If there’s one regret any Bitcoin investor has, it’s not becoming wise to the potential of the cryptocurrency sooner than they did. Those that had the vision to invest at the start – even with just a small amount – are now very rich. Apart from relatively minor fluctuations, Bitcoin’s value has risen over 300% in the last year alone.
There’s no way of being totally sure who has made the most – that’s one feature of a purely digital cryptocurrency – although it’s unsurprising that many of the major investors weren’t strangers to investing. The untraceable nature of Bitcoin has made it attractive to a variety of investors, particularly those keen to ‘hide’ a proportion of their assets from the taxman, for legal reasons or – unfortunately – for criminal activity.
The Seized Assets
The most notable downside of a digital currency that’s untraceable is the attraction that holds for criminals. The most notable recent example was the worldwide spread of the Wannacry virus, which afflicted National Health Service IT systems in the UK particularly badly, leading Primary Care Trusts to cancel elective surgery, and even close admissions to all but the most urgent cases. The hackers asked for their ransom in Bitcoin, and as a consequence, have so far not been traced.
On the upside for the Bitcoin investor, that does mean that there are – or at least were – bargains to be had from auctions of seized assets where criminals have been traced and convicted. The blocks of Bitcoin available tend to be relatively small, but nevertheless, when looked at in terms of a 300% increase, even a small purchase can represent a considerable investment. In 2014, Tim Draper, a Venture Capitalist, won 30,000 Bitcoins at one such auction, which sold on assets which had been seized from a convicted drug dealer. The market price then was around $600 per Bitcoin, meaning that they’re worth around $7 million at the time of writing.
Charlie Shrem was once a member of the Bitcoin Foundation, supposedly governing the use of Bitcoin. However, the Bitcoin Foundation also notoriously became synonymous with criminal activity, and Shrem ended up serving a two-year prison sentence for money laundering.
However, it’s thought he still owns Bitcoin numbering in the thousands, acquired when they were only $3 each; something that is perhaps confirmed by his latest venture, a startup involving cryptocurrency investments.
The United States
There’s still money to be made from Bitcoin, clearly, and there’s no indication yet that its value is set to permanently decrease – that’s why the US government is trying to identify investors to reclaim capital gains tax. The current legal wrangle with Coinbase over releasing details of customer accounts is ongoing, but when you consider only 802 people declared income from Bitcoin in 2015, it’s a revenue area missed. Especially coupled with the fact that in 2015, Bitcoin’s value was only $13.
Although Republicans in Congress have told the IRS to back off, it’s worth bearing in mind that old saying about death and taxes.