[Matthew Apgar / Daily Chronicle]
The staggering price appreciation of Bitcoin, one of the most common forms of cryptocurrency, prompted Dustin Gurnitz of DeKalb to make a $40 investment in Bitcoin in November.
Gurnitz said that he feels comfortable enough in the currency to let it play out – and the amount he stands to lose is relatively small, anyway.
“I don’t see [a bubble crash] happening in the near future, but I think there’s a possibility of it happening at some point,” Gurnitz said.
Bitcoin was the first "cryptocurrency," so called because it uses cryptography to secure online transactions in a complex and continually growing list of records called a blockchain. Computer operators who add to the blockchain – can be rewarded with Bitcoin.
Buying Bitcoin is one of the ways consumers have been investing in cryptocurrency. But whether Gurnitz's 0.003 percent of a Bitcoin is liquid enough to sell is uncertain.
In 2009, when Bitcoin was created, it might have been a wise investment for the average consumer if they were planning on mining it.
Any standard PC could have undertaken the process of Bitcoin mining, which involves adding transaction data to the currency's global public ledger – the blockchain – for profit.
Despite the skyrocketing prices of the digital currency, however, the computations required to make Bitcoin lucrative have become so complex that the average person is more likely to win the lottery than to earn a major payout through Bitcoin mining, said David Gunkel, director of graduate studies at Northern Illinois University's Department of Communication.
"Early on, [Bitcoin mining] was easy, and the bar to get involved was very low," Gunkel said. "Now, if you want to do [mining], you'll need a garage full of CPUs with a full A/C unit. The computers would have to run constantly with internet and electricity connections. It's not only an initial investment, but an ongoing payment for energy and operating costs."