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If you've been following the news over the past couple weeks, it's been impossible to miss some of the goings on with Bitcoin. A number of high-profile arrests have been made of people at least tangentially related to the crypto-currency, a successful hack looted millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins, and one of the largest Bitcoin exhanges is teetering on the brink of destruction, sending Bitcoin into a freefall on that exchange while its price remains stable on all the others. In the world of Bitcoin, there's never a dull moment.

So why on Earth would you ever get involved?

Because you really can't afford not to. Seriously. Just on the off chance that Bitcoin changes the world in much the same way the Internet did, do you really want to look back and say to yourself, "Man, if I had only seen that coming." Of course, Bitcoin could be gone tomorrow. To be sure, many people in high places would love nothing more. And if volatility ain't your thing, Bitcoin can give you heart palpitations. But I'm forced to agree with the Wall Street Journal: Bitcoin is at a turning point and I just don't think you can afford to miss it.

What most people are only now beginning to understand is that Bitcoin is about more than just money:

Supporters like Mr. Malka view bitcoin as more than just a currency used to store value. For them, bitcoin is an open financial platform that could house scores of types of data in a secure and universal ledger. From payments for road tolls to proof of ownership for cars and houses, bitcoin could be an independent, secure and reliable host of financial and personal information.

"It's not a technology experiment, it is an experimental society," Mr. Malka says.

Bitcoin acceptance is on the rise, despite all the recent setbacks to its infrastructure. Seattle and Austin are rolling out the first Bitcoin ATM machines in the country this month. Security issues are being patched by the hour. The network is getting larger and larger, and smarter and smarter.

Might it all amount to nothing? Absolutely. But I've invested in alternate currencies before and had them go to zero, so I'm not about to stop now. The cause is just too important: the decentralization and democratization of money. For me it's not just about being on the ground floor of a disruptive technology that can change the future of mankind (although that's a huge part of it), it's also about a giant middle finger pointed squarely at those who would control others. I guess you could say it appeals to the anarchist in me.

Don't bet the ranch on it, obviously (at least not yet), but if you have a diversified portfolio it's probably time to take a hard look at it. But do your research! There is a right way and a wrong way to "do" Bitcoin (just ask the poor bastards trapped at Mt. Gox right now). I've had a couple of close calls myself (ahem, Instawallet), but I've been fortunate so far.

That's just my two Satoshis. I'm interested to hear what you guys think and I'm willing to answer any questions you might have to the best of my ability.

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Comments (74)

  • RealMittRomney's picture

    agree this could be an interesting / fun investment (akin to gambling) but whats the best way to get involved? Buying the actually currency seems a little too expensive for my taste

  • In reply to RealMittRomney
    TopChedder's picture

    RealMittRomney:

    agree this could be an interesting / fun investment (akin to gambling) but whats the best way to get involved? Buying the actually currency seems a little too expensive for my taste

    Bitcoin derivatives?

    "Let me give you some legal advice - shut the f*** up!"

  • UFOinsider's picture

    "In reality, Bitcoiners are not central bankers but high-risk commodity traders. To suggest they can do the equivalent work of dedicated and experienced central bankers is farcical. Bitcoin has used a grossly oversimplified fixed-supply formula in an attempt to address panoply of complex, interconnected and ever changing economic variables."

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/bitcoin-sovereign-attack-2014-2?op=1#ixzz2tgPOn04Q

    ....I'm still going to buy a few on the next big price dip given the same reason as you: why not? I don't see them having a shot at being the next big anything, but there's a buck to be made. I do wish there was some way to address the massive hypocrisy of the current global system (ie, I pay taxes but a company can move its 'HQ' to a non tax jurisdiction). If the bitcoiners are serious about the 'social experiment', then they admit that the answer is political and the technology will be called into play after an upgraded, global, enforceable social contract is drafted. Maybe the bitcoin or something like it will help shape that debate, it's more than likely. Until then, I'm perfectly comfortable keeping certain parts of my income off the grid and ripping off multinational companies of whatever I can comfortably get away with.

    If the current agenda is to create a paradigm that encourages to take what you can and give nothing back, they're doing a good job.

    Get busy living

  • Going Concern's picture

    I hate to sound dense, but why is a "decentralized currency" an important cause? I haven't yet watched that two hour video you posted before, but it seems to me like it brings more peace of mind and safety to have something like a currency centrally regulated and monitored and your money in the hands of large entities that have federal backing. The thing that gives me comfort with having money digitally stored is the large amount of protection behind it.

