by Drake B. Meyer
With any new technology, fortunes can be made or lost depending on where you fall in the adoption curve. The internet, the dot-com bubble, smartphones, apps, and social media are perfect examples of technological advances that have shaped the world and left many kicking themselves for not investing in the idea when they first heard about it. Now many ask if the Bitcoin, crypto, and blockchain buzzwords they hear are the next opportunity to get in early and gain wealth. Blockchain and Bitcoin have been around for over 14 years, yet only an estimated 13-16% of Americans have owned crypto. Does this leave an opportunity to still “get in early”? Possibly, as there can be expanded use of technology beyond “currency.”
However, many still don’t fully understand the technology and it is important to be cautious when entering unfamiliar waters. As with other technologies that excelled, there are plenty that never took off or went bust like Laserdisc or Zune. The other concern is when technology becomes obsolete like VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. This is not to say you must be an expert in space before becoming involved. I am not a mechanic, pilot, or doctor, but I still actively drive a car, fly, and take medicine without fully understanding the technology. As with anything, it is important to exercise due diligence before putting money into anything new and understand potential risks. We trust in many things because of either government regulation or incentives for private business to ensure it works properly.
In brief, the blockchain underlying most crypto is a digital ledger kept by numerous decentralized computers which solve formulas to validate the authenticity of transactions and add them to “blocks” on the chain. This ledger is secure due to the large number of independent sources validating each transaction and maintaining the chain which may be reviewed at any time by anyone. This concept of decentralization is what helped drive its popularity following the great recession of 2008 and why some feel it can be trusted due to it not being under the control of one entity or government.
Crypto regulation has been slow to be adopted and this has led to, although warranted, perceived risks. There are numerous types of crypto and as with the dot-com bubble, there are some that are busts or shams.
Currently, crypto is being regulated using existing securities, tax, and commodity laws. To date, Bitcoin is classified as property like a commodity and not a security while other cryptocurrencies have been considered securities.
Generally, any gains earned as a result of buying crypto will be taxed similarly to stock in the form of capital gains, but it is important to always work with accountants or attorneys for specific instances.
So, is crypto and blockchain like the internet that will be here to stay? Or will it be more like VHS and DVDs that have come and gone? Only time will tell.
Go to https://beyondthefineprint.com/topics/cryptocurrency-and- digital-assets/ for a more in-depth look into blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Drake B. Meyer, business law attorney with Danna McKitrick, P.C., advises clients on a variety of corporate and business transactions including entrepreneurial, real estate, and corporate formation and governance matters. He also represents individuals and businesses in litigation related to contracts, real estate, and other civil matters. Drake can be reached at 314.889.7161 or email@example.com.