Several years ago, we wrote about whether or not forex was an option as a means of investment. For those who may be unfamiliar with the idea, forex is essentially the trading of one national currency against another, meant to capitalize on the shifts in value between them. On a very basic level, it involves buying currency itself and hoping that that currency’s worth inflates.
Forex remains as much of an option as it ever was for investors, but recent years have also brought a different sort of currency investment to light. Specifically, Bitcoin—the pioneering digital currency that some predicted would ultimately supplant ordinary money—has become a popular consideration for a lot of traders. There’s ongoing debate about Bitcoin’s status in that some view it as a currency, some as a commodity, and others even as a type of property. Nevertheless, the fact is that it’s an entirely digital concept that can be used to purchase goods and services, to exchange money with friends, or to be stashed away as an investment.
How Does It Work?
There is a way to obtain Bitcoins without actually spending money, but it’s not one that’s considered accessible to most people. There’s a complex mining process through which “miners” help to authenticate existing Bitcoin transactions in exchange for rewards of 25 Bitcoins each. But this process involves specific software, methodology, and powerful computers that most of us simply won’t (or can’t) bother with.
The easier alternative is to simply purchase Bitcoins with your ordinary, everyday money. This can be done at any number of exchange sites and apps. In fact, you may even be able to find a Bitcoin ATM (or BTM) in your area, which will accept cash and give you the numbers and information you need to access your Bitcoin in your online account. It’s an entirely digital currency, but acquiring it and storing it is relatively easy with a little bit of research. For investment purposes, you’ll basically be stocking a wallet for the foreseeable future, until you decide to sell your Bitcoin back for regular currency.
Is Bitcoin Sustainable?
It’s important to note that no one can answer this question with absolute certainty. There’s been debate pretty much since the inception of the cryptocurrency as to whether or not it has any kind of staying power. At this moment, the answer would appear to be that it’s around for the long haul. Prices have been relatively stable in recent months (or years), and more and more vendors are accepting Bitcoin payments. The longer it proves its own utility, the longer it will stick around.
Then again, if Bitcoin continues to be viewed as an alternative to ordinary currency, rather than a commodity or property, its longevity could be tested. There’s a surprisingly long history of alternative currencies that dates back to ancient Egypt and includes numerous token-like systems that have arisen in various civilizations. While some of these were trendsetters in a way, the common thread is that most of them wound up being irrelevant in the long term.
That’s not to say Bitcoin will share the same fate. Right now it’s probably best to view the modern alt-currency as one that’s proven its short-term staying power—but not as one guaranteed to be particularly powerful, say, a decade from now.
Is Bitcoin A Good Investment?
This also isn't a question that can be definitively answered. It’s a question that each trader needs to answer based on personal circumstances, research, and the status of the cryptocurrency at the time of investment. Generally speaking, Bitcoin has represented a fairly strong opportunity for nearly two years. Since mid-2015, its value has increased at a steady rate, with occasional dips but no prolonged recesses.
There are arguments to be made in favor of this stability continuing. Bitcoin advocates will note that more vendors are accepting the currency. Additionally, more people are beginning to think of it as a commodity. Though somewhat contradictory, both of these trends represent increasing value that could be sustained for some time. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that the last time Bitcoin reached highs anything close to its current price (around $920 at the time o this writing), it plunged soon thereafter, nearly reaching an all-time low.
Ultimately, Bitcoin has very much become a viable investment option. But whether or not it’s a strategic one for you still requires careful research and analysis.