    "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."

    "Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent."

  • heister's picture

    I would argue that even at a million dollars a bitcoin the currency is relatively cheap. The fact that it can be broken into something like a hundred million pieces means it can realistically supply all of the worlds current currency needs.

    Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

    Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

  • In reply to Going Concern
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Because it removes the power from the few and puts it in the hands of the many. For me it's all baby steps toward a future with no government, just democracy, and I believe that's a cause worth being a part of. I'm not naive enough to think I'll live long enough to see it myself, but I'm content to know that I do my part to make all men more equal and bring the mighty low. Kind of a crusade, I guess.

  • yeahright's picture

    Bought and owned it for a while, then realized how stupid it was, then sold it for a measly profit.

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • crossfit55's picture

    I am very on the edge when it comes to owning bitcoins, and fear they are way too exposed to regulation. Bitcoins were either designed for illegal purposes (e.g., drugs, firearms, hit men, etc.) or a natural by-product of an anonymous digital payment system. To me, that means either a Government can either legalize everything and tax it, or continue to allow it to happen on a black market.

    Aside from this, a global currency with no central bank could lead to economic issues as monetary policy is removed (think Europe; some idiosyncratic issues that cannot be addressed through monetary policy due to the monetary union [cough, cough, Greece]).

    Lastly, it is hard for me to believe we have designed the payment system of the future today. With hacker attacks becoming a serious issue, everyone runs the risk of losing their wealth from hackers. When there is an economic gain from hacking, the brightest minds will compete and theft appears inevitable.

    Although my opinion is directly at the negatives I still feel bitcoins are something unique and spectacular, and definitely a step in the right direction for financial innovation. I have been fascinated by bitcoins for quite some time now and have many friends that own/mine bitcoins too. With the assumption that governments and central banks are studying crypto-currencies heavily, I fear the risks outweigh the rewards unless you can afford throwing away a few thousand dollars, if that's the case then get some skin in the game and enjoy the bumpy ride.

    Buy fear, sell cheer

  • In reply to crossfit55
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    crossfit55:

    Lastly, it is hard for me to believe we have designed the payment system of the future today. With hacker attacks becoming a serious issue, everyone runs the risk of losing their wealth from hackers. When there is an economic gain from hacking, the brightest minds will compete and theft appears inevitable.

    I suppose this is true of any store of value, but one way I think Bitcoin may be better adapted to meet the challenge is in its simplicity. Everything is open source, and the network is run by the nerdiest of nerds who have a hell of a lot more to lose than the hackers have to gain. My money's on the good guys in this one. There's no doubt that a few of the early battles have been lost to the hackers, but I have no doubt that the network will win the war.

  • Grayson's picture

    I'm still only on the fringe of fully understanding bitcoins, and maybe making a small investment would be the best motivation to really dig in to cryptocurrency. The decentralization is attractive to a lot of people. I like some of the practical benefits even more.

    Here is an article form Tyler Cowen's blog that explains how using bitcoins could allow you make payments with more "free-market" transaction costs, including zero transaction costs.

    "He chose money over power, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mcmansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference."

  • wannabeaballer's picture

    Lots of pros and cons with BTC. Here's why I think it has a future: Send $1000 to Moscow in 20 minutes or less with zero transaction fees and relative anonymity. Now send $100,000 or $1,000,000. The process is the same.

    How else would you perform such a transaction?

  • animalz's picture

    my question is, how much did you lose already on bitcoins?

  • UFOinsider's picture

    Ok, I've run out of structural arguments, so I'll just address the psychology of so call alternate currencies.

    Bitcoin doesn't free you from the tyranny of governance, it frees tyrants completely of governance. Instead of a system run explicitly for the benefit of the economy, it puts you directly under the control of the handful of people who control most of the bitcoins. Look at Italy: the gov't and banking centers (courtesy of Bulosconi and his mafia friends) are failing on a massive scale. People aren't becoming freer, they're being raped by the mafia to the extent that entire provinces are totally controlled by the Ndrangheta and Commora. Gov't can suck, but you can actually participate in it. If people spent more time working to make it better instead of living in denial, we'd all be better off. Good luck appealing to your local warlord, ER mafia boss, for anything remotely resembling fair or in the best interest anyone but themselves.

