President’s Lecture discusses bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency
SHEPHERDSTOWN — What is bitcoin, how does it work and will it have a future? were all questions answered by Martinsburg-native Charlie Kiser, during Shepherd University’s President’s Lecture on Feb. 28.
Kiser, who is the CEO of Atlas Blockchain Group Inc., a publicly traded cryptocurrency mining company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, spoke on “Understanding Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency,” before fielding questions from the audience.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, cryptocurrency is “any form of currency that only exists digitally, that usually has no central issuing or regulating authority but instead uses a decentralized system to record transactions and manage the issuance of new units, and that relies on cryptography to prevent counterfeiting and fraudulent transactions.” Although the prospect of cryptocurrency becoming a major part of the world’s economy may seem daunting, according to Kiser, cryptocurrency is here to stay.
“We are creating less friction in the marketplace,” Kiser said of cryptocurrency, before discussing the boom for one form of cryptocurrency, bitcoin. “Since we’ve had the hype cycle that went on last year, and have since seen the decrease in interest grow, many spectators quit, as bitcoin has become more scarce.”
The decrease in availability of bitcoin online is only one difficult situation facing cryptocurrency users, according to Kiser. Other challenges facing users, include finding an accurate way to quantify the value of cryptocurrency and ascertain the existence of cryptocurrency, before it is sold.
“Regulators are trying to look at how can we create valuation of bitcoin,” Kiser said, mentioning he anticipates this work will smooth out the road for cryptocurrency to be used around the world, in place of money. “I don’t know if bitcoin is the one form of cryptocurrency that’s going to make it through, or if another one will. It will get to the point when trading will be seamless and frictionless.”
But while trading and regulation of cryptocurrency’s value may become a standardized system, Kiser said another issue still remains to be resolved — taxation on cryptocurrency.
“One issue with paying taxes on bitcoin, is bitcoin’s value may be drastically different from when it was bought. The IRS really want to know your income, and there are a lot of people who haven’t reported their bitcoin and need to,” Kiser said, mentioning he is not sure whether or not taxation on cryptocurrency can be fair, since the value of cryptocurrency is so easily lost.
Over the last few years, Kiser has watched the business community gradually becoming acquainted with the concept of cryptocurrency. The business community’s familiarity, however, has not made it less cautious in accepting it as valid currency.
“Now we’re starting to see the enterprises are jumping in, including IBM and Walmart,” Kiser said. “Fortune 500 companies are still a little skeptical. There are not a lot of business propositions that are related to this.”