An Unsuccessful Bitcoin Millionaire

Reading through the headlines last week, I came across an interesting piece about how an economists believes that bitcoin may not be a massive bubble waiting to burst after all. Not of much interest to me, yet I kept on. Then, the wheels in my memory began to whir...

When I was a bright young thing, I had managed to acquire a Visa Debit card, which was, in those days, a very uncommon thing indeed. It was my first opportunity to buy goods online and with little sense of fiscal responsibility, I loaded the last $20 out of my bank account and onto this shady bit of plastic. There was but one slight problem: I couldn't afford anything interesting.

What's a floating eye to do? Well, discouraged, I loaded up all of my feeds and went in search of a quick dopamine hit. That's when it happened, I landed on Hacker News, and the price of something called bitcoin was emblazoned across the top entry. It was trading at $0.02, which seemed exciting to all of the anonymous commenters on HN.

I didn't have a sense of where bitcoin would go, let alone a firm grasp of what it was, nor what it could be used for—have I mentioned my fiscal irresponsibility? I found somewhere to purchase my first bitcoins and carefully typed my Visa Debit details into the purchase form. Now for the hard question: how many of these little doodles should I buy? All $20 worth was where I ended up.

Purchase. Purchase. Purchase. Nothing.

The form wouldn't process. And in a brilliant show of resiliance, I closed my laptop and forgot about the whole ordeal. Until now that is.

If you're having trouble with the math, I would have ended up with roughly 1,000 bitcoin from that transaction had it processed correctly. Last I checked, one single bitcoin was trading at $1191.14 USD (taken on 2017-03-12 11:44am). That equates to well above $1,000,000 USD. Queue the sound of a tiny violin.

Now, there's a fair chance I wouldn't have held on to those precious digital gems until today. I probably would have panicked and sold them all during the first boom. If I hadn't, I more than likely would have lost it during the Mt. Geox catastrophe. Heck, even if I did escape with them, what foolish things would I have ended up wasting that money on? Jet-skis anyone? What about cloud insurance?

The comparison between my situation and the, “If only you had bought Apple stock instead of that original iPod/iPhone/Apple II FX/whatever, you'd be rich” camp is apt, but I can't help but feel a deeper pit in my stomach because this was a financial decision I actually tried to make. Not a thought experiment to show catalyse an understanding of a company's tremendous growth.

It is a funny thing in hindsight, to imagine myself a young millionaire, an undeserving lottery winner. Party guests, enjoy the story and I get an opportunity to kick the tires on a reality that never was. How's that for a quick dopamine kick?


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