Bitcoin, the volatile cryptocurrency created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto (likely a pseudonym), has taken investors on one hell of a roller coaster ride since its inception in 2009. From its humble beginnings and non-existent value to its late-2013 surge of more than $1,200 per unit and subsequent drop, it’s been an interesting experiment to say the least.
Investors with funds tied up in the virtual currency, however, have had to deal with far more than a volatile value.
Tyler Moore, assistant professor of cyber security at the University of Tulsa's Tandy School of Computer Science, tells Reuters that since its debut in 2009 through March 2015, a full third of all Bitcoin exchanges operational during that time were hacked. And because they all operate differently (and are unregulated), they all have different policies on what happens to customers’ funds in the event of a breach.
To put the figure into perspective, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse notes that of the 6,000 banks operational in the US during the same period, only 67 experienced a publicly-disclosed data breach, or around one percent.
Moore’s report also found that, during the same period, a whopping 48 percent of Bitcoin exchanges shut down.
Richard Johnson, vice president of market structure and technology at Greenwich Associates, told the publication that a 48 percent closure rate is not acceptable although not surprising given that Bitcoin is such a new technology.
As always, one shouldn’t invest in anything unless they fully understand the nature of the investment and the risks associated with it. And as the old saying goes, it’s never wise to put all of your eggs in one basket (translation - diversification is your friend).