KSL INVESTIGATES

Gephardt: Is Cryptocurrency Actually A Viable ‘Currency’?

May 6, 2021, 10:10 PM | Updated: May 7, 2021, 7:41 am

MIDVALE, Utah – Bitcoin. Dogecoin. Ether. Digital dollar options are expanding. Their volatile values are setting record highs and lows. As more companies accept digital currency, are people actually spending it?

Spending Cryptocurrency

Bernie and Brothers Barber Co. in Midvale will take cash, cards, or if you like, Bitcoin.

“It’s the currency of the future,” said owner and barber, Bernie Hiett. “I wanted to be the first on it!”

Hiett loves the idea of cryptocurrency and its decentralized nature, specifically the part that allows her and her patrons to cut out the middleman.

“You’re not really paying a bank or a credit card processor – anything like that,” she explained. “So, it’s a good way to kind of skip that.”

Cryptocurrency is sort of like cash, but instead of handing off a dollar bill, you hand off a piece of computer code. Unlike a dollar, which has a fixed value, crypto is decentralized, meaning it is not tied to any physical coins or bills and there is no central authority overseeing its value.

So how much is a bitcoin worth?

Volatile Values

Good question, as we discovered when we tried to pay Bernie and Brothers the equivalent of $10.

In the time it took to open a cryptocurrency exchange app, scan a QR code and click send, the value went up by $0.07 – almost a 1% increase in just 90 seconds.

That volatility is the reason you have been hearing a lot about cryptocurrencies lately.

On April 1, 2020, a single bitcoin was worth $6,671 according to CoinDesk. By April 15 of this year, its value shot up nearly tenfold to $63,346. That value plunged to $48,542 just 10 days later.

While 7 extra cents on a $10 transaction isn’t a big deal, such flux does make cryptocurrency tough to spend.

Which begs the question: Is cryptocurrency really a practical currency?

“That has definitely dampened its adoption for currency purposes, like for paying for haircuts, buying pizzas and buying real estate,” said Scott Condie, associate professor of economics at Brigham Young University. “When someone gives you cryptocurrency, you don’t have a good sense for exactly what that will buy five minutes from now, or an hour from now, or a week from now,” he explained.

Investment vs. Currency Condie sees cryptocurrencies more as a long-term investment than a currency.

Most Bitcoin owners seem to agree. A recent MoneyMagnify survey found 62% of people who have cryptocurrency believe it is their ticket to wealth. Still, if you want to use it as a practical currency, no question – more companies will take it, including Starbucks, Tesla, and even Utah’s own Overstock.com, which has accepted it for years.

“I do think Bitcoin is a viable currency,” said Overstock CEO Jonathan Johnson.

“At Overstock, we see people using it every day.” Though Johnson admitted, it is not a lot of people. “It is still a very small percentage of our sales, about a quarter of 1%,” he said.

Johnson explained the number of people buying their furniture, appliances, and other goods in Bitcoin fluctuates with the cryptocurrency market itself.

As its value drops, people spend the digital currency. When the value skyrockets – not so much.

“People view it as an investment holding, and I think they are hesitant to spend it because they want it to go up,” he said.

Exactly how many customers have paid with Bitcoin at Bernie and Brothers barbershop? Two, if you count me. Still, Hiett remains a believer that crypto will be a mainstream currency in the not-too-distant future.

“I think it will be pretty commonplace at some point,” she said. “It’s a workable currency right now so I don’t see why you wouldn’t take it.”

One thing you should know: If you decide to buy into cryptocurrency, you will get a key – a password of sorts.

If you forget it, tough.

In fact, a recent analysis by the cryptocurrency-data firm Chainalysis found $140 billion worth in bitcoin could be lost forever, due to forgotten passwords.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

A rendering of a cell site simulator. (KSL TV)...
Daniella Rivera and Annie Knox

Utah placed limits on police use of spy tech; Do they go far enough?  

For months, the KSL Investigators have been asking questions about spy technology law enforcement uses but doesn’t want to talk about. What exactly does the high-tech tool do, and what happens to your information if it gets caught up in a digital dragnet?
4 days ago
FILE PHOTO - Shown are a smartphone and computer....
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Why you should stop using your work computers, phones for personal use

Many Utahns are still working from home, spending a lot of time on their work computers. That can make it easy to forget it's not a personal computer. But KSL's Matt Gephardt has three reasons why you should use your work computers for one thing — work.
4 days ago
fireworks injuries study...
Matt Gephardt

Study: More people need E.R. care after playing with fireworks

A report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission may throw a wet blanket on your 4th of July plans – or at least make you think about bringing a wet blanket with you just in case your family’s celebration adds to a troubling trend.
6 days ago
Peter Ingle talking to Matt Gephardt...
Matt Gephardt & Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Too risky to insure? Why your homeowner’s insurance could go up in smoke

There are good reasons for an insurance company to drop your homeowner’s coverage. But what happens when you’re dropped for something you have no control over? KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt went out to find: can they do that?
7 days ago
FILE - Thousand gather at the Utah State Capitol to support a woman's right to choose. (KSL TV)...
Daniella Rivera

‘It was hastily passed’: Medical, legal experts raise concerns about Utah’s abortion trigger law

Senate Bill 174, passed by the Utah Legislature in 2020, was crafted, in part, to send a message. Now, medical and legal experts are sounding alarm bells about how it will work in practice.
10 days ago
FILE - Credit and deposit cards on a computer keyboard. Electronic commerce, business. Online shopp...
Matt Gephardt

Gephardt Busts Inflation: Americans shy away from using credit cards abroad, missing out on best exchange rates

As COVID-19 wanes, travel agencies are seeing a massive spike in bookings as folks look to spread their wings and travel abroad.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Gephardt: Is Cryptocurrency Actually A Viable ‘Currency’?