It’s the hottest investment of the year. But be careful buying it.
That’s the view of several thousand Yahoo Finance readers who took our recent survey on bitcoin, the digital currency that’s up nearly 600% in value this year. We started by asking poll-takers whether they had ever purchased bitcoin or not, then asking what buyers and non-buyers think about it. Of more than 6,300 respondents, 23% said they had purchased bitcoin and 20% still held some. More than half of those bitcoin buyers didn’t start purchasing it until this year.
[See our full survey results here. Questions 2 through 8 were for people who have purchased bitcoin. The remaining questions were for all respondents.]
Seventy-one percent of bitcoin buyers told us they’ve made money, while 8% said they’ve lost money. The median gain was $3,000, while the median loss was $500. That reflects bitcoin’s volatile history. Overall, the currency has soared in value since being launched in 2009. But there have been some wild ups and downs, and anybody needing to sell during a downswing could easily have lost money.
Nearly one-quarter of bitcoin buyers said the investment has changed their lives — mainly by making them wealthier on paper and giving them more money to spend. Nearly 12% of bitcoin buyers said they’ve made enough money to quit their jobs.
The cryptocurrency remains appealing. Of bitcoin holders, 56% plan to buy more, while 15% say they’re done buying. Of respondents who don’t own bitcoin, 11% say they plan to buy, and 38% say they’re thinking about it.
Overall, 56% of investors think bitcoin is overvalued. But there’s a huge split between players and sideline-dwellers. Among investors who plan to buy bitcoin, only 15% think it’s overvalued. Among those who don’t plan to buy, 56% say it’s overvalued. Those views reflect an obvious truism, since investors aren’t likely to purchase something they think is overvalued.
But they also reflect confusion over where bitcoin is headed, what its true value is, and what it’s even good for. In the poll, only 4% of bitcoin buyers say they use it mainly as a currency for buying stuff, while 53% said they view it strictly as an investment. Thirty-seven percent said they use it for both.
Investors aren’t even sure bitcoin will survive. Just 36% of all respondents think bitcoin will still be around in 10 years, with 34% saying they don’t think it will last that long. Thirty percent aren’t sure. That’s probably the safest way to think about it.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman