Bitcoin is often talked about as ‘digital gold’, but can it really be compared to gold? The price of a single Bitcoin passed the price of an ounce of gold last year, and since then, the Bitcoin to Dollar price has increased another 10 fold. Of course, comparing the price of a Bitcoin to an ounce of gold is a little arbitrary, but it still has many of us asking: is Bitcoin a more profitable investment than gold?
Here are some of the ways that the first cryptocurrency trumps gold as an investment in 2018, and why you might want to get your hands on some now.
1. Bitcoin’s soaring value
If you bought $1,000 of gold at the start of 2017, it would have been worth about $1,100 at the start of 2018. That’s a pretty good return for an investment like gold. Although, if you bought gold 5 years ago, you would have lost about 20% of your investment so far.
The price of Bitcoin is a completely different story. If you invested $1,000 at the start of 2017, it would have been worth well over $100,000 by the end of the year. If you invested 5 years ago, you would be a millionaire. The drawback is that Bitcoin is a much more dangerous investment. Big price movements, like the ones on the cryptocurrency markets, are volatile and unpredictable – something you don’t really get with gold. However, Bitcoin as ‘digital gold’ has outperformed real gold in terms of price on every front for the last few years. Buying Bitcoin is so far proving to give a much better return on investment.
This is evident from the increasing number of enthusiasts hitting cryptocurrency exchanges to join the ranks of Bitcoin investors. At the popular exchange CEX.IO, which allows customers to buy Bitcoin with debit card, the number of newly registered users passed the 300,000 mark over the course of one month – December 2017.
2. Fast online transactions
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, meaning it is a currency based on cryptography and math. It has no physical form and only really exists as numbers. You can store these numbers anywhere, print them out on paper, or even have them printed on coins if you like. With the Internet, you have the ability to send them anywhere in the world and see the evidence appear worldwide on the Bitcoin blockchain in minutes. What’s more, the amount you send doesn’t increase the cost of a transaction. You could send your entire net worth in Bitcoin to the other side of the planet for a very low cost.
Gold and cash are more difficult to move and will likely alarm the customs officers of any country if you try to bring large amounts across the border. Sure, you can invest in gold in other ways, like buying shares in gold companies or futures contracts, but it’s not the same as having the real thing. With Bitcoin you get to fully own and control the real asset AND have the ability to move it around freely, easily, and across borders.
3. You can store it safely yourself
Gold is the classic target for thieves. Whether it’s in coins, bars, or jewelry form, it’s difficult to keep it safe. Storing large amounts of gold on your own property is just asking for trouble. The best option is to store it in a vault, but even that costs money, and you ultimately lose control of your gold.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, is easy to store. There are many options you can choose from to store your Bitcoin, ranging from simple wallet apps to more secure cold storage and even paper wallets. With a combination of these, you can strike the right balance between easy access and security.
Sure, there have been countless scandals over the years about Bitcoin being hacked or stolen, but you can avoid these if you know what you’re doing. The largest Bitcoin thefts have happened where users trusted a third party to store their Bitcoin for them. Storing your Bitcoins yourself in a smart way will keep you safe from most of the dangers without needing a bank vault.
4. The supply is limited
There are only 21 million Bitcoins that can ever exist. That’s it, finished. These will be mined at a fixed, predictable rate that nobody can tamper with. There is no chance any government or criminals can print or mine any more than that number. This limited supply is one of the key advantages Bitcoin has over fiat currencies like the US dollar and, to some extent, gold. Traditional currencies can be printed by governments, and when they do, the value of the money you have declines. This is why prices rise over time and inflation occurs. More gold is also being mined all the time, especially when the price goes up. This can’t happen to Bitcoin.
The tech guru who co-founded Apple, has similar views on Bitcoin. “Gold gets mined and mined, and mined. Maybe there’s a finite amount of gold in the world, but Bitcoin is even more mathematical, and nobody can change mathematics” – Wozniak says.
5. It’s part of a technological revolution
Let’s face it, Bitcoin is really cool and exciting. The technology that makes Bitcoin possible is called blockchain, and it’s a bigger deal than many people realize. It’s already proving to be one of the major breakthroughs of the 21st century, completely changing how we transact with each other in an internet connected world. Blockchain applications are starting to disrupt how international money transactions, governments, central banks, voting, and even legal processes work. By owning Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you get to be a part of this historic change.
Of course, you shouldn’t invest too much in Bitcoin. The price varies wildly from week to week, and you can easily lose money if you aren’t careful.
Bitcoin has certainly been the best performing and most exciting asset of the last few years. It’s getting so big that investors, regulatory bodies, and financial institutions are starting to take it seriously as a store of value. These are just some of the reasons you should be getting excited about Bitcoin. We’re at the start of a major shift in the way we do things, and in a few years, ‘digital gold’ will become more mainstream and more valuable.