I bought 250 in bitcoin. Here’s what I learned

some people kill time at the airport browsing duty free shops. I decided to buy bitcoins.

But first, there are two things you should know about me: I tend to be almost as afraid of losing money investing as I am of flying. On some level, I thought that one fear could cancel out the other.

so last thursday while waiting for a flight to nashville i opened a popular app called coinbase which can be used to buy and sell bitcoins. the virtual currency had first hit $10,000 a couple of days earlier, before pulling back a bit. news of bitcoin’s rapid rise was everywhere, including on cnn.

Reading: Invest 250 in bitcoin

related: what is bitcoin?

During 15 minutes at the airport, I updated the price of bitcoin over and over again, watching it gain and lose hundreds of dollars in a matter of minutes. I breathlessly pointed out price fluctuations to my wife, who kindly encouraged me not to be a jerk, before returning to her magazine.

I was in good company. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon recently called Bitcoin a “fraud” and suggested that people who buy it are “stupid.” Warren Buffett called bitcoin a “mirage” in 2014 and warned investors to “stay away.”

Are you trading bitcoins? We want to hear from you.

and yet bitcoin has increased more than tenfold since buffett’s warning. Earlier this month, a college friend casually told me over a drink that he had made tens of thousands of dollars investing in another cryptocurrency. he said he hoped one day it would be worth enough to buy a house.

When I saw the price of bitcoin drop to $9,500, I pressed buy, defying the wisdom of two titans of finance and my wife. one hundred dollars, or 0.0101 bitcoins. (a few days later, I bought another $150). By the time we got to our hotel, my bet had already gone up 10%. a week later, it was (briefly) up 100%. my wife’s opinion of me has reportedly dropped by the same amount.

what’s going on?

is an investment frenzy, plain and simple.

bitcoin broke $1,000 on the first day of 2017. for this week, it hit $12,000, and then it really took off: the price topped $17,000 on a few trades on Thursday and $18,000 on at least one. other cryptocurrencies have seen similar spikes, though they trade for much less than bitcoin.

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There is a long list of factors that people can point to in an attempt to explain this. Regulators have taken a hands-off approach to bitcoin in certain markets. Dozens of new hedge funds were launched this year to trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. nasdaq and chicago merchant exchange plan to allow investors to trade bitcoin futures, which may attract more professional investors.

Related: Bitcoin Drops Over $2,500 After Hitting New High

However, a key reason the bitcoin price keeps going up is because it keeps going up. Small investors like yours are really afraid of missing out on a get-rich-quick opportunity. And when the value of your bitcoin doubles in a week, as it did for me, it’s easy to think you’re a genius. but it can burn assuming it will keep firing.

Some investors have compared the bitcoin hype to the dotcom bubble. Others, like Dimon, have said that it is even “worse” than the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century, considered one of the most famous bubbles in history.

as buffett said in 2014, “the idea that [bitcoin] has great intrinsic value is just a joke in my opinion”. bitcoin is not backed by the profits of a company, or the strength of a government and the rule of law. There is also no interest or dividends.

Why would anyone want or need to use bitcoin?

bitcoin serves as a new kind of currency for the digital age. It works across international borders and does not need to be backed by banks or governments.

or at least that was the promise when it was created in 2009. bitcoin’s surge and volatility this year may be great for early investors, but it undermines bitcoin’s viability as a currency.

Related: Bitcoin Boom Could Be an Environmental Disaster

Right now, I can use my bitcoin holdings to pay for overstock purchases (ostbp) or book a hotel on expedia (expe). but if i use bitcoin to buy excess $25 worth of socks today, and the price of bitcoin quadruples next week, i will feel like those socks actually cost me $100. on the other hand, if bitcoin fails, at least i will always have socks.

Instead of a currency, bitcoin is treated more like an asset, with the hope of making big profits in the future.

bitcoin purchase

So, is there anything truly valuable about bitcoin?

See also: Investing in Bitcoin: 6 Pros and 6 Cons

yes, the technology behind it.

bitcoin is based on the block chain, a public ledger that contains all the transaction data of anyone who uses bitcoin. transactions are added to the “blocks” or links of code that make up the chain, and each transaction must be recorded in a block.

even bitcoin critics like dimon have said they support the use of blockchain technology to track payments.

Is there a legal and legitimate way to invest in bitcoin?

bitcoin exchanges have a checkered history. mt.gox, once the largest exchange, closed in 2014 after losing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bitcoin after a hack.

Today, the leading exchange is offered by coinbase, a startup that has raised over $200 million from several top-tier venture capital firms. square (sq), the payment service, is also launching a bitcoin product.

There are also bitcoin ATMs in scattered warehouses and convenience stores across the country, through companies like coinsource. ATMs allow you to exchange bitcoin for cash, or vice versa, by scanning a QR code from the digital wallet app on your phone.

Related: Millions of dollars stolen in bitcoin hack

With coinbase, you must first give the app permission to connect to your bank account. As with other stock trading apps, you pay a small fee for each transaction, purchase and sale. but the transaction may take much longer.

My original $100 bitcoin purchase will not be officially completed on coinbase until Friday, more than a week after the transaction. the price I bought it for is still the same, but I won’t be able to sell it until Friday.

If the price crashes before then, I’m out of luck. no socks for me.

– CNN’s Selena Larson contributed to this report.

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