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Whether it’s the dramatic price fluctuations, fears of increased regulation or rules by banks to prevent investors from buying cryptocurrency with credit cards, there’s always something happening with bitcoin.
Since the hosts on ABC’s “Shark Tank” are famous for spotting good investments, CNBC Make It rounded up what they have to say on the subject.
O’Leary told CNBC Make It in December that there is a big problem among bitcoin investors: “I’m quite sure that 99 percent of the people that own bitcoin do not understand how it works.”
“That always is a cocktail for disaster,” he says.
The first thing O’Leary says you need to understand about bitcoin is that it is an asset, not a currency. By that he means that the quick and sudden gains or drops in value — known as volatility — make it difficult to use as an actual currency in transactions.
He explains it like this: When O’Leary recently tried to do a roughly $200,000 deal in bitcoin, the other party would only agree if he was willing to guarantee the value of the bitcoin against the price of the U.S. dollar, for fear it would fluctuate before the transaction was complete.
“If clearly neither side thinks it is stable enough to transfer in one minute, and they don’t even want to take one minute of risk, it is not a currency,” he says.
For Barbara Corcoran, bitcoin is interesting — but isn’t likely to be practical.
“I think bitcoin and other smaller cryptos are too complicated for mainstream use,” she tells CNBC Make It.
“I think that bitcoin — the other ones will disappear — is interesting to watch and could get up to a value of $60,000 if enough wealthy institutions or private individuals invest, but it will be as a novelty of sorts or for people needing to do under-the-radar transactions,” she continues. “As much as we don’t like U.S. currency, a.k.a. money, I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
Robert Herjavec, the CEO of cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group, has an optimistic outlook for the digital currency.
“To me, it’s the wave of the future,” Herjavec tells Money. “Fast forward 25 years from now, there will be some form of a cryptocurrency that we will pay for electronically, and the concept of cash will go away one day.
“It’s going to have massive benefits for humanity, in all kinds of transactions,” he says. But for now, he’s not personally investing — on ethical grounds.
“Cryptocurrency is the choice of funding and transactions for hackers,” he tells Money. “And since we’re the good guys, I can’t get behind [that]. If there was no cryptocurrency, much of the large hacks that we’re seeing today wouldn’t exist.”
Richard Branson, a season 9 guest shark on “Shark Tank,” invested in bitcoin a few years ago.
“I put some money in bitcoin because I like to learn about things, and I think whether bitcoin is the one — I think there will be a global currency,” Branson told CNBC in 2014.
“For people who can afford to invest a little in bitcoins, it’s worth looking into,” Branson wrote on his blog in 2013.
That year, he announced to CNBC that his commercial space flight company Virgin Galactic accepted a payment in bitcoin from a flight attendant in Hawaii for a seat on a trip to space. The Winklevoss twins, famous bitcoin backers, also used the cryptocurrency to book a spot with Virgin Galactic.
In 2014, Richard Branson told Bloomberg about bitcoin, “I think it is working. There will be other currencies like it, maybe even better, but in the meantime, there is a big industry around bitcoin.”
And, he explained that the digital currency’s wide price swings are an opportunity for some to profit. “People have made fortunes out of bitcoin, some people have lost money out of bitcoin,” he said. “It is quite volatile, but in volatility people can make money.”
He’s also invested in crypto-related businesses: Branson is an investor in bitcoin payment processing company BitPay, according to Crunchbase, and he backed bitcoin wallet start-up Blockchain last year, CNBC reports.
“You gotta start learning about it now,” Daymond John tells Money, adding that he owns bitcoin and ethereum. But before you invest, he has a key warning: It is just like any other investment — you need to do your research and beware of scammers.
“Let’s say you want to invest in cryptocurrency or med-tech or real estate,” John says. “Every single one of those is going to have a vast amount of things you need to know. If you’re not investing in yourself [and learning], I can sell you anything I want in cryptocurrency or medtech.
“Remember, every single exchange of money, no matter what, someone has made money in it,” he explains. “People sell us [on our] insecurities.”
“It’s still very much a gamble,” Mark Cuban told Money in December. “It could go to $15,000 or zero and maybe both on the same day.”
But as a believer in the technology, the billionaire entrepreneur has invested in multiple businesses built on cryptocurrency and blockchain, and told Bloomberg in October that he personally bought bitcoin.
If you’re looking to personally invest, Cuban suggests only using money you aren’t afraid to lose.
“If you’re a true adventurer and you really want to throw the Hail Mary, you might take 10 percent [of your savings] and put it in bitcoin or ethereum,” Cuban tells Vanity Fair. “But, if you do that, you’ve got to pretend you’ve already lost your money.”
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Disclaimer: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”