'Just try it': What local experts are saying about the rise in cryptocurrency

Gabriel Scheare has just returned home from spending seven years in Chile where he was working on a real estate project involving cryptocurrency, but it's not his first foray into the digital trend.  In 2013 he was one of the men responsible for the world’s first cryptocurrency kiosk in Vancouver.

Scheare says there was even media attention from Japan as the story spread quickly.

“My friend was in Taiwan at the time.  He came back from his travels and gave me a Taiwanese newspaper and the Sunday front page had me on it,” Scheare said.

Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is transferred through a peer-to-peer network, and transactions appear on a public ledger that is accessible to all who use the currency.

Scheare said his work in Chile was among the first of its kind. He see’s it playing a large role when it comes to similar projects that require money crossing through countries.

“It shines very well in situations like that, where you’re selling to international buyers and there are people moving from all different jurisdictions all over the world and they’re coming down to a central location,” Scheare said.

According to Scheare, the world is due for financial advancement, and the rising popularity of cryptocurrency means big changes could be coming to the way the world deals with currency.

“We used to have the printing press and the written word and carrier pigeons and all that stuff.  Then we had telegrams.  We’ve kind of been stuck in the financial equivalent of telegrams for quite a long time,” Scheare said.

Scheare said kiosks have done a lot in terms of making cryptocurrency more palatable for the common person.

“There’s something about a tangible, physical interface that people can relate to I guess, it's something familiar, whereas crypto is sort of an abstract, intangible, ethereal thing that’s very conceptual,” Scheare told CTV.

Scheare acknowledges that the concept of crypto can be a bit overwhelming at first, but he believes anybody on the fence should just give it a go and see how they like it.

“Just try it, just buy a very small amount.  You can buy five bucks work and play with it.  Just download a wallet to your smartphone, experiment by trading it back and forth for different crypto’s, maybe send it back and fourth between a couple wallets."

Scheare believes the privacy that cryptocurrency can provide can be useful when looking back at times when he believes governments overstepped their bounds.

“The idea that you can just directly attack someone’s account without their consent and things like that, it makes people start to wonder ‘well maybe this isn’t the best way of doing things, maybe there’s a better place to sock away my rainy day fund,’” he said.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Todd McClay, founder and senior investment advisor with Precedence Private Wealth says cryptocurrency is a hot topic as of late, and they have been hearing a lot of interest in digital currency.

“We probably get approached on a weekly basis from customers interested in cryptocurrency, or hearing about cryptocurrency, wondering if they should get into it,” McClay told CTV News.

McClay has good things to say about crypto but he also believes the hype can cause people to jump in without doing their homework first.

“You have to do the research.  It’s amazing how many people will invest money in something on their own based off of a headline, a news article, or a tweet,” McClay said.

“Take the time, learn about it.  Once you do that research then you can make a better decision yourself.  It is a very, very viable asset class,”

McClay said similarities can be drawn between cryptocurrency and a valuable resource that has been traded throughout history.                                                                                                                   

He says the day is coming to Canada where retail businesses could be using crypto the same as our current currency.

“When you start to see it in mainstream retail outlets, restaurants, different things where you can use it as a currency, right now it more of a store of value.” McClay said.

McClay said the popularity is on the rise for cryptocurrencies, and it is already on a path towards making a big impact worldwide.

“It is going to be a wild ride.  Our kids? This is going to be their world.  It’s going to be a lot different.  It’s no different than the internet changed our lives,” McClay told CTV.

HELPING ABROAD

Ed, a former cryptocurrency miner in Saskatchewan, said there is a lot of negativity surrounding cryptocurrency, but he feels that some of the ways people are finding uses for the digital currency are making an impact in people’s lives.

“I know lots of Filipinos in Canada here, they send money back home, but they're paying sometimes up to 10 to 15 per cent to send a transaction of their money, their value back home so their family members can have a better life,” Ed told CTV. 

“With crypto currency you can do that for pennies on the dollar.  Now I think that alone, that one use case can help bring people out of poverty, it can help level paying the field against these massive banks who charge exorbitant fees.”

Ed recently sold his crypto mining equipment when the price of power surpassed his profits, but he still believes in mining, and he feels that the idea that crypto mining is getting a bad rap for being environmentally unfriendly.

“They’re always going to try and find the cheapest power source they can so they can make the most profit.  A lot of stuff is coming out, a smear on cryptocurrency, saying its from “dirty power”,” Ed said.

“There’s a lot of evidence to show that quite a bit of the mining infrastructure, it always gravitates towards the cheapest power, and some of the cheapest power there is, is hydro power and solar power.”