Bitcoin’s 10th birthday earlier this year provided a good chance to reflect upon just how far the cryptocurrency has come since its genesis block. With BTC’s price appreciating by about 1,000,000% since trading of it began, it also makes you question whether there’s still the huge potential upside for investors that existed way back then, or if 2019 is too late to be an early investor in cryptocurrencies.
For those of us who make a living in the cryptocurrency industry, it can feel as if most people already know about Bitcoin and altcoins. Spending any considerable amount of time on reddit and CT (crypto twitter) only strengthens this feeling. With that in mind, I decided to escape the crypto bubble for a day and go to a nearby university campus to see how many of the students there were familiar with Bitcoin.
I decided a fun way to get a real gauge on the general public awareness of Bitcoin would be to stop students and ask them a simple question:
If I were to give you one Dollar or one Bitcoin right now, which would you accept?
I expected a pretty mixed bag of responses. After all, it’s not that long ago that Bitcoin was making headlines in the mainstream media as it ascended to an all-time high of nearly $20,000 per BTC.
What I found, however, was that the vast majority of students I talked to chose the dollar bill in my hand rather than the digital currency on my phone. More than that, they chose the dollar without hesitation or question - already thinking about which snack they’d buy with it at the vending machine.
It wasn’t until learning Bitcoin’s value (~$5.4k at the time of filming) that the students changed their answers.
On the one hand, everybody I talked to had at least heard of Bitcoin before. Surely, we can thank the 2017 bull market for that. But on the other hand, this experience clearly showed that the general public understanding of Bitcoin is still minimal at best. Most people had no idea that 1 BTC is worth much more than 1 USD, let alone any of the reasons why Bitcoin has been gaining value over the years.
So, I think we found our answer to that question of if it’s too late to be an early investor in cryptocurrencies. We are still very very early in this process. You probably won’t get 1,000,000% returns in the next decade, of course, but 2,000%+ returns are still in the cards.
The typical advice these college students will hear is to make the safe play: put most of their money in low-risk index funds and capture those 6% annual gains. Nobody will mention that the average annual inflation of the Dollar is more than 3%, or that the practices that caused the 2008 recession (e.g. fractional reserve banking) have remained common to this day.
Bitcoin will be “too risky” for the average Joe for many more years to come.
And as long as that’s the case, the upside will be huge for those who understand what Bitcoin is and why it matters. But if you wait for everybody else to say it’s safe, the real money will have been made well before you join the party.
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