You can’t hold it in your hand.
It exists only in the digital world.
But enthusiasm is growing daily for the digital currency Bitcoin.
The senior wealth advisor for the Monteverde Group urges people to temper their enthusiasm with the facts.
People proudly tell Jason Haswell that they’re investing in Bitcoin.
“And my first question to them is, OK, you’ve invested in it, so what is it?” Haswell said,. “And most of the time I have gotten only stunned silence. I’ve had several people think that Bitcoin is an actual coin. And it is not.”
“I have no idea,” admitted Tim Johnson of the Barnesville area, when asked what Bitcoin is.
“I have no idea,” added Carol Bluthardt of Bellaire. “I know I’ve heard of it before.”
“I really don’t know a whole lot about it,” said Cinda Hoover of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. “I haven’t looked into it myself.”
Haswell says typical currencies are backed by their country of origin, or in our case, the FDIC.
He says Bitcoin is not backed, not insured.
“If someone steals or hacks into your Bitcoin account, how do you get your money back?” noted Haswell. “Or I should say, how do you get your Bitcoin units back. There’s no real way to do that.”
He says it’s digital currency; there’s nothing physically there to put in your wallet.
Yet people are thrilled with the idea, and often ask him to get them into Bitcoin.
“It’s way too risky,” Haswell said. “I mean you can see the volatility. It’s on the news daily. It’s going up and down in huge swings. It’s not something we would typically do, even with our riskiest clients.”
He says your bank won’t recognize it.
“To go to your local bank like a Main Street Bank or Wesbanco or whatever and say I want to pay my car payment in Bitcoin, no, that can not happen,” he said.
He says the fact that there’s no documentation, no tax records and no reporting of transactions appeals to those who want to stay under the radar.
“Drug cartels and terrorists would like something where they can do transactions in a currency and it’s not regulated,” he said.
Despite all that, Haswell says it’s an interesting concept that he believes will get better with time.
He says once it becomes efficient and safe, it will probably be used all over the world.
But in his words, “just not yet.”