Bill Gates says he’s not bullish on bitcoin as it uses ‘a lot of energy’ – and warns people who aren’t as rich as Elon Musk against buying into the boom

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Bill Gates.


Bill Gates, the world’s third-richest person, is not a fan of bitcoin, partly for environmental reasons. 

According to the billionaire, not only does bitcoin use a lot of energy, it can also cause trouble for investors who may not have much money to spare, given how volatile its price is.

“Elon has tons of money and he’s very sophisticated, so I don’t worry that his Bitcoin will sort of randomly go up or down,” Gates told Bloomberg in an interview. “I do think people get bought into these manias, who may not have as much money to spare, so I’m not bullish on Bitcoin, and my general thought would be that, if you have less money than Elon, you should probably watch out.”

Bitcoin fell 13% on Tuesday, to around $46,817, tumbling from a record of $58,354 struck just two days ago, as investors took profit on the near-doubling in price since the start of the year.

Philanthropist and climate activist Gates, whose book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” recently went on sale, has previously said cryptocurrencies have caused deaths in a fairly direct way. He also thinks the anonymity behind bitcoin transactions isn’t a good thing.

“The Gates Foundation does a lot in terms of digital currency, but those are things where you can see who’s making the transaction,” he said in the Bloomberg interview. “Digital money is a good thing, that’s a different approach.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has also been vocal about her doubts on cryptocurrencies, and their environmental impact, given the amount of power used in mining digital tokens.

“I don’t think that bitcoin is widely used as a transaction mechanism,” Yellen told the New York Times on Monday. “It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.”

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The best time to buy bitcoin was ‘yesterday’ and allocating 4% of a portfolio is a good bet, a chief strategist at CoinShares says

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  • The best time to buy bitcoin was “yesterday” and the second best is “today,” a chief strategist told CNBC.
  • Investors should consider a 4% allocation of bitcoin to their portfolios, Meltem Demirors said.
  • “A 4% allocation to bitcoin balances the reward, as well as the risk of drawdowns.”
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The ideal time to invest in bitcoin has already slipped by, according to Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at digital asset investment firm CoinShares.

“The best time to invest in bitcoin was yesterday – the second best time to allocate is today,” she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday.

Demirors believes regulatory concerns around cryptocurrencies, which have been around for a long time, are unlikely to thwart investor plans to allocate bitcoin to their portfolios. “At this point, our belief is: Bitcoin is not a question of if, but when,” Demirors said.

The size of the Bitcoin market recently shot past $1 trillion as it hit a record high of $58,354. The digital token was trading lower around $52,976 on Monday, but it has still gained 92% year-to-date. A flurry of adoption by major Wall Street players and large companies such as Tesla, Bank of New York Mellon, and Mastercard has added to its epic rally this year. 

That said, Demirors said investors should not allocate significant portions of bitcoin to their balance sheets.

“Our research has found that in a traditional 60-40 portfolio, a 4% allocation to bitcoin balances the reward as well as the risk of drawdowns,” she said. The 60-40 portfolio mix is considered the simplest strategy for those investors who want diversified streams of income. It involves placing 60% in equities and 40% in fixed income.

Will Hobbs, an investment chief at Barclays, is more skeptical about bitcoin. He told Insider the digital asset sounds “increasingly cultist” and a rise in interest rates could dent the world’s most popular cryptocurrency. Hobbs said Barclays considers two factors in asset allocation – positive expected return and diversification appeal. 

“Now it may well be over time that bitcoin satisfies both of those. But at the moment it’s very hard to say,” he said.

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Bitcoin miners raked in more than $1 billion in combined earnings last month. Here’s how they make money.

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Bitcoin miners earned a combined $1.1 billion in January.

  • Bitcoin mining is the process that allows new coins to enter circulation, adding to the crypto ecosystem.
  • Miners receive bitcoin as a reward for verifying “blocks” of transactions on the blockchain.
  • Last month, they earned more than $1 billion in combined earnings. Here’s how they do it. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Bitcoin is created on a decentralized network called the blockchain, where a vast network of digital “miners” work to verify transactions at any given time.

These miners earned a combined $1.1 billion in January, up 62% from December, when bitcoin’s price surged to $42,000. The road to making this amount of money is no easy feat.

What do bitcoin miners do?

Miners have the responsibility to audit transactions on the blockchain to ensure the legitimacy of the network. They also work to avoid the “double-spend” scenario, in which a bitcoin owner could sneakily spend the same coin twice through duplication or falsification.

Miners don’t necessarily work as a team. They work to compete with each other in order to add the next “block,” or a record of all bitcoin transactions, to the chain. A block contains a partial record of the most recent transactions and carries 1 MB (megabyte) worth of data.

The miner who receives a reward would be the first among a bunch to run through hordes of number combinations to solve a numeric problem, known as proof of work, to arrive at an acceptable 64-character code. The code of this winning block helps keep the blockchain secure. It would normally look something like the last line in this image: 

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By being the first to solve the equation and successfully adding the next block to the chain, the miner is rewarded a certain amount of bitcoin. Only one such block can be added at a time, and each one takes about 10 minutes to verify and attach.

Over the course of the next 20 years, a total of 21 million coins will be released.

What are the rewards worth?

In 2009, the first time bitcoin was created, miners were rewarded with 50 bitcoin per block. But according to a mandate by Satoshi Nakamoto, rewards for mining are halved every four years. The rewards were cut to 25 bitcoin by 2012 and to 12.5 bitcoin by 2016.

As of February 2021, miners gain 6.25 bitcoin for every new block mined – equal to about $330,475 based on current value. They’re also allowed to keep the transaction fees from each trade carried out on that block, which is worth $20 per trade.

An estimated 1 million bitcoin miners are in operation, at present.

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