Pluses and pitfalls of bitcoin trading

Pluses and pitfalls of bitcoin trading
Not many merchants accept bitcoin payment in Singapore. The Sunday Times found three that do – Hospoda Brewery (above), Artistry Cafe and Cad Cafe. Artistry Cafe accepts payment in bitcoins. To conduct a transaction, customers pay from their storage currency applications such as bitcoinSpinner and bitcoin Wallet.

Singaporeans are usually at the forefront of anything tech, but bitcoins is one fad that has just not clicked.

The virtual currency started by an anonymous group in 2009 has certainly been making waves elsewhere, but people here seem to regard it as just too risky, too hard to get your head around.

There is some truth to both claims.

Bitcoins do not belong to any country and are not issued by a central bank. Instead, the value is driven purely by supply and demand.

Its creators devised a computer programme to limit the supply to 21 million units.

There are about 12.1 million in circulation today, according to bitcoincharts, a website that tracks the currency’s activity.

One unit of this cybermoney was worth about US$1 in 2011, but the value shot up to more than US$1,000 (S$1,270) last month on trading platform Mt.Gox, one of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges. The astronomical increase sparked concerns of an asset bubble forming.

A recent report cited how US$5 billion of bitcoin value was wiped out in an hour when China’s central bank banned financial institutions from dealing with the currency earlier this month.

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