The Merkle

The Top 6 Questions Your Family Will Ask You About Crypto This Holiday

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies’ recent meteoric rise (and subsequent retracement) has gotten the attention of many. People who had never heard of Bitcoin before or had previously disregarded it are interested and asking questions. Unfortunately for you, some of those people are likely going to be your family members at holiday gatherings, and most of them probably still have no idea what they are actually asking.

These are the questions you may face, and while this article is a little fun, it is important to remember that if someone is asking you about it – even if they don’t know what they are talking about – they may genuinely want to learn more. Be a cryptocurrency evangelist; better information makes for a better community.

1. Where can I buy cryptocurrency?

While this question may have been way less common before, you can almost guarantee that it is going to come up now. Aunts and uncles, cousins, and siblings all may have heard you talk about cryptocurrency at some point in the past, and now with its recent price action, they want in. When I get this question, I assess the technical literacy of the individual asking before I make a suggestion. If they are something of a Luddite, I usually suggest something rather easy like Coinbase. If they are a bit more capable, I’ll suggest something closer to GDAX.

Regardless of the suggestion I make, I always tell them to get a wallet of which they hold the private keys.

2. Is it illegal?

Depending on where you live, the answer to this question is most likely “no.” However, due to its spotted past and media campaigns to shine a lackluster light on it, cryptocurrency does still have a bit of a stigma associated with it. Babcia (the Polish word for “grandmother”) may not keep up with the most accurate or current news, and will probably be pleased to know that you’re not a criminal just for holding Bitcoin.

3. Can’t it be stolen easily?

These conversations will always come back to security, inevitably. In light of the man who threw away his hard drive worth millions of dollars, Mt. Gox, or hackers stealing hot wallet funds from various websites, someone is going to claim that this means the entire network is insecure and holding any Bitcoin is a disaster waiting to happen.

Luckily, explaining the distinction between public versus private keys as well as how practicing good information security can mitigate against all of these risks is not too hard, and there are boundless resources on the Internet to help you answer this question or point your relatives in the right direction.

4. Can I buy a cup of coffee with it?

This question can open an unnecessary can of worms. You can just kindly explain that the onus of what a merchant is willing to accept as payment is solely on the merchant. Job done.

5. Who made Bitcoin?

Obviously just tell them that Satoshi Nakamoto is anonymous, but that ultimately who created it does not matter. You could also point to the fact that its performance, despite having a known creator, is only a validation of its value.

6. How about a loan?

I mention this last one jokingly, but some members of your family may think that you are some crypto-billionaire now. Whether or not that is true depends on who you are, but the majority of us certainly are not. My best response to “how many Bitcoin do you have?” has been “not nearly enough.” Feel free to take that. 

I hope our readers have a nice, relaxing holiday and a happy new year.