Bitcoin: successful trade or superstitious fad?


Joseph Potts

Junior Devin Shelsky uses his phone to sign onto his Bitcoin account.

Joseph Potts, Reporter

Most kids going through their teenage years face issues while growing up, but there is one problem that will stick with them for most of their life: money. Investing has not been a popular source of income for teenagers until the creation of the online currency known as Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency created by an anonymous man who has gone under the alias of Satoshi Nakamoto. With Bitcoin, transactions can made without the inclusion of a bank and can be done through peer-to-peer technology like sending messages on a phone.

“It can be a fad for a moment, but this is a fad that is going to fluctuate and come around a couple of times,” said junior Devin Shelsky. ”It’s going to be like every other cryptocurrency. They are all going to have their chance to have their fame. Like Litecoin is only a buck a share right now. If people invested a hundred bucks into it right now, they’ll probably become close to millionaires here in the next five years, maybe even less.”

There is rising concern that the Bitcoin bubble could potentially burst and cause a financial disaster. Some are skeptical about its future and worry about the security Bitcoin offers for ID’s and social security numbers.

“When people invest in stocks, it is very risky because the stock market is very tricky and it is hard to see the patterns. Virtual reality online coins where you earn money online are very risky because it is not actually in your hand money,” senior and DuTrac representative CJ Busch said.

All transactions and exchanges in Bitcoin are kept in check through a network of decentralized computers from around the world. The logging and recording of these transactions are done in a system called the blockchain. Bitcoin can help an individual protect their identity and their money. When a person does a transaction through Bitcoin, the individual does not have to give out their personal identity information or their credit card number. Next, the address that a person uses changes with every Bitcoin transaction and that is sent is anonymously.

“Bitcoin is probably the safest currency we have right now,” Shelsky said. ”It’s undetectable, it can come from any location. It can be sent to anywhere in the world.”

Though Bitcoin has useful benefits, it does come with some concerns and risks.

“I would rather invest in Netflix, Twitter, or even the WWE before I would invest lots of money into a cryptocurrency in its infancy. Anyone who gets involved should be able to lose everything. Do not get into it unless you are ready to lose,” cybersecurity teacher John Brosius said.

Even though users who use Bitcoin are anonymous and have private accounts, they are still in danger of having their accounts hacked and bitcoins stolen.

Since there is no FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) or bank to protect the currency or ensure security over the bitcoins, the risk of identity theft and or people having their bitcoins stolen or used to do illegal things is incredibly high.

“Do not give your personal information to anyone unless it is your bank, your job, and the DMV,” Brosius said. “Example, I have my real birthday that my bank knows, but I have a fake birthday that I use at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Facebook, Instagram, and any random website that needs my birthday.”

There is also the volatility of bitcoins, which is very excessive, with the values of  bitcoins going up and down rapidly. A person can earn or lose money through simple speculation.

If a person does plan on investing in Bitcoin, they should think before they put down any of their money.

“Do not use it as a long term investing tool .I recommend if anyone is going to be a speculator that you purchase technology stocks. Long term investing is the goal and you will make more money,” Brosious said. “I would not buy Bitcoin, I would by Netflix. Did you know Netflix stock price in 2013 was $27.50 and today it is $250.00 plus? If you invested $1000 in Netflix you would have over $100,000 dollars. Is Netflix going to be here tomorrow? Yes. If you invested the same in Bitcoin in 2013 you would have more money today, but would it be around tomorrow? Who knows, but it wouldn’t be part of my long term portfolio.”

With the excessive volatility of Bitcoin, a person should be cautious about the money they are investing or spending and think through every transaction because the risks of getting involved in cyber-currency is a situation that has potential for big rewards and failures.