In the first of a brand new series, we invited Matthew Baldock, Digital Currency Consultant for Portsmouth Crypto and Co-Founder of BitStashers, to the Adastra offices for a chat on all things Bitcoin and how its meteoric rise has led to some very expensive nights out.
How did you first get into Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies?
Five years ago I started reading a lot about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies online and it fascinated me. I had always had an interest in economics and technology, and this looked like a great way to combine too of my passions. I looked into what bitcoin was and thought I spotted the potential for the technology to grow, and as I read more and more on the topic I was sucked in. In 2013 I started to take it seriously, and once it hit £15 per BTC I started investing and managed to catch the first major bubble up to £800.
“Last year I spent something like 5 BTC on some nights out, which I regret a bit now because that’s the equivalent of 30-40k at today’s exchange rates. They were good nights out, but I’m not sure they were quite that good.”
Do you use cryptocurrency in your day to day life?
I use it pretty often, but more recently because of the increasing fees I have stopped using it for every little thing. I still use Bitcoin to pay my bills with people I know will accept it, but there was a point where I was using it for leisure as well. So, buying DVDs and even to pay for nights out. Last year I spent something like 5 BTC on some nights out, which I regret a bit now because that’s the equivalent of £30-40k at today’s exchange rates. They were good nights out, but I’m not sure they were quite that good.
Why did you choose to make the leap from fiat to cryptocurrencies?
The fiat system is only 40 years old and was suited to the time of its creation, but now when you look at it Cryptocurrency is far more suited to the digital age we find ourselves living in. The antiquated fiat system makes no sense now, and not only that, the fiat system can’t last forever, so now is the perfect time to make the jump to crypto. I have tried my best to embrace this future, live on cryptocurrencies and just do something that’s a bit different.
How would you convince a crypto-sceptic to make the switch or invest in crypto?
There was a banker on Twitter the other day and a few people asked him: “what do you think of bitcoin, you must love it right?”
He came back with: “No, there’s no way I’d risk my money in something that I don’t understand and that is so volatile”.
I replied to him with the point that depending on your risk tolerance it is worth a little punt from an investment point of view. I mean for the cost of one beer a month you give yourself the chance of winning the Bitcoin lottery.
I’d much rather people embraced it for ideological reasons or technological reasons but most of the time it’s the greed element that piques peoples interest, knowing that they can potentially make a lot of money in a short space of time.
“I think what is bringing the every day people into it is the potential wealth creation and an opportunity to own a little piece of the future.”
Interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain is growing, why do you think that is?
Speculation is a huge part of the growth, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is the driving force behind a lot of people getting involved now. Technologists, economists and the libertarians were already well involved and the ones that are laying the foundations to allow it to grow even further, but I think what is bringing the every day people into it is the potential wealth creation and an opportunity to own a little piece of the future.
With the price of Bitcoin at an all-time high, do you see the bubble bursting anytime soon?
I see it contracting more than completely bursting. It can never drop to zero because there will always be people like me willing to invest and hoover up the coins when it drops to pennies.
This contraction could be painful though with people sitting on up to 70-80% losses at points, but it is only ever a loss if you sell. I keep going to bed expecting to wake up to a lot less money that I fell asleep with, only to find that I have a lot more money than I fell asleep with. So, when this contraction actually starts to happen is really tough to predict.
What is Portsmouth Crypto and what does it involve?
We started Portsmouth Crypto three years ago with the aim of educating and encouraging adoption of crytocurrencies for people interested in getting involved with the digital currency industry.
The company also provide hardware relating to the Bitcoin market via partnerships with other businesses.
Alongside this we also run education workshops which aims to raise awareness and provide people with the basic knowledge and tools to start making their way in the world of crypto. We offer sessions on everything from the history of altcoins to the basics of Bitcoin mining, with the overall goal to lay the groundwork to grow the Bitcoin and digital currency community.
So far, I have taken this all round the country and the reaction has been largely positive with a lot of good feedback.
Is this a passion project or a genuine business venture?
There is a real passion behind it, but it is very much a business project. I love what I do and everyday I wake up, swing my legs out of bed and hit my computer checking the latest Bitcoin news before I even get myself a coffee. So I love what I do, but the business has always been part of a much bigger goal, and whilst the business continues to grow there is a larger picture being built. I was very lucky to find something that I love doing.
Any predictions for what to look out for in 2018?
Get involved, because if you don’t have some skin in the game then I think you will definitely regret it.