The future of cryptocurrency: Could it replace the US dollar?

Cryptocurrency, which some see as the currency of the future, has had a rough ride lately.

After reaching an all-time high in April, it tanked. Still, many wonder if this form of digital currency might replace the almighty dollar.

Justin Verley’s phone doubles as a wallet. His cards are attached to the back and he doesn’t carry cash – because it’s all inside his phone.

“If there’s ever a chance to use cryptocurrency over the dollar, I’m going to prefer cryptocurrency. Just for speed reasons, for security reasons, for moral reasons, and because I trust it,” he said.

Verley started using crypto over cash in college. He paid for necessities like school supplies and groceries.

Think about it like tokens at an arcade. You exchange a certain amount of dollars for an equivalent amount of tokens. These tokens have a fixed amount when you’re looking to play Skee-Ball. With Bitcoin having a fixed amount, the value fluctuates like stocks.

“I would liken Bitcoin more to a store of value like gold, more like digital gold than a currency, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend it. It’s very spendable. It’s widely accepted around the world and it’s becoming more widely accepted,” Verley said.

The appeal and danger of this form of money are that it’s decentralized, not controlled by a government or bank, which opens the door for illegal activity.

The Colonial Pipeline hackers demanded more than $2 million in cryptocurrency, which they were paid, but to the surprise of many, the FBI recovered it.

“In this pandemic world, we’re seeing the monetary policy of printing money to help stimulate the economy. Bitcoin, one of its most unique value propositions is that as a fixed supply there will never be more than 21 million Bitcoin. So, people are going to it as an alternative investment as a safe store of value,” said Neil Bergquist, CEO of Coinme, a company that exchanges cash for crypto.

More and more places are accepting Bitcoin, like Whole Foods, Starbucks and Home Depot.

“Turning physical cash into a digital representation really has a lot of technological benefits in terms of payments and as a store of value and really bringing money or store value into a digital era,” Bergquist said.

And it’s easily accessible. You can now buy Bitcoin at your local Winn-Dixie store through a Coinstar machine. (See locations below.)

“Our expansion in Florida provides that access where that access may not have been there before. So simple things like being able to buy it with cash is a key piece of infrastructure for overall adoption,” Bergquist said.

It’s even likely that crypto will become a widely accepted form of payment, like debit or credit cards.

“The concept of greater inclusion of virtual currency into our payment systems and processes is kind of inevitable,” said Russell Weigel, commissioner of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation.

Right now, Florida doesn’t have a clear definition of cryptocurrency or a policy to regulate it, which worries Weigel given the state’s history of fraud.

“We need to account for that and make sure that any system we build also has as much consumer protection or retail investor protection that we can build into it,” he said.

For Verley, even though he lost money in the recent crypto crash, he feels digital currency makes more sense than dollars and cents.

“In most places in the world, there’s no difference between swiping a credit card and spending your cryptocurrency. I feel like it’s an option that people are just going to choose rather than holding their money in U.S. dollars.”

For those interested in getting into Bitcoin, Verley recommends buying slowly. Remember, as the recent trend shows, Bitcoin is volatile and changes constantly.

A list of Southwest Florida Winn-Dixie stores with Coinstar machines that exchange cash for Bitcoin is below. Note that you will first need to set up a Coinme account. For more information on Coinstar, click here.

  • 4100 S. McCall Rd., Englewood FL 34224
  • 1951 S. McCall Rd., Englewood FL 34223
  • 5660 Bayshore Rd., North Fort Myers FL 33917
  • 3280 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte FL 33952
  • 2000 Kings Hwy., Port Charlotte FL 33980
  • 27680 Bermont Rd., Punta Gorda FL 33982
  • 1602 Lake Trafford Rd., Immokalee FL 34142
  • 625 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island FL 34145
  • 4849 Golden Gate Pkwy. Naples FL 34116
  • 7550 Mission Hills Dr., Naples FL 34119
  • 14600 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers FL 33905
  • 10580 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers FL 33913
Reporter:Zach Oliveri
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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