Bitcoin has been all the rage recently, generating tons of revenue and creating some pretty wealthy individuals. It’s just that now, according to a New York Times report, some are having a hard time accessing their fortunes for the same reason many of us struggle with technology — they can’t remember their passwords.
“Bitcoin, which has been on an extraordinary and volatile eight-month run, has made a lot of its holders very rich in a short time, even as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the world economy,” wrote Nathanial Popper of the Times. “But the cryptocurrency’s unusual nature has also meant that many people are locked out of their Bitcoin fortunes as a result of lost or forgotten keys.”
As these millions of forgetful folks watch Bitcoin prices fluctuate, all they can do is sit helplessly, and perhaps light holy candles and pray, unable to cash in on their digital earnings.
As you might imagine, this leads to frustration, desperation and perhaps downright panic.
“Of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoin, around 20 percent — currently worth around $140 billion — appear to be in lost or otherwise stranded wallets, according to the cryptocurrency data firm Chainalysis,” Popper reported. “Wallet Recovery Services, a business that helps find lost digital keys, said it had gotten 70 requests a day from people who wanted help recovering their riches, three times the number of a month ago.”
Other services, such as online banking or PayPal, help customers either recover or reset their passwords, and they can do so fairly quickly. Not Bitcoin.
“The virtual currency’s creator, a shadowy figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto, has said Bitcoin’s central idea was to allow anyone in the world to open a digital bank account and hold the money in a way that no government could prevent or regulate,” Popper wrote.
It sounded like a great idea at the time. Now, maybe not so much.