It was in that first wave of Bitcoin mania that myself and a colleague thought we better see what all the fuss was about. We bought £100 of Bitcoin and held it on Coinbase, a digital wallet, and then watched as the price fell so steeply – down 80pc by December 2018 – that we could not even withdraw the remains, so meagre were they.
It’s fairly complicated to get started, particularly if you want to actually own the currency. Spread betting and “contract for difference” trading sites like IG let you buy exposure to the changing price of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and others without going to the bother of finding a broker and set-up a myriad of passwords. If you want to become a Bitcoin “miner”, that’s a whole other level of commitment.
Simplest of all is to buy via Revolut, the hipster app-only bank, which has been letting customers buy and hold crypto for three years. As with all money held by Revolut, it is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, unlike most major banks.
If you approach a financial adviser asking about cryptocurrency the likely response would be a scream and slammed phone. Buying Bitcoin is not to be confused with investing in stocks or bonds, and certainly not with savings. This is gambling, plain and simple.
Yes there are the usual scammers trying to part people from their money – listen to the BBC’s excellent The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast – but the main problem is the difficulty in understanding why and how prices move.