Ray Dalio, the founder of the largest hedge fund in the world, told Henry Blodget that investors should have 5% to 10% of their portfolio in gold. During that same interview, Dalio called bitcoin a “speculative bubble” and said “bitcoin is not an effective medium exchange by and large” and “it’s not easy to buy things with the bitcoin.”
Dalio isn’t the only one asking these questions about bitcoin. If bitcoin really is a currency, then it is important that you can buy things with it. But this may not be a fair argument. We all seem to accept gold as a storehold of wealth and as an alternative currency even though you really can’t make purchases with gold.
So in an effort to fairly compare gold and bitcoin in this vein, we went out into the world to see how easy it was to spend both in everyday transactions. It turns out it isn’t easy to spend either. The only person we could find who accepted gold in New York City was Donald Trump in 2011.
Bitcoin is slightly easier to spend. We couldn’t use our bitcoin at Subway, which is on a few lists of retailers that accept bitcoin. Le Village, a restaurant in New York’s East Village that many have reported accepts bitcoin, was closed down when we tried to eat there. But we did have some luck spending bitcoin.
We found that it was easy to use bitcoin on Overstock.com. Also, my daughter’s preschool accepts bitcoin for tuition payments. But if you really want to use bitcoin in everyday transactions, you can get a debit card that allows you to spend bitcoin easily. But maybe we are simply using the wrong words when we talk about bitcoin.
As Adam Ludwin, the founder and CEO of Chain, says in his open letter to Jamie Dimon, “since this isn’t about cryptocurrencies vs. fiat currencies let’s stop using the word currency.” He goes on to say that he prefers to think of them as “crypto assets.”