    90% of bitcoins are hoarded, and the people doing the hoarding only do so to drive up the price so they can sell them at a profit in exchange for dollars that actually buy something. That's not democracy. That's not capitalism. That's seriously deficient marketing for pure kleptocratic plutocracy. These people produce absolutely nothing of value and expect to become fabulously rich. They're crooks. Think for a moment why anyone would be so cynical to encourage others into a market they/ve cornered. Then realize that the bitcoin network was basically built like that. It's a huge scam that takes advantage of naive people, benefits a literal handful of crooks, and is glorified by the ranks of politically ignorant because they don't want to pay taxes.

    We already have digital currency. Check your bank account online. When gov'ts decide to kill alternate currencies, they will close the exchanges, disallow transfers, round up the organizers, and crucify them.....oh wait, they're already started. It's a pity the gov't is dominated by old farts who are too stupid to motivate these bright young programmers into beefing up America's network security, reach, and utility. There's a massive amount of work to be done, I can't understand why they're not doling out fortunes to the best and brightest. Maybe we're just not making it enough of an issue.

    Instead of "End the FED", people would do better to "pester the FED and their politicians, strike, take to the streets, hmmmm maybe stop voting for idiots, and perform their civil duty, prosecute the shit out of crooked politicians and kill them if need be". Showing up once every 4 years to cast a vote is the equivalent of going to church on Easter and calling yourself a Catholic. ....you don't have to be there every day, but there's a bit more to it. Neglecting your rights and responsibilities and then cynically spending the rest of the time whining about the system and selling scams on the oppressed and greedy under the guise of opportunity is a recipe for disaster. I'd like to think people would know better by this point.

    There's no nice way to say this. That's how it is. Buy in for the next round of speculative bets but short the shit out alternate currencies as an asset class. They're toast and they know it....they just want you to be left holding the hot potato.

    Get busy living

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    Going Concern's picture

    Good post, this is pretty much what I wanted to say.

    "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."

    "Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent."

  • CaR's picture

    As someone who is perfectly content using a centralized currency, I still fail to see how investing in BTC is any different than putting it on red at the MGM

  • UFOinsider's picture

    I think the technology is cool too, and I sympathize with the desire to be free from gov't intrusion...seriously I agree with and admire those two things. This just isn't the way to do it. It's counterproductive.

    Sorry for long rant, but someone had to say it.

    .....either that or I'm a short player in the BTC market and I'm trying to drive the price down ^_^

    Get busy living

  • luccabananas's picture

    How would one go about investing in or owning Bitcoins? Last I read, you needed several computers to run complex mathematical algorithms and even then that only netted you fractions of Bitcoins.

  • T-101's picture

    In dogecoin for $10, valued now at $210, wow much gains, to the moon! But seriously I got into mining dogecoin very early on and have seen them quickly gain value. It seems to have plateaued for the moment but it has been an interesting ride anyways. Plus I learned some things when I set up to mine them myself.

  • heister's picture

    For fucks sake, I can't believe how many of you have a world view that extends 2 steps in front of you. BTC will change the world. Will it be this version of BTC no one knows. However the great American green back was one of many currencies that existed or derived from currencies that existed before the country united to expel the British. Go learn about history and how government controlled currencies have collapsed many countries and empires over the course of recorded human history.

    Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

    Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

  • euroazn's picture

    Ugh. Bitcoin is an interesting idea but it can't hold any fundamental value. I can make arbitrarily many different currency standards (Coinye, Dogecoin) and thus supply is unbounded. When you have currency that is not backed by assets it /must/ be backed by something with debt-based credibility. When looked at with any granularity, this fad is dumber than tulips.

  • In reply to euroazn
    heister's picture

    Not true, the dollar has value based on perception, you can't change in your dollars for partial ownership of government property. The US dollar is backed by "the full faith and credit of the United States of America" aka it's not backed by anything other than a military force. I don't expect a bunch of bankers and want to be bankers to understand that the system they lord over is as about as stable as a bridge made out of uncooked pasta. The reality is that nothing is forever, nothing is unreachable, nothing is structured and ordered as you believe it is.

    Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

    Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

  • In reply to euroazn
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    euroazn:

    I can make arbitrarily many different currency standards (Coinye, Dogecoin) and thus supply is unbounded.

