What happened when I tried to buy bitcoin
So some guy scrawled “Buy Bitcoin” on a pad and held it up behind Fed Chair Janet Yellen as she was testifying before Congress yesterday.
The world in 2017.
Fifty years ago there was the Summer of Love. This year we have the Summer of Crypto.
The cautious pessimist in me is tempted to see the Yellen “Buy Bitcoin” stunt as a bearish signal for cryptocurrencies.
Certainly it has a bit of the shoeshine-boy-giving-stock-tips-in-1929 about it.
And yet, where do you put your money these days?
You can find toppy signals everywhere.
This ad from US brokerage E-Trade is doing the rounds this morning, with many commenting it’s the kind of thing you see just before stock markets go splat:
And just parking yourself in cash doesn’t feel too clever either with inflation picking up.
Back to crypto, and if you want an iron cast sign that someone, somewhere is ringing a very large bell, then here it is.
I bought some bitcoin myself this morning.
You know the phrase “early adopter”? Those people who are first to buy the latest smart phone, or fitness tracker, or overpriced novelty wristwatch?
Well, whatever the opposite of that is, that’s me.
I’ve known about bitcoin for years, like most people. But, like a lot of people, I’ve felt it to be a bit too “techy”.
So I left the geeks to it (a bit like with the internet 20 years ago).
I’m not the only one. This reader sums up the feeling:
“I have looked at buying bitcoin, but found it too difficult,” she says, “particularly from a security point of view as my IT knowledge is very limited.”
This is a common concern.
In fact, it’s why today we’ve launched the Secret £20 Crypto Blueprint, which walks you through the process of buying crypto.
Today was the first time I got my hands on it (our publisher has kept the project close to his chest), so I took it for a spin, following the instructions to buy a small amount of bitcoin.
Now, while it was pretty straightforward all-in-all, I wouldn’t be telling you the full story if I didn’t mention one important thing.
This won’t happen to everyone I’m sure, but while I was transferring funds across to buy my bitcoin, my debit card was temporarily blocked.
And if that last sentence has freaked you out, imagine how I felt!
As it turned out, my bank was just being thorough. They sent me a text asking me to confirm the payment (as well as one for the curry I had with Glenn last night, bizarrely).
I confirmed it, and they unlocked my card:
I’ve since used it in Tesco, so I’m pretty sure (fingers crossed!) that it’s all sorted.
I sent the payment again, this time it went through and I had my bitcoin. Here’s my receipt (I’ve blacked out the order number):
Click image to enlarge.
And that’s it. All-in-all it took around ten minutes, including the back-and-forth with my bank.
As you can see, even though the headline price for bitcoin is up in the thousands, you can buy in for much smaller amounts.
I’ll probably leave those bitcoin parked there now. To be honest, it’s not money I’m not banking on necessarily seeing again.
I view bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as an asymmetric bet. They could well fall precipitously from here. On the other hand, there’s genuine scope for massive, massive gains.
I mean, this is what bitcoin’s done so far:
That chart’s a little out-of-date, by the way. There’s been a crypto pullback over the last month (hey, this stuff is volatile!)
Nonetheless, it shows the kind of moves the asset class is capable of.
There’s a temptation, of course, to think the fun is now over and we’ve missed the boat. It’s very possible we have.
Then again, I thought that back in 2014, as bitcoin retreated from its highs… and continued to languish for the next two years after that.
We can’t expect to get the timing perfect or even close-to-perfect with any investment. So don’t even worry about it with something that moves this erratically.
Instead, think of this as a punt, but one with unlimited potential upside.
That’s especially so when it comes to the so-called “penny cryptos”.
The penny cryptos. Under-the-radar cryptocurrencies that could return you multiple times what you’d make on bitcoin itself.