Steep rises, frauds and theft: Chaos in the bitcoin world
As the Bitcoin crossed the $17,000 mark, Twitterati seems to have gone crazy over a seemingly "generous" offer by a user: one free bitcoin each to "five random people" who retweet his post announcing the giveaway. He's to announce the results at 6pm today. Meanwhile, hackers took off with $70mn worth of bitcoins from a cryptocurrency-mining service. The world of bitcoins has gone topsy-turvy.
First things first. Can you actually get free bitcoins?
Travis Weaver (@TravWeav) posted on Twitter yesterday: "Bought 1,500 bitcoin in 2011 for $2.87 each. I will pick 5 random people who retweet this and give one to each of you. Merry Christmas." However, searching for "Bought 1,500 bitcoin" would throw up at least 10 similar tweets by different people in the last 24 hours. The Verge reached out to two such people, but they didn't respond.
Okay. How about investing in bitcoins then?
Meanwhile, NYT reports bitcoins surged past the $20,000 mark on some exchanges: it started 2017 at below $1,000. Many have credited this frenzy to institutional investors: banks have been racing to issue Bitcoin futures contracts that would allow them to bet on their prices without actually holding them, and also to bet on prices falling. This will inevitably lead to a crash, stakeholders feel.
How about investing temporarily?
There are several concerns, including security. As bitcoins rose steeply, hackers stole $70mn in bitcoins from the cryptocurrency-mining service NiceHash. NiceHash admitted "the full scope of what happened isn't yet known" and urged users to change passwords. It has suspended operations for 24 hours.
If you still feel like investing
In India, the RBI has warned against risks, but hasn't banned bitcoins. First choose a "wallet": there's Unicoin, Bitxoxo, Zebpay, Coinbase etc. You have to register yourself by creating an account on Bitcoin service-providers, which will let you buy, sell, store, trade and accept Bitcoins. Exchanges may have KYC requirement. Be cautious: a government panel earlier advised the Centre to shut down cryptocurrency dealers/exchanges.