← Back to articles

Dear parents, here’s what you need to know about Bitcoin

March 13, 2018 7:45 am Published by

If your kids have been through their teens (or are going through them now), you’re probably used to unpredictable behavior. Sudden mood swings, confidence highs and lows, a rebellious nature.

Should that sound familiar, you already understand the nature of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin acts a bit like a teenager. Volatile and fickle, Bitcoin has been through a series of dramatic price swings. A parade of gains and drops have captured media attention.

As you know, the rough phases your kids go through are part of them growing up and figuring out their place in the world. Despite its unpredictable behavior at the moment, Bitcoin has enormous potential.

Bitcoin is still very new so it hasn’t figured everything out yet. Here at Wirex, we want to explain to you why Bitcoin fits into the future of you and your children. This is what you need to know.

What exactly is Bitcoin?

You don’t need to be tech-savvy to understand Bitcoin.

In its simplest form, Bitcoin is a digital currency. You can:

  • Buy it with your regular (fiat) currency.
  • Sell it for fiat currency.
  • Swap it for another cryptocurrency.

But there are a few big differences between Bitcoin and fiat currencies.

Governments and banks back fiat currencies. They have total control and can print as much as they like. They can also inflate and deflate the value.

No one owns or controls Bitcoin. Not even the people who created it. No individual has the power to create more Bitcoins or inflate the value.

How does that work?

Bitcoin uses a new type of technology called a blockchain.

A blockchain is a record keeping system. Instead of being kept in one place, the records synchronise across every blockchain user.

Each time someone buys, sells or spends Bitcoin, the blockchain records the transaction. The records are permanent, meaning no one can spend a Bitcoin twice (which was a problem with previous digital currencies.)

What does that mean in practice? And why is it better than using a bank?

There are a few big benefits of Bitcoin. For example:

  • You can send money to anyone in the world, fast and without paying any fees or sales tax.
  • If you go abroad, you can use Bitcoin with no need to exchange currencies.
  • Bitcoin purchases are private and not directly linked to your identity. Sure, you’re not trying to hide anything – but why does anyone need to be able to see your transaction history?
  • There are no middlemen involved – no one can freeze your account or take high fees. Bitcoin is a truly democratic currency.
  • There are a finite number of Bitcoins available: 21 million. Once those have all been mined, that’s it. This scarcity gives Bitcoin value, a lot like precious metals.

Is Bitcoin legal?

Unless you live in Algeria, Bolivia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh or Nepal, Bitcoin is perfectly legal. If you plan on buying Bitcoin, you might want to let your accountant know so they can explain if you’ll need to pay tax on it.

What if it all ends badly?

You have lived through (and maybe felt the effects of) several asset bubbles. Hearing about Bitcoin, the dotcom bubble might come to mind.

There is a key difference here, though. Bitcoin isn’t a company. Sure, it has a creator. But it doesn’t have an owner. As discussed in the last section, it is decentralised.

This means, unlike many of the companies that have been and gone on the stock market, there’s no manipulation. Bitcoin can’t ‘manipulate the books’, hiding the things it doesn’t want the public to see. No underhand tactics can be deployed by any all-powerful individual. I wouldn’t worry about Bitcoin being another Enron, for example.

How can Bitcoin be a currency and an investment?

Many people are buying it as a store of value long-term investment. The day to day volatility may be off-putting, but the price has gone through a striking upwards trend over the last few years.

Bitcoin is becoming a popular store of value because it’s so accessible and easy to use. The benefits are clear if we compare it to the usual low-risk investments:

  • Buying property requires an increasingly large amount of money to get started. Selling a property can take months or even years, and involves high fees. Bitcoin can be bought with any amount of money and can be sold fast if needed.
  • Keeping your money in a savings account might be safe, but it will lose value over time.
  • Precious metals have never experienced the kind of price increases as Bitcoin. Sometimes the price stays the same for years, sometimes it declines for years. For many people, Bitcoin is a more exciting, fast-paced form of investing.

How hard is it to buy and use Bitcoin?

Getting involved with Bitcoin is simple and you don’t even need to buy a whole coin. With Wirex, you can buy Bitcoin online, then use a payment card to spend in anywhere. You can also manage your account from your phone and transfer money without paying fees.

Want to know more about how you can get started? Head to our homepage and read more about the simple, safe and secure Wirex account.

Is Bitcoin going to rise again?

There’s no question – Bitcoin’s been on an epic rollercoaster ride of late with the latest market figures valuing it at a mere $7,417 compared to the $19,343 highs of December 2017. But it’s not the only cryptocurrency that’s suffered, with Ethereum and Ripple both experiencing similar drops – so is it the end for the newest… View Article

What is the true value of cryptocurrency?

You can’t see me, or touch me but I can be mined. What am I? Answer – a cryptocurrency (of course). Money that you can’t hold, or really see and only truly exists in cyberspace – a case of the emperor’s new clothes perhaps? After all, surely something only exists because it’s tangible, right? So…if… View Article

A beginner’s look at Ethereum: 7 notable facts

For many people, Ethereum is the logical next step after getting the hang of Bitcoin. A couple of months ago, we covered the basics of Ethereum. Today we’re bringing you seven extra things you should know about the original altcoin. Ethereum is a platform for the cryptocurrency Ether Ethereum is a little more complicated than most altcoins. While Ethereum… View Article

Mass adoption: will Bitcoin ever be mainstream?

A typical innovative technology will linger at the fringes for years or even decades before it spreads. At first, it’s expensive, inaccessible or considered a fad. It’s purpose isn’t obvious or hasn’t emerged yet. Then, seemingly overnight, we’re all using it. More importantly, we can’t imagine our lives without it. It happened with everything from… View Article