If you have not heard of the Bitcoin phenomenon by now then boy what planet are you living on please!? It almost seems that everyday the price of Bitcoin reaches a new high ($16k at time of writing) and probably well beyond that by the time you are reading this. It has caused an awful lot of hysteria and has high profile backers such as Sir Richard Branson. So evidently many are now asking the question…shall I invest in Bitcoin??? So obviously I had to write a post about this purely based on my own thoughts and entirely on my own research.
So what is Bitcoin?
Investopedia defines it as “a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of this security feature. A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its most endearing allure, is its organic nature; it is not issued by any central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.”
Hmm not sure…so how does this Bitcoin thing actually work?
To understand what Bitcoin is and how it works you must first understand what a bank is and how a bank works. Imagine your typical bank, it has a database and ledger (book or file which records all financial transactions) with lots of accounts and those accounts have balances full of all our money. So when you are rocking up to the shop with your debit card wanting to buy some expensive Gucci perfume for Christmas then what happens behind the scenes is you instruct your bank to move money from your account out of your bank into the bank of the retailer. As such your bank is a centralised system of record and you have to trust your bank to not make a mistake with their records and your money!
So Bitcoin works in pretty much the same way but there is ONE VERY KEY DIFFERENCE…with Bitcoin there is no centralised system, database or ledger containing a record of all transactions. Instead what we have is a system which is distributed around the world (like a peer to peer network) and a group of volunteers (computers) are processing transactions and effectively doing the same job as the bank! These volunteers all hold their own copy of all transactions made on the network and when a new transaction is made they all have to agree to add this transaction to their records (or block).
Once a transaction is recorded into the block then the block cannot be changed or fraudulently amended because special encrypted security algorithms (called cryptography) are applied which is why there is trust in the system. So in essence the chain is a group of all transactions called blocks and when linked together creates a data structure AKA blockchain. To find out more about Blockchain and distributed ledger technology click here.
I still don’t really understand it enough but shall I just invest anyways?
Well I don’t blame you for not understanding enough because it takes time to really understand it and requires some technical knowledge. For example only 21 million Bitcoin can ever be mined due to the digital nature of how it’s created (Learn more here).
What I will say is with any investment and especially with Bitcoin…it is important to first educate yourself, do your own research and be fully prepared that in the worse case scenario you may lose your original investment. People who have recently bought Bitcoin at $16k with no understanding but from F.O.M.O (fear of missing out) SHAME ON YOU. This is not investing. This is gambling and as mentioned in my previous investment blog…investments should be for the long term and anyone looking for a get rich quick scheme is bound to be left very disappointed. Or empty handed.
If you do decide to invest here are a few critical things you need to know:
1. Beware of extreme volatility
The demand for Bitcoin has grown steadily over the last few years especially with the media showcasing how much initial investors have made. If you bought £100 worth of coins in 2010 then you would be a millionaire now!
It is worth noting the cost of mining one Bitcoin is somewhere in the region of $800 to $1,500. Right now due to extreme speculation it’s worth is determined pretty much by what crazy amount investors are willing to pay for it.
Another sign of extreme volatility is when price reacts to public figure opinion. The cryptocurrency “is a fraud,” said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and the value fell by 20% instantly in the summer. It may only take another high profile figure to see price plummet again.
2. Keep your coins safe from hackers
When you invest traditionally in stocks and bonds, you have access to your investments via a brokerage account. If you buy Bitcoin through an exchange or an online wallet like Coinbase or Revolut, your assets are stored in a digital wallet.
There have been several incidents where Bitcoin exchanges have been hacked and peoples coins have been stolen. As they are unregulated there is no guarantee of getting your coins back. Last week $64million was stolen from NiceHash a Bitcoin mining company. Mind you customers can not even log into their accounts!
To avoid this risk it could be worth holding your coins in some kind of secure hardware that only you have access to.
3. What can you buy with Bitcoin?
Within context of all the retailers in the world there are not a lot of legitimate places that accept Bitcoin to be honest. The big players I found are Microsoft, Expedia, WordPress, Shopify and Bloomberg. Although I am sure this will increase in 2018 and beyond, myself and others see Bitcoin as a less of a currency to be spent but rather a store of value like a digital version of Gold.
If you want to buy straps, narcotics, do credit card fraud or any other criminal activity then Bitcoin is a dream come true LOL. Obviously my readers don’t do them things there! Nevertheless there are a whole host of places that accept Bitcoin on the dark web. Transactions are kept private so it is impossible to trace.
4. Regulation and Taxation
Japan has 11 regulated Bitcoin exchanges controlling over 60% of the global Bitcoin market, while China has banned the sale of crypto currencies outright. Who knows what regulation is forthcoming in 2018 but its safe to say that central governments wont sit back and let the price continue to rise without trying to assert some control into the market. Of course with so much money being pumped into it then taxation on purchases or profits may also be likely to follow.
5. Check out other cryptocurrencies
If you invested £1k in Bitcoin at $16k then to make another £1k in profit then the price would need to reach an astonishing $32k. It could very well happen but the chances of you making the same profit with another cryptocurrency such as Ethereum or Litecoin is far more likely. This is because the amount of coins you will receive for your 1k is greater and price doubling from $150 to $300 is far more probable in my opinion. Check out all some alternative coins known as altcoins.
Remember when buying cryptocurrency, you’ll need to do some serious research to determine what type to buy. There are cryptocurrencies out there that have no practical purpose or real value.
Ok so thats all folks. Hmm…I feel you still want me to answer if you should invest in Bitcoin or not!? Well the answer is its up to you! Personally I feel the price is riding high on recent hype and speculation. Any experienced investor will tell you to buy a stock when price is low and sell when the price is high. Hence I have done my research and opted for some other cryptocurrencies where the price was relatively low for a maximum risk to reward ratio. If Bitcoin price dips I might be tempted but not right now for me.
If you do decide to invest never lose sight of the difference between ‘paper profits’ and real profits. You have to sell your Bitcoin to get real money in order to realise a profit!
Hope you enjoyed the read, and don’t forget to leave a comment and share with your friends if you liked this post. Please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any specific questions.