The Merkle

Should I Give Cryptocurrency as a Gift?

Many of you may have had friends and family asking about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies since their meteoric rise this past year. Even after you answered their questions, many of these people probably did not buy in. Perhaps they didn’t see its value, or perhaps they were scared by prices and volatility. If they won’t buy it, some may have wondered if giving crypto as a holiday gift is a good idea. Maybe not, I would argue.

If it’s a small amount, definitely not bitcoin

Perhaps the granddaddy of all crypto will always be Bitcoin. Even though it is well above US$15K a coin, many still believe it is still severely undervalued. However, Bitcoin can still pose many problems for gifts that are smaller.

For example, my group of friends largely has about a twenty dollar limit for gifts. This is not because we are cheap, but rather that there are many of us. Between gifts for family and friends, it can rack up. For this reason, I would never get my friends Bitcoin at this time. The fees are just too high, and I would not feel comfortable stranding their gift in a paper wallet, telling them, “Maybe one day the fees will be low enough to move that twenty.”

Now, Dogecoin as a smaller denomination gift might be a different story…

If they aren’t technically savvy

Let’s face it. With cryptocurrencies, money is now technology. Currently, cryptos are not all that user-friendly. There are horror stories of people losing millions of dollars by throwing away hard drives, forgetting keys, and letting other forms of data decay ruin their holdings. This, coupled with the various scams and other pitfalls for the non-tech literate population, makes crypto potentially more of a hassle than it’s worth for some gift recipients. They may not thank you, and they may just be needlessly confused about what a private key is, why their public key is so hard to remember, or why the paper wallet you gave them has two QR codes on it.

Even with detailed instruction, many recipients may not know what the heck to do with themselves or, worse, may not understand that throwing away that paper wallet or not backing up mobile wallets can effectively lower the circulating supply of cryptocurrencies.

But if you just have to get someone a cryptocurrency-related item…

Buy them a book about it

The best way to get people into this space is by educating them. Talk with them, take them out to dinner, but most importantly, provide them with tools for self-education. For this, I recommend books and a PDF of the Bitcoin whitepaper. If they’re a visual or an audio learner, maybe send them a link to Andreas Antonopoulos’s YouTube channel. Better yet, watch those videos with them. Cryptocurrency is about community and education. Helping someone see the value in it beyond the skyrocketing prices will help them be a more loyal and enthusiastic user. That’s good for all of us, but especially them.

In short: Give your friends and family the gift of your cryptocurrency knowledge, and let them make the decision to buy or not to buy on their own. Forcing cryptocurrency upon someone who cannot use it or does not want it is less than ideal for everyone.