MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Bitcoin hit a record high on Friday, and the value of the cryptocurrency only rose more than 80% this year.
In the West Seventh neighborhood of St. Paul there is a somewhat cryptic billboard that says “A Peaceful Revolution” and a $ 1 bill that says “A Decentralized Network.”
The only distinguishing feature is a Twitter account, the aim of which is to raise awareness about Bitcoin.
At Bobby and Steves Auto World in downtown Minneapolis, where there is a Bitcoin ATM, they’ll tell you that awareness is already pretty high. Dawn Villiard works there as an office manager.
“It’s been very popular since we installed the machine about a year and a half ago,” said Villiard. “We have some regular customers who come here and invest.”
But what exactly are they investing in? Bitcoin is a digital form of money. Professor Vivian Fang of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management says cryptocurrencies are based on a digital infrastructure known as blockchain.
“[Advocates] I want a fully decentralized system to achieve absolute freedom from central clearing financial institutions [like banks] or a government, ”said Fang.
READ MORE: Good Question: How Does Bitcoin Work?
Bitcoin can be spent in a handful of ways like normal money, but many people consider it an investment. Adam Suhr owns Dogecoin, another cryptocurrency, and says he hopes to become a millionaire and retire.
“It’s a little more stable than the lottery,” said Suhr. “In the worst case scenario, I can pull it out again if it falls to half the value I invested in.”
There are dozens of Bitcoin ATMs on the Twin Cities Metro. Customers enter money to buy the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s value has more than doubled in the past three months.
As with any investment, the dizzying heights come with risks. The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned on Monday of the extreme price movements of Bitcoin, calling it an “extremely inefficient way to invest”.
“For anyone thinking of investing in Bitcoin, he or she should be able to swallow that volatility. I think my advice would be not to put all your eggs in one basket,” said Fang.
Bitcoin has become more mainstream lately, as some of its investors have shown. Tesla bought more than $ 1 billion and CEO Elon Musk says the electric car company will accept bitcoin as a form of payment.