ERIE, Pa. — Bitcoin, the popular digital currency, is reaching new heights more people opt in.
Wesleyville resident Mike Miller said, “Two, three years ago when I made my first purchases using Bitcoin–knowing what that’s worth, now–that person is smiling, right now.”
Miller, who began mining, or generating, the cryptocurrency around 2012. His small holding of a fraction of a Bitcoin has grown.
“Back then it was a much larger portion, which now, five years later has turned out to be a decent return on investment.”
Bitcoin was created in 2009 as a response to the financial crisis. Users say it allows people to make secure, transactions with a currency that is not controlled by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve.
As recently as January, Bitcoin was trading at less than $900. Miller said after watching the price rise over the past half-year, he started investing again a few weeks ago and doubled his money.
“Everything that I’ve been reading on Bitcoin has said it could possibly get up to $80,000 a coin for a full coin,” said Miller. “Currently, it’s seeing just shy $20,000 per coin.”
Besides the online exchanges, Bitcoin ATMs are sprouting up giving people another point of access to the currency; but some investment advisers have concerns.
“It’s not really for you average investor,” said Roland Kljunich, president and CEO of Roland Financial Wealth Management. “So, if you’re thinking this is going to be your chance to get this big windfall, the risk in cryptocurrency is very different than the traditional investing.”
Kljunich said Bitcoin has no intrinsic value and likens it to gambling.
“There’s the potential to make money, but there’s also a potential to lose a lot,” he said.
“Don’t spend money you don’t have on Bitcoins,” said Miller.
Bitcoin is gaining credibility with some investors as it goes mainstream. It began trading Sunday on CME, the world largest futures exchange.
It is also receiving investment or engagement from various companies, including Microsoft, PayPal and Overstock.com.