Doris did the math quickly in her head. “That’s twelve dollars a day!” she said. Do you think you can do it?”
Amelia Bedelia thought it over for at least half a second. Then she gave Doris a thumbs-up and Pete her firmest handshake ever. “You’ve got a deal!”
from: Amelia Bedelia Means Business
written by Herman Parish
illustrated by Lynne Avril
Greenwillow Books, 2013
I’ve always been pretty good at saving money. My grandfather kept his money in a bank and encouraged us kids to, too. Back in the day, banks gave their customers a premium (a token gift that who really wanted, anyway? like etched glasses with the name of the bank on them, or steak knives with wooden handles).
I never had enough money at one time to “earn” a premium, but my grandpa taught me about interest, the money the bank paid me for letting them use my account. I was little, and I didn’t get how they used it. Giving it to someone else to buy a house didn’t make sense to my six-year-old brain. Grandpa never got into the other half of the interest equation where the house-buying customer paid the bank for using their money, which when you think about it could have been mine.
When I was old enough to have a job, I opened up my own checking account. My parents taught me how to spend within my means. Even with my math issues, arithmetic and I get along okay. My checkbook is always in balance, but these days, I write less and less checks. I’ve gotten used to automatic deposits and payments. I use an automated phone service to pay my credit card bill, but I draw the line at virtual money. What is that, even?
Elon Musk, started PayPal. Yep, the SpaceX and Tesla guy. In the mid 1990s, he started a computerized map-making platform used by marketers to find potential customers. Mr. Musk earned his first millions when Compaq, the computer manufacturer, bought his company. Musk used his earnings to start an online financial services company, X.com. In 2000, he bought Confinnity, another financial company and rebranded the merger PayPal.
PayPal is not a bank. A PayPal account is a holding place for money, like a bank account. The advantage for the account holder is to keep personal information private, away from sellers, whether buying from a company like Amazon or a seller on eBay. The buyer uses a debit or credit card to put money into a PayPal account and the seller uses an access number to receive payment, in an instant. PayPal boasts 73 million users.
Enter bitcoin. It’s been around since 2008. Other types quickly followed its example. Now, about four thousand types of cryptcurrency exist in the marketplace.
Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies managed through advanced encryption techniques and maintained by a group of volunteers. The privacy factor is strong, but if you lose your bitcoin through a hack or theft, it’s gone. With no recourse. And, if you buy something, it’s yours. No returns.
Truth is, I got a little lost in my bitcoin/altcoin research. I don’t understand it very much better than I did before. We’ll use bitcoin as an example. Two distinct aspects make up this type of virtual currency.
Here’s the best explanation I found, directly from coindesk.com
“Bitcoin-the-token is a snippet of code that represents ownership of a digital concept – sort of like a virtual IOU. Bitcoin-the-protocol is a distributed network that maintains a ledger of balances of bitcoin-the-token.
“The system enables payments to be sent between users without passing through a central authority, such as a bank or payment gateway. It is created and held electronically. Bitcoins aren’t printed, like dollars or euros – they’re produced by computers all around the world, using free software. Bitcoin can be used to pay for things electronically, if both parties are willing.”
So it’s virtual money, but real. It’s like PayPal because it acts as a third party for buying stuff. But you can buy cryptocurrency. It is encrypted and safe. Problem is, it is worth what the fluctuating market says it is worth. And the price fluctuates. A lot.
As of 5:30 (in Ohio) this morning (5/14/19) one bitcoin is worth $8,129.04. Twenty-four hours ago it was worth $7,105.90. Here’s a chart to show you minute by minute fluctuations. https://www.coindesk.com/price/bitcoin
Some say it is better to buy bitcoin, say, and keep it, an investment. Because who knows what it will be worth when you want to buy something? According to coindesk’s article from January, 2018, bitcoin is accepted many places. https://www.coindesk.com/information/what-can-you-buy-with-bitcoins .
As for me, I like the concrete sound and touch of those little metal coins jingling in my pocket. I like paying for my stuff at a store with foldable bills. Checks and credit cards and on-line shopping are all okay, too, but where money is concerned, I’m pretty hands-on.
Literally, a little like Amelia Bedelia.
-—stay curious! (and practical)