I bought a Bitcoin. In fact, I bought two. For those of you having lived on the moon for the last couple of months: Bitcoin is a digital currency that isn’t regulated by any government, pretty much untraceable and therefore used primarily by bad people for buying guns, drugs and other shady merchandise. Have I descended into a crooked life of corruption, without morals or principles? Yes, but that was when I landed my first advertising job back in 2000. But it’s not the reason why I have bought Bitcoins last month. They also happen to be a very lucrative commodity. Over the course of 2013, its value has exploded from € 9 in January to € 900 in November. That’s a 9,900 % value increase. Even if – like me – you know as much about financial markets as you do about the mating rituals of stick insects, you must understand that’s a big rise. And so lot of people made some serious money off of Bitcoin last year. Sadly I’m not one of them, but I’d like to believe I could still catch the second wave.
I got in right after the market crashed, only for it to bounce back with a vengeance ten minutes later. In two hours time, I had made a 40% profit. And just like that, I was hooked. As I’m not in the Bitcoin game for short-term gains, I haven’t sold any of my digital dough just yet. Not when it skyrocketed right after I bought it. Nor when it free fell when the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange managed to lose € 350 million worth of coins as if they were a set of car keys. Luckily, my two precious coins weren’t among them, so I am still patiently awaiting the next boom.
Though none of this has got anything to do with advertising, the Bitcoin phenomenon is a fascinating sign of our times. In an age where our lives have gone all but completely digital, money is one of the last remaining strongholds of the analogue world. But as much as we like to blame banks for the deepest crisis of our time, very few people are closing out their accounts and stashing their life savings in an obscure currency that might not exist anymore by next Tuesday. Not yet, that is. But if Bitcoin got enough traction and became slightly more stable than the canister of nitro-glycerine in a washing machine it is today, it just might give the banks – wait for it – a run for their money.
I wish could tell you I got on board as a protest against the system. That I believe greed is destroying our society and therefore I refuse to be part of it any longer. But the simple truth is I’m trying to make some easy money. So far I haven’t though. In fact as I’m writing this, the market is imploding again and I’m beginning to think my Bitcoins are about as valuable as a parachute in space. But you know what they say: what comes down, must go up. I hope.
* Written for Amsterdam Adblog