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I may take some heat for this post.

Conversely, I may find some like-minded friends, or even motivate others to do some research on the topic.

Here goes.

I bought some Bitcoin.

Then I bought some alt cryptocurrencies: Steem, BAT, Stratis and DigiByte.

Yes, I did.

My portfolio is up, but I won’t say how much, in case the IRS is reading this post.

Bitcoin is not at all new.  It dates back to 2009.  For the past 8 years I mostly spoke poorly about it, saying it was a fad and that it was completely ridiculous to think it could be secure, given the amount of hacking and data theft that happens online.

Then I joined a Facebook group for Translators and Interpreters.  Fridays were “Finance Fridays,” with posts looking to help the freelancer set financial goals, maintain sound financial practices, etc.  As an industry, we tend to be word people – focused on form and accuracy, not necessarily on profit and loss statements.  The group’s creator, Andrew Morris, began playing with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and other start-up crypto coins.  Some Finance Friday posts moved to cryptocurrency talk.

Bitcoin and other alt coins tend to elicit either strongly positive, or more frequently, strongly negative reactions.  Kind of like mine up until this point.  The original Facebook group started expressing negative responses to crypto posts.  So Andrew Morris spun off a new Facebook group, for translators and interpreters interested in learning more about cryptocurrencies.  Of course I joined the group.  These were some seriously smart people, and the stories they were telling were very interesting.

As a result, I signed up for a few online courses in cryptos.  I learned about the blockchain, the thing that I could not have imagined when I trashed digital currency as so totally hackable.  I read up on alt coins.  I delayed.  I asked for advice from friends and family whose opinion I value.  I delayed.  I kept up with the Facebook group.  I delayed.

And then I bought in.  I told myself I would start with what I was willing to lose.  In one month I am up, at an unbelievable percentage.

Cryptocurrencies feel like the internet back in the early 90s. I remember a friend at a larger institution asking me back in 1993 or 1994 if I had “email,” so she could “email me.”  I saw no value whatsoever in that.  “Write or call,” I thought.  HA!

Cryptocurrencies also feel like Uber and Lyft, completely up-ending the taxi industry.  Who could have imagined we could travel that way?  For that matter, who could have imagined we could store all of our music not on vinyl or cassette or CD, but on our phones, the phones that no longer need a cord?

Yes, cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile – you have to know that from the get go.  If you watch your portfolio day to day, you will go through severe highs and lows.  When I first bought my Bitcoin, the starting point for any “wallet,” the price dropped, and I was a loser in 10 hours.

Over the long haul, however, cryptos look like a sound retirement plan.  So many people are entirely unaware of them, or like I used to do, discount them without truly understanding how and why they work.  Digital payment makes sense: let’s remove the banks and their fees from the equation.  Eliminating the need to exchange from one currency to another makes sense:  no more changing euros to dollars, yen to pounds.  When the world wakes up, as it did in the 90s, buying home computers and internet access, this is an industry that will explode.

So there you have it.  I find the cryptocurrency world entirely and utterly fascinating.

Are you in?

About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!

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