The holiday dinner table discussion about bitcoin has evolved and matured over the past eight years. Part of this evolution is in the grudging admission that the technology at bitcoin’s core has unexploited commercial and social utility.
Bitcoin uses constantly growing, encrypted ledgers of transactions known as blockchains to allow secure transactions. Among other uses of blockchain technology, bitcoin has developed an elegant method for transferring value from one person to another.
This is interesting from a technological perspective, and we can agree that this technology has some value. But how much? More important, how do we characterize the action of putting money at risk by buying bitcoin, or any cryptocurrency?
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For one thing, we don’t call it gambling. Gambling means binary bets with high probability of failure. With cryptocurrencies, you’re investing in the future potential of this technology, not a binary situation.
The ultimate question is: As an investment, is bitcoin going to be worth $200,000 or $20,000 or $20? It’s my view that blockchain technology will be ubiquitous in the future. Whether it is bitcoin, which is the leader and commands the highest market cap, or another cryptocurrency, we are witnessing the creation of a completely new asset class and are in uncharted waters.
The short answer is that it all depends on your assumptions (estimates of market size, competitive challenges, rates of adoption, regulatory intervention, market manipulation, etc.).
Invest the amount of money you are comfortable putting at risk. Like the famous disclaimer: Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose.
As I’ve said before, not having a blockchain strategy in 2017 is like not having an Internet strategy in 1999. Don’t be left behind. The market capitalization of this industry is going higher, not lower.
Moe Levin is CEO of Keynote, a global technology conference company responsible for over $250 million in investments into cryptocurrency and blockchain start-ups.