Perspective | Cryptocurrency Makes This Columnist Nervous. Should You Be Nervous Too?
Stand-up comedian Bob Newhart receives a phone call from his insurance broker Newhart: “What’s that, Ted? Oh yes, the insurance claim after we were robbed.”
After listening to the reply, Newhart says: “How much are they offering? … How much? One? What is that, one thousand? … No, just one. I see. One. … One what?”
He listens. “One big coin? … How big would the coin be, Ted? What’s that? Bit … coin. One bitcoin. Well, let’s see … two bits is 25 cents, so they’re offering to settle a $30,000 claim for 12 and a half cents?”
After listening for a while, he says: “So, uh, let me see if I got this straight. We’re talking about the $30,000 claim we made when the house was robbed. OK, good. Just checking. So they want to transfer an electronic credit for one coin worth $30,000. What’s that? Twenty-eight thousand now? It changes all the time? Ted, can I just have a check?”
A pause. Then: “The insurance company doesn’t write checks anymore? Well, none of ’em ever did, Ted, that’s how insurance works. What? No, I’m joking. Just get me a check.”
Newhart hangs up. Moments later, the phone rings.
Newhart: “Hello? Oh hey, Ted. Something we didn’t discuss? … No, I don’t have a wallet in my computer. How would I get a wallet into my computer? The wallet has a key? Like a safety deposit box? No, not like that. … Cryptography? What is that, like Sherlock Holmes?”
“It’s a what? A non-fiat currency? I drive a Buick, Ted. … Oh, the wallet is metaphorical, I see. It’s a metaphorical electric wallet. And the company wants to send me one coin to put into my electric wallet. I see. … Ted, won’t the coin fall out of the wallet?”
“I get it. My money’s in a Fiat on the superhighway. How do I spend this electronic money that I can’t actually see or hold, Ted? … Ah. I tell the people I want to buy something. From that I’ll transfer a bit of a coin to their wallet. … And they’ll fall for this? Because I’m sure as hell not going to. Why would they fall for it? They know I can write a check.”
Newhart listens carefully.
“With the fintech and the blockchain?” he asks. “The wallet goes in the blockchain on the fintech and then the restaurant lets me leave without paying, because they’ve got a wallet in the blockchain?”
He pauses again to listen.
“My address? You have my address, Ted. Oh, my bitcoin address. Same as the house, I guess. What’s that? … It’s a string of 26 to 35 letters and numbers. … I don’t have one of those, but I can give you a shorter string of characters that kinda sum up my feelings about all this, Ted. Why can’t I just have a check?”
Yet another long pause.
“Yes, I know, it’s the future, but this accident happened in the past, so I’d like to get paid like in the past, you know, into my account. Yes, yes, the wallet. … The blockchain. … Fintech … Bitcoin. Ted, just send me a check. Goodbye.” &