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Investing in Cryptocurrencies: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

I remember the first time I was able to use my debit card in a drive-through. It was about 20 years ago, and I was getting lunch at Wendy’s when the cashier asked: “Cash or credit?”

At the time, it was almost unheard of to use a debit card in regular places. But now, paying in cash is almost unusual.

Consumer Credit conducted a survey to see whether respondents used cash or cards. And 80% of the respondents said that they used cards.

We’re moving increasingly toward being a cashless society. When I looked into my wallet this morning, I had $2 and some change. That’s not even enough to get a coffee.

But I also have my Visa card, which means that I don’t need cash at all.

The last time I got cash out? I think it was about three months ago when I was buying Girl Scout cookies.

The last time I used my Visa? Yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that…

With distrust of central banks and governments at all-time highs, people are looking toward less regulated forms of money. For some, this means an open-source, unregulated electronic currency like Bitcoin.

Bitcoin to the Rescue

bitcoin eac

If you’d invested $100 in Bitcoin seven years ago, you’d have $75 million today. Some analysts are saying that it will hit $10,000 or even $100,000 per bitcoin.

There are many places that are in on the Bitcoin fervor, from Asian countries like India, Japan, and China, to Australia and the U.S.

Bitcoin.com writes:

The Indian government suddenly withdrew the country’s 500 and 1000 rupee bills from circulation. Now, bitcoin is experiencing a knee-jerk reaction among citizens concerned about their financial integrity.

But it’s not only India that’s heading toward a cashless society…

Bitcoin.com also writes:

Meanwhile, further war-on-cash-style noises have come from Australia, a country now toying with the concept of eliminating cash altogether within just eight years… At the same time, Citibank announced that it would go ‘cashless’ at some of its Australian branches.

And in February 2017, Cointelegraph writes:

The resilience of the Chinese market and the development of the Japanese Bitcoin exchange market… has transformed into a global powerhouse over the past few months.

Just a few months ago, Japan overtook both the U.S. and Chinese Bitcoin markets and also became the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world.

Bitcoin is currently sitting at $3,392.

That’s more than double the price of gold.

People used to count on gold as a safe haven investment. But now, with Bitcoin valued so much higher, many are turning to the cryptocurrency instead.

Bitcoin has had a spectacular year. When it hit $1,580 on May 1, 2017, it traded at record highs. It’s more than doubled since then.

A chart of its movement over the past year will show you just how much it’s moved:

bitcoin eac resource chart

Ronnie Moas, of Standpoint Research, thinks that Bitcoin will hit $5,000 in 2018. That’s up nearly 80% from its current price…

In the next 10 years, Bitcoin could be hitting well above $5,000. I’ve heard analysts say that Bitcoin may hit as high as $10,000, $30,000, or $60,000...

But Wait! There's More

While Bitcoin may be the most well-known cryptocurrency, it’s not the only one that’s breaking records…

CoinDesk writes:

The combined market capitalization of all public cryptocurrencies has surged nearly 80% over the last month, as more than $20bn worth of new investment dollars has flooded the nascent market. 

In roughly 30 days alone, the market cap for experimental blockchain-based cryptographic assets has ballooned from $27.8bn to $49.5bn.

Ethereum

Ethereum is similar to Bitcoin, but it isn’t a currency per se. It’s actually an open-source computing platform that uses smart contracts.

Blockgeeks writes:

Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is a distributed public blockchain network. Although there are some significant technical differences between the two, the most important distinction to note is that Bitcoin and Ethereum differ substantially in purpose and capability. Bitcoin offers one particular application of blockchain technology, a peer to peer electronic cash system that enables online Bitcoin payments. While the bitcoin blockchain is used to track ownership of digital currency (bitcoins), the Ethereum blockchain focuses on running the programming code of any decentralized application.

You may have heard people to refer to ether, as well. Ether is Ethereum’s currency — a way to pay for transactions and is a tradable cryptocurrency.

Ethereum has had a shocking six months.

In January, it was trading for $8.

Now, it’s $298.27. It even broke above $400 for a brief period of time in June — that’s more than a 4,900% jump in just six months:

ethereum chart eac resource

Investors are buying into Ethereum for several reasons. First, we’re moving toward a cashless society, and investors are realizing the value of open-source public platforms for banking and business.

