other side of the world in seconds without having to go through a bank intermediary (and pay the banking fees).
Unlike a credit card charge, Bitcoin transactions are not reversible. So if you send Bitcoin to the wrong address – you can’t get it back.
Also, there are a lot of tales from people who have lost their Bitcoin wallet address (through hacking, phones being stolen, virus-infected computers, etc.) and they’ve completely lost their coins. There’s no way to get them back.
For this reason, you really need to know what you’re doing and take the time to research how to buy and store your coins properly if you want to invest in Bitcoins – or any other cryptocurrency.
So those are some of the things to consider before investing in Bitcoin. Basically while Bitcoin has a lot of great things going for it – and while it has the potential to change financial transactions as we know it – there is still a lot of risk. There are a lot of unknowns out there still.
If you do decide to buy, take your time and research your options. Don’t buy from just any seller. Some of them are trustworthy and run a great business. But there are others that will overcharge you and may not even deliver your coins.
Be safe and do your research first. Find a trusted seller with a stellar reputation – there are quite a few of them out there. And remember the golden rule here – never invest more than you can afford to lose.
Buying Into Bitcoins
By now you have probably heard of Bitcoin, but can you define it?
Most often it is described as a non-government digital currency. Bitcoin is also sometimes called a cybercurrency or, in a nod to its encrypted origins, a cryptocurrency. Those descriptions are accurate enough, but they miss the point. It's like describing the U.S. dollar as a green piece of paper with pictures on it.
I have my own ways of describing Bitcoin. I think of it as store credit without the store. A prepaid phone without the phone. Precious metal without the metal. Legal tender for no debts, public or private, unless the party to whom it is tendered wishes to accept it. An instrument backed by the full faith and credit only of its anonymous creators, in whom I therefore place no faith, and to whom I give no credit except for ingenuity.
I wouldn't touch a bitcoin with a 10-foot USB cable. But a fair number of people already have, and quite a few more soon may.
This is partly because entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, best known for their role in the origins of Facebook, are now seeking to use their technological savvy, and money, to bring Bitcoin into the mainstream.
The Winklevosses hope to start an exchange-traded fund for bitcoins. An ETF would make Bitcoin more widely available to investors who lack the technological know-how to purchase the digital currency directly. As of April, the Winklevosses are said to have held around 1 percent of all existent bitcoins.
Created in 2009 by an anonymous cryptographer, Bitcoin operates on the premise that anything, even intangible bits of code, can have value so long as enough people decide to treat it as valuable. Bitcoins exist only as digital representations and are not pegged to any traditional currency.
According to the Bitcoin website, "Bitcoin is designed around the idea of a new form of money that uses cryptography to control its creation and transactions, rather than relying on central authorities." (1) New bitcoins are "mined" by users who solve computer algorithms to discover virtual coins. Bitcoins' purported creators have said that the ultimate supply of bitcoins will be capped at 21 million.
In their push to bring Bitcoin to the mainstream, its promoters have accepted, and, in some cases sought out, increased regulation. Last month Mt. Gox registered itself as a money services business with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. It has also increased customer verification measures. The changes came in response to a March directive from Financial Crimes Enforcement Network clarifying the application of its rules to virtual currencies. The Winklevosses' proposed ETF would bring a new level of accountability.
In the end, however, I expect that Bitcoin will fade back into the shadows of the black market. Those who want a regulated, secure currency that they can use for legitimate business transactions will pick from one of the many currencies already sponsored by a national government equipped with ample resources, a real-world economy and far more transparency and security than the Bitcoin world can offer.
After the Bitcoin bubble bursts, we won't even be able to use the leftover coins for jewelry.
1) Bitcoin, "About Bitcoin"
2) Bitcoin, "Bitcoin for Businesses"
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