How Do You Explain Bitcoin? Give It Away, Like This Guy

In an effort to demonstrate how this new type of digital currency works, the president of the Bitcoin Association, which works to educate people about Bitcoin and related technologies, decided to give some of it away.

Sometimes, it really is better to show rather than tell. Just ask Bruce Fenton, president of the Bitcoin Association, who recently sponsored a mini public awareness campaign to help explain the mechanics of the digital currency that has many people scratching their heads in confusion.

I’m always explaining Bitcoin to people, and it’s not a super easy thing to explain.

“I came up with the idea because I’m always explaining Bitcoin to people, and it’s not a super easy thing to explain,” Fenton said. “It takes a little bit of time for people to really get it, and one of the easiest ways to really understand it is to just try it out.”

To do this, Fenton posted a Facebook message asking interested participants to create a Bitcoin wallet, which allows users to send and receive Bitcoin. He then sent each participant $1 worth of the currency. About 80 people around the world took Fenton up on his offer.

The price of a single Bitcoin increased by 6,000 percent in 2013, but it’s a puzzling concept to many. A survey by the Bitcoin Investment Trust found that 30 percent of people were confused upon first learning about the decentralized digital currency, which is exchanged person-to-person through the internet. Here’s a handy video explainer the association shares on its website:

Explaining Bitcoin is like explaining what the internet was back in the early ’90s, Fenton said. “It’s a new technology and a new thing that we don’t have a frame of reference for to understand, so it is sort of complex, and then on top of that there’s some misunderstandings about it.”

While there’s not much those 80 participants can buy with a dollar’s worth of Bitcoin, that wasn’t the point of giving the money away, Fenton said.

“The one lesson you could learn from this is that for products that are things people can try, especially if it’s something new, unusual, or complex, giving people the opportunity to try it makes sense,” he said.

(photo by Jason Benjamin/Flickr)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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