And as we mentioned before, investors are using Bitcoin like they’d once used gold — as a bet against uncertain times. And there’s no doubt that the past year has been a tense one, with the divisive U.S. and French presidential elections, tensions increasing with North Korea, and the U.S dropping its largest non-nuclear weapon on Afghanistan. We’re living in uncertain times, and it’s making Bitcoin, and now Ethereum, jump.

ethereum_responsive

The last, and perhaps most important, reason for investing in Ethereum is something called blockchain.

You see, one of the main problems with Bitcoin is hacking. Because everything is online, it’s very susceptible to hacking, and this makes investors wary.

But blockchain is supposedly unhackable.

According to Newshub:

The Ethereum project is using that Blockchain software to create so-called "smart contracts" that can self-execute. It has the potential to cut out the middlemen like banks and lawyers in transactions, revolutionising major industries.

Obviously, every financial institution wants to make sure that its transactions are secure. And with the release of blockchain, they can have more confidence in electronic currencies.

Ripple

Ripple works with financial institutions to send money around in a fast, secure environment.

Ripple was $0.05 before the weekend of May 5th. By Monday, May 8th, it was $0.22. That’s a 70% rise over the course of a few days.

It’s currently sitting at $0.18.

Ripple is based around a shared public database and has recently collaborated with major financial institutions, like Star One Credit Union, SEB, and eight others.

Some analysts think that we could see Ripple triple in value again if those who are interested in Bitcoin get involved.

Litecoin

Litecoin hit highs of $35 on May 10th and is currently sitting at $47.70, which is more than an 1,390% increase since the start of the year. Litecoin was inspired by Bitcoin and is very similar in technology and purpose. Like Bitcoin, it isn’t controlled by a government or bank and is also open-source.

CoinJournal writes:

The main reason behind the recent rally has been the rising support and adoption of SegWit. Litecoin, like Bitcoin, has a block capability that limits the number of transactions per block.

SegWit limits the number of litecoins on the market. And as with anything, less supply leads to more demand — making prices jump.

Where is Cryptocurrency Headed?

You may have heard some of the debate recently over Bitcoin’s future…

In simple terms, Bitcoin was getting too big and couldn’t keep up with its size. So, it had two options:

  • Alter its code in small increments (a soft fork).
  • Alter its code and increase its block size (a hard fork).

It was a bitter debate among the Bitcoin community. And up until two weeks ago, it looked like Bitcoin was going to go for the soft fork option. But eventually, the community decided to be more aggressive and chose to go with the hard fork.

This fork has created a new altcoin called Bitcoin Cash (BCH). It’s similar to the original Bitcoin (BTC), but it has more room for growth.

So, should you jump on the BCH train? Not yet. Currently, most of the community and developers are on the side of “regular” BTC. And without their support, BCH could end up floundering.

While the hard versus soft forks debate took place within the Bitcoin community, right now, other cryptocurrencies are taking their leads from Bitcoin. When it jumps, they jump. And when it falls, they do, too. It’s possible that this won’t last forever. Some think that Ethereum could end up having a higher ceiling than Bitcoin since it’s more useful in the long run. But currently, Bitcoin is the one in charge.

Should You Buy Cryptocurrency?

The release of blockchain and SegWit has led to more security and less supply. And, along with the global movement toward cashless living, it only makes sense that cryptocurrencies are expanding. Understandably, you may want to get invested in them.

Of course, caution should be used when buying into cryptocurrencies. It’s a relatively new market. Even Bitcoin, which is currently the most solid cryptocurrency, has had severe ups and downs (in January, it fell nearly 30%). This volatility should be considered before making a purchase.

Because everything’s online, there’s also the issue of hacking. While no one has been able to hack blockchain yet, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. And while the lack of control by central banking systems is one reason why people buy into cryptocurrency, it also means that it’s not regulated or insured.

You could make it rich if you buy into cryptocurrencies. Or you may end up with less than you started with. Think about it in terms of the 1848 gold rush. Some people found gold in California, and they became very wealthy… But the majority rushed to California, spent a lot of money, and came back with nothing.

Now, we’re not trying to scare you. We’re just reminding you that cryptocurrencies are speculative and, if you buy into them, you should proceed with caution. Make sure that the site you’re using is secure and that the money you’re putting into them is money you can afford to lose.

This being said, we know that some of you still want to invest. You can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin on Coinbase. It’s simple and easy to attach your credit card or bank account to your Coinbase account. From there, you can start buying and selling.

Here’s to the cryptocurrency millionaires! May we all know them; may we all become them.


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