Believing in Bitcoin: The Rise of Digital Gold

As volatile as the price of Bitcoin is, the trend continues upward.

“We sell gold and silver, so it’s interesting,” says Neosho-based jeweler Steve Tipton. “If it’s called digital gold, we want to have a part in it.”

Bitcoin — the mother of all cryptocurrencies. call it an investment in the invisible, but since the first transaction with it in 2008, the tender of the tech world has continued to prove analysts wrong, and make its early investors ridiculously wealthy.

“People are interested in it,” Tipton explains. “They’ve watched it since we’ve had it on our sign, since under $1000, and now it’s as high as $42,000. Most people who buy bitcoin buy it and hold it. That’s what they want to do with it. Almost nobody is transacting with it. Most people buying bitcoin right now are holding it for an investment.”

One of those people who bought in early is Neosho native Stephen Cole.

“I don’t part with Bitcoin lightly,” Cole tells us and laughs. “Bitcoin are precious and they’re scarce, and the world has no idea how valuable they are yet, and I am on a mission to accumulate as much Bitcoin as I can, and I encourage others to do the same.”

After graduating from Missouri Southern, Cole moved to San Francisco, where he first learned about Bitcoin in 2013 from some co-workers in Silicon Valley. That’s when he started investing in it.

Eight years later, he’s a a vocal advocate for cryptocurrency, both through social media and by investing in startup companies and non-profits.

“My biggest focus area is Bitcoin,” he specifies. “So companies that are building on Bitcoin in ways that I think are important.”

Many of them are focused on the areas of privacy and security. While the value of a single Bitcoin has grown by 400% since this time last year, economists continue to see it as a risky investment. This in part due to its lack of regulation – something Cole identifies as one of the tradeoffs of a decentralized currency.

“The same features of Bitcoin that make it so that no central entity or oppressive regime can prevent you from sending to someone else, or can reach into your account and take your money,” Cole clarifies. “That also makes it so that if you lose access to your funds or if someone else finds the keys that control your Bitcoin, then it often makes the recovery of those funds impossible.”

At the same time, Cole believes that educating the public is crucial for Bitcoin’s sustainability.

“It’s important to be aware of those trade offs, and if you do invest in Bitcoin, just being sure that you thoughtfully evaluate the companies that you’re using. The software that you’re using to mitigate those risks.”

Still, Cole believes in bitcoin more than ever, and for those who continue to watch the saga of “digital gold” unfold, all signs say the numbers speak for themselves.

“Oh I believe it’s value, and with other people believing in its value, it’s going to have value,” said Tipton. “That’s all that gives even dollars value is if people believe it has value, then it has value. And I think it’s going to be volatile, but I think it’s going to keep going up until people believe that it’s not valuable. At the moment, it looks like it’s just starting.”