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August 15, 2017

Bitcoin as an Investment Asset?

The summer of 2017 is forcing us to talk about Bitcoin in new ways. For several years now, even when it has been performing well, Bitcoin has seemed fairly easy to dismiss. Many of us didn't believe it had any shot of becoming a mainstreamalternative currency, and some of us even expected it to fizzle out entirely. Now, it's starting to seem clear that Bitcoin is here to stay. Its price has broken a $4,000 barrier that once seemed impossible, and as you may have seen in a recent post on this site, there is some speculation that it could reach $10,000 (or more).

This surge in value has come during a time that some seemed to view as a make-or-break year for cryptocurrency. But it is also coming less than two years after Bitcoin was defined as a commodity in a ruling by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Depending on how you feel about cryptocurrency, that ruling may have held no significance whatsoever. But if you were skeptical of its value, you gained a new way of thinking about it not as a currency alternative, but as an asset that can be bought and stored as an investment, much like gold.

But should it be an investment asset you consider?

One thing to consider that does not always get brought up in these conversations is that owning Bitcoin has become easier. A few years ago the whole idea of a digital wallet was complicated. These days it's more simple than ever. People understand that Bitcoin wallets allow users to receive, store, and send Bitcoins, with a store being the operative word when we talk about investing. There are more wallet options than there once were, and many of them particularly on mobile platforms are easier to use. This makes it an easier process to buy and hold onto Bitcoin, just as you might buy shares in a stock or a given quantity of gold.

That more or less solves practical issues associated with Bitcoin investment. Next comes strategy, and there, to some extent, you are on your own. And just to keep things complicated, expert takes on the idea are all over the place. Some argue that more people will be using Bitcoin, which should continue to inflate its value. Others argue that merchants are not accepting Bitcoin in high enough numbers. Some state that because there is a finite amount of Bitcoin in the world, demand will increase once it is all available. Meanwhile, others counter that at a certain point, early investors will cash out anyway which will deflate the market in the process. Advocates say that Bitcoin is far and away the strongest cryptocurrency, and skeptics acknowledge this but point to other digital currencies as more strategic investments.

These are the debates surrounding Bitcoin investment, and they are all questions you will need to address if it is something you are considering. But we do know that more people are considering making this sort of investment, and it's become easier to do if you are interested.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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