Rise of cryptocurrency: How it works, where it’s going

Finance

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Cryptocurrencies are big business on Wall Street as valuations soar, but are they a form of currency for the masses?

CPA Garrett Wagner discussed the rise of these digital currencies Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.

For many, Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency.

“Bitcoin is a truly interesting technological creation,” said Wagner. “What makes it really interesting, if we go back to the beginning, no one knows who created it. Unlike Kodak – we all know here in Rochester George Eastman was the founder of Kodak – no one knows who created Blockchain and cryptocurrency. So it’s shrouded in mystery. But their goal was to take power away from the banks and let people like you and me exchange money without banks. So that’s kind of how it got started – take power away from the banks and create a global currency. It’s just kind of gone from there in this big mess of confusion which is what we’re seeing today.”

Wagner explained how cryptocurrency works.

“It’s very similar to the fundamental idea about you and I exchanging cash. Instead of having cash in U.S. currency, we’ll have cash in Bitcoin or Ether or something else and we’ll exchange that from one to another. Now that’s not what gets most of the hype of cryptocurrency today. Most of the hype that we hear about is people investing in Blockchain, in Bitcoin, in Ether – more like it’s a stock and they hope that if I buy $1,000 worth of Bitcoin today it will be worth $5,000 tomorrow. They don’t want to actually conduct transactions with it. They hope that they just make a bunch of money and get out before it crashes back down.”

Bitcoin has been around for more than 10 years, but Wagner said people outside investors have been slow to gravitate to it.

“We’re used to U.S. dollars. We’re used to credit cards. We’re used to ATM cards. Trying to get everybody to switch over to something else is a monumentally difficult task. So it’s been very, very, very slow to gain that adoption because no one wants to be the only person at a dinner party with 20 people who has Blockchain when everyone else has actual cash. So it’s been slow to make that change. It’ll come at some point in the future, possibly, but for now, all of the speculation is about how can people get rich on this technology.”

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