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Risk & Reward: Spending Your Cryptocurrency in 2018
Once the preserve of tech wizards and entrepreneurs, increasingly, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ripple are being adopted into the mainstream. And, with the value of Bitcoin soaring and new versions of cryptocurrency appearing all the time, we could be witnessing a revolution in the way we pay for our goods and services.
What is Cryptocurrency?
For the uninitiated, cryptocurrency is basically digital cash. It exists entirely in the virtual world and uses cryptography – the art of solving complex code – to secure and verify payments and transfers. It is the first truly international tender, entirely decentralised and exempt from any government controls or banking regulations, and, for companies and individuals alike, the benefits are clear: faster, more secure transfers, tax-free purchases and low transaction costs.
Of course, there are risks associated with any investment, and even the most seemingly benign transactions can be subject to economic and global change. But digital currencies in particular have come in for a lot of scrutiny. So what, if any, are the dangers of investing in cyber-cash? First is the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies. From an all time high in December 2017, Bitcoin had dropped a massive 28 per cent just a few months later. And this seems par for the course, with the value of cryptocurrencies experiencing huge fluctuations on an almost daily basis. But this yo-yo effect doesn't seem to have put too many people off, with more businesses than ever adopting the digital coin in 2017. Second is the thing that makes cryptocurrencies so unique - decentralisation. While great from a consumer perspective, this has not gone down too well with governments around the world, and, increasingly, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are facing potentially damaging regulatory legislation, with the UK, for one, set to implement harsher controls in 2018.
But, for the time being at least, cryptocurrency is still seen by many as the capital of the future; and, with more and more businesses offering us the option to pay in crypto-cash, here are just a few ways you can spend your digital coin in 2018.
Make a Donation
With charities increasingly looking to outsource their fundraising, third party solicitation is a growing problem. With cryptocurrency’s unique peer-to-peer network you can make contributions directly to your chosen charity, track your money in real-time and have the peace of mind that one hundred per cent of your donation is going to a worthy cause.
See the World
In 2013 CheapAir became the first online travel agency to accept digital currency, allowing customers to book flights and hotels, and even pay for car rentals and cruises. Other travel sites have since spotted the potential, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have proved a real boon for the modern traveller. As well as ease of use, digital tender mitigates the cost of currency conversion and international transaction fees, while at the same time eliminating the risk of credit card fraud.
Play the Game
The iGaming industry has been at the vanguard of digital currency for several years, and business is booming. An early adopter of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Altcoin, these innovative sites allow players to try their luck at virtual slots, blackjack, roulette and live-streamed video Poker. And with sites offering ‘provably fair’ gaming, a tool unique to crypto-gaming and Bitcoin gambling, players are able to verify each roll of the dice and each turn of the card.
Step on the Property Ladder
The housing market is slowly warming up to digital currency, and entrepreneurs who made their fortunes in crypto-cash are increasingly turning to real estate as a way to secure their assets. 2017 saw the first homes in the UK bought with Bitcoin, and this trend looks set to continue, with more and more developers putting homes up for sale in cryptocurrency.
Do the Business
While blue chip companies have been slow adopters, a new generation of businesses is slowly waking up to the huge potential of cyber-currency. 2017 was a bumper year for the digital coin, with more companies than ever offering their customers crypto-based payment options. And this uptick in popularity means cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Altcoin are increasingly beginning to rival more established payment systems such as Paypal and Stripe. Cryptocurrency gives companies greater control over their funds, allowing them to bypass traditional banking systems and avoid costly transaction fees, so expect to see many more businesses taking advantage of cryptocurrency’s unique benefits in 2018.
While still a relatively niche medium, the popularity of cryptocurrency is growing fast, with an estimated ten million people worldwide currently trading in digital money and some countries even looking at cyber-cash as a way to relieve inflation. But many still perceive digital currency as a risky investment, far too volatile to ever rival cold hard cash, and perhaps it will take a few more years and a new generation of tech-savvy consumers before cryptocurrency is fully integrated into the global economy.
© 2018 Conrad Watson