Regret is a painful thing, people who considered investing in bitcoin at the beginning of the decade, but didn’t, will tell you.
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In fact, CNN first reported, if you had invested US$1 (AU$1.44) in bitcoin at the beginning of the decade, you would have made more than US$90,000 (AU$130,000) in the time since, a new report has revealed.
The report, which likely has people around the world kicking themselves, noted that a bitcoin is currently worth around US$7,000 - well below its peak price of around US$20,000 two years ago - but still a lot more than its price at the beginning of the decade.
That makes bitcoin the decade’s best investment, the Bank of America Securities report found.
Bitcoin first appeared in 2008 after its mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamato published the manifesto, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”.
From there, the highly speculative currency grew in popularity as investors bought into its promise of greater security and ability to make peer-to-peer payments without needing a trusted third party.
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing, with the currency suffering a massive decline in 2017.
And it’s also been soundly criticised.
The Bank for International Settlements’ general manager Agustín Carstens in 2018 described it as a “combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster”.
“To the extent they are used, bitcoins and their cousins seem more attractive to those who want to make transactions in the black or illegal economy, rather than everyday transactions,” Carstens said.
“In a way, this should not be surprising, since individuals who massively evade taxes or launder money are the ones who are willing to live with cryptocurrencies’ extreme price volatility.”
The Reserve Bank of Australia governor, Philip Lowe, has also queried whether cryptocurrency was “speculative mania”.
In June this year, he said he has “long thought that a kind of cryptocurrency would not really take off in Australia”.
Cryptocurrency has also been mired with access problems, with people accidentally losing access to their millions in bitcoin.
Quadriga CX is currently embroiled in a legal battle over the AU$266 million it lost in cryptocurrency including bitcoin, after its CEO Gerald Cotten died while holding sole access to the huge digital wallets.
The authorities are now considering whether the loss of access was a genuine accident, or an elaborate scam.
The troubled firm was also discovered to have sent around AU$519,000 in cryptocurrency to a wallet it had been locked out of, after it had been locked out.
But for the true believers, bitcoin remains the future, with increasing numbers of businesses offering to transact in bitcoin.
And services like Gobbill allow people who use cryptocurrencies to pay for items even if the biller doesn’t accept cryptocurrency.
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