Montana securities commissioner warns of Bitcoin risks
MISSOULA, Mont. - On Thursday Montana Securities Commissioner Monica Lindeen put out an investor advisory urging Motnanans to consider the risks that come with virtual currencies like Bitcoin before jumping in. Bitcoin is a digital currency created in 2009. It's popular among techies, investors, libertarians and other people who want to exchange money without involving banks or governments. Some have made a lot of money by buying Bitcoin at low rates and cashing in when the values skyrocket. Lindeen's advisory cautions that virtual currency is subject to minimal regulation, susceptible to cyber attacks, and not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Lindeen also says investors in virtual currency will have to rely on unregulated companies that may not have the right internal controls, and also that investors will have to use security software and other systems to guard e-Wallets from theft. "We do know that Bitcoin is becoming more popular, and frankly we kind of want to get out in front of it and give people the information at the front end before they get into the virtual currency investing," said Jennifer McKee, spokeswoman for Lindeen. On Thursday NBC Montana met with a Missoula man who nearly made half a million dollars through Bitcoin, but didn't end up taking the step to invest. "When I first looked at the Bitcoin it was running at about $8 a Bitcoin, and I slowly watched it bump up to about $20 a Bitcoin, and I thought about investing right there," said Gibbs. Ultimately, the Bitcoin value became too high when accounting for the risks. Gibbs hasn't completely lost faith in the currency though. He says if it hits $100 again he may invest in a couple Bitcoins, but he'll watch them closely. "The Bitcoin has gone up and crashed twice now, and we're looking at the third run, and so it's either going to peak or disappear," said Gibbs.