    This is baked into the Bitcoin model and is expected to become the basis of state-sponsored crypto-currencies (i.e. Canada-coin, California-coin, Manhattan-coin, etc...). Contrary to being detrimental to Bitcoin, the proliferation of competing digital currencies brings strength and legitimacy to the broader market.

  • Going Concern's picture

    The US dollar is equivalent in stability to uncooked pasta? I suppose a free floating virtual currency that can be easily hacked and privately manipulated and is literally backed by nothing is an improvement. Very interesting, tell us more.

    "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."

    "Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent."

  • In reply to heister
    euroazn's picture

    The US Dollar is backed by the credibility of the Fed. If the country's central bank is credibly, the currency has purchasing power (e.g US). If not, it's worthless shit (e.g Zimbabwe)

  • In reply to euroazn
    Going Concern's picture

    euroazn:

    Give me one economic-based argument that supports what you just said. One of the basic requirements of currency is scarcity, otherwise it cannot be a store and/or measure of value.

    Apparently there is some algorithm that makes it so there will never be more than 21 million bitcoins in supply...why I should have any faith or trust in some random algorithm and some arbitrary number is still a big mystery to simple minded folks such as myself.

    "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."

    "Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent."

  • In reply to euroazn
    heister's picture

    You are deluding yourself if you think the Fed is what gives the US dollar cred. Its the US Army and it has been since we left the gold standard.

    Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

    Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

  • In reply to Going Concern
    euroazn's picture

    Right, but as I said - the number of alternate crypto currencies is infinite, and there's no body to assign preference of one currency over another - so effectively, the supply of /cryptocurrency/ is infinite.

  • In reply to euroazn
    Grayson's picture

    @"euroazn" Sorry, I don't think argument of infinite supply works. If you turn it around and say there are an infinite supply of fiat currencies (any country can start there own), and since there is no world currency governing body to assign preference ( if you choose "free market" then I would argue the same would apply to cryptocurrency) how is it any different. The way bitcoin is designed there are only a limited number certificates.

    "He chose money over power, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mcmansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference."

  • In reply to Grayson
    euroazn's picture

    My point is that those are all intrinsically different since they have different government bodies supporting them. Additionally, there's enough friction that you can't use them interchangeably.

    On the other hand, cryptos are more like the state/private bank issued currency that the US had way back in the day - that currency was horribly ineffective, and this would amplify the problem even further because of the ease of creating new crypto currency.

  • In reply to heister
    CaR's picture

    heister:

    You are deluding yourself if you think the Fed is what gives the US dollar cred. Its the US Army and it has been since we left the gold standard.

    I have no problem with bitcoins - not even saying I won't get involved at some point or another. It's a cool concept and I find myself becoming more intrigued the more I read about it.

    But seriously - can you pump the fucking breaks with these grandiose, extravagant reasons for doing so? The US dollar, which denominates the majority of globally traded commodities (see: crude oil), is like uncooked pasta...? A gang of people you've never met or seen writing scripts and mining BTC on virtual exchanges is a better currency safeguard than the Fed (or as you seem to think, military)...? What in the hell are you even talking about? In my opinion, the ridiculous explanations I constantly see for this are a bigger red flag than the fundamentals themselves (none). Nothing wrong with admitting you're making a bet.

  • In reply to euroazn
    Grayson's picture

    See, you haven't proven that point to me yet. If the delineating factor of an acceptable currency is government backing, how do you feel about using a gold standard? It's back by physical material, but price and supply are not controlled?

    You mentioned early private currencies issued by banks and states. I definitely see bitcoins falling into this early stage of development. Acceptance comes in stages though. US currency after the National Banking Act was successful because it was supported by bullion. I doubt a pure fiat currency would have survived at that point time.

    A currency derives it's value by how much people are willing to believe it has value, and I think a digital currency is going to become more valuable to people as the years go on. Ease, speed, and privacy are becoming more important and cryptocurrencies are coming forward as alternatives to a system that doesn't adjust well to the digital age.

    "He chose money over power, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mcmansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference."

  • RealMeal's picture

    The Winklevoss twins gave them a potential market valution of $40,000 per coin. I've been wanting to buy into BTC for a while. I think it will dip a little bit more before I buy in tho. Gotta keep up with the news

  • In reply to CaR
    Going Concern's picture

    CaR:

    But seriously - can you pump the fucking breaks with these grandiose, extravagant reasons for doing so? The US dollar, which denominates the majority of globally traded commodities (see: crude oil), is like uncooked pasta...? A gang of people you've never met or seen writing scripts and mining BTC on virtual exchanges is a better currency safeguard than the Fed (or as you seem to think, military)...? What in the hell are you even talking about?

    Lol, I find myself asking that for a lot of his posts

    "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."

    "Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent."

  • In reply to Grayson
    euroazn's picture

    Of course a currency backed by a physical commodity is different and requires no government backing per se, but I didn't want to compare apples to oranges. We are only comparing fiat moneys here.

    "A currency derives it's value by how much people are willing to believe it has value" - now THIS is a dangerous misconception. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

  • In reply to euroazn
    Grayson's picture

    Dangerous? Yes. Misconception? I don't think so - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation_in_Zimbabwe

    "He chose money over power, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mcmansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference."

  • WhiteHat's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    I've invested in alternate currencies before and had them go to zero, so I'm not about to stop now

    This is the mentality for stuff like this, it's like VC. Buying for fear of missing out doesn't make a lot of sense to me because literally everything in theory could be the next big thing for you to miss out on, and you'd end up having to buy everything... which actually happens in start-up la la land. My opinion on bitcoin is that it's a fad with no competitive advantage as a currency relative to anything else, but my opinion doesn't matter and the same can be said of the dollar... except for that pesky enormous government standing behind it (which by the way can and will easily crush things like bitcoin before they get big enough, whether or not we love them to death). I just think this is a little bit of crazy talk that actually exemplifies the bubble-nature of the whole thing pretty well. As much as I'm anti-government and would love everything to be decentralized, it's just not practically going to happen.

  • heister's picture

    Look at recent military action by the US and the EU. We go and bomb the shit out of states that try and move off of the US dollar backed world trade platform and try to move to gold or another medium that isn't controlled by the US. Like it or not, the US dollar has no backing outside of the fact that we can send our warships and planes and bomb the little kids back to the stone age. People act like the world currencies are stable platforms the fact that a group of people can sit in a closed board room and dictate if the currency will rise or fall in value based on what they say to a panel of idiots that don't know anything about theoretical economics. Yea, I'll put my faith in the people to get it right more so than a few people in a room.

    Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

    Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

  • In reply to heister
    CaR's picture

    heister:

    Look at recent military action by the US and the EU. We go and bomb the shit out of states that try and move off of the US dollar backed world trade platform and try to move to gold or another medium that isn't controlled by the US. Like it or not, the US dollar has no backing outside of the fact that we can send our warships and planes and bomb the little kids back to the stone age. People act like the world currencies are stable platforms the fact that a group of people can sit in a closed board room and dictate if the currency will rise or fall in value based on what they say to a panel of idiots that don't know anything about theoretical economics. Yea, I'll put my faith in the people to get it right more so than a few people in a room.

    Sounds good, I'll have to remember this pitch for my next interview

  • Grayson's picture

    And if you guys really want to start gambling with bitcoins, there is always this place.

    "He chose money over power, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mcmansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference."

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    krauser's picture

    UFOinsider:
    These people produce absolutely nothing of value and expect to become fabulously rich. They're crooks.

    As opposed to the the paragons of virtue in wall street and washington. *cough* Bailouts *cough*

  • NorthSider's picture

    I'm neither hardline for or against Bitcoin. The main benefit of Bitcoin, as far as I can tell, is that the currency supply isn't subject to manipulation by a central bank. Which is great, but, I mean, Milton Friedman pretty much advocated exactly that decades ago. In fact, he suggested in 2006 that we run the fed with a computer that automatically expands the money supply at a constant rate every year. Much simpler than a crypto-currency network. Seems silly that such a revolution should have to take place from the bottom up, but I suppose it's merely a reflection of why government comparatively terrible at supplying the desires of the population versus the market.

    "For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

  • BreakingRich's picture

    I had been thinking about it for a while and set up a profile thing on Mt. Gox. The other day, I got 3 SEPERATE e-mails, saying my account had been logged into all using different IP addresses. None of which were done by me. That kind of killed it for me, what if someone gets my account info like has been happening? Would hate to lose out in that sense. Would you file for fraud?

    ...

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