Perspective | Cryptocurrency Makes This Columnist Nervous. Should You Be Nervous Too?

By: | May 7, 2021

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

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?”

Newhart chuckles.

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?”

Another pause.

“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?”

Newhart sighs.

“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.

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“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.” &

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]