Broadside: Can Bitcoins Be Trusted?

(NECN) - As a second Bitcoin ATM-style kiosk site was added in Massachusetts, officials issued a Bitcoin "consumer alert."

Barbara Anthony, Massachusetts Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs, says they support technology and innovation, but Bitcoins may not be appropriate for the average consumers.

Anthony explains that Bitcoins are a payment method that involve computer files

"The money in my bank is not volatile. This $20 is worth $20 today, tomorrow and we know it's going to be worth $20. Bitcoins go up and down in value frankly from second to second. It was $1,200 in November; Monday when we issued our advisory, it was $620; today, it's $593. It's anybody's guess what it's going to be tomorrow," she says.

Anthony says anything purchased with Bitcoins, as opposed to a credit or debit card, can't be returned because of the Bitcoins' inherent volatility, plus there is no way to ensure their worth.

Both technology and necessity are helping Bitcoins look appealing, Anthony says.

"The people who invented this are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars," she says, adding that the creators of Bitcoins are still unknown. "The thing is, there is a need, there certainly is a desire for a faster, no or low-fee payment system."

Should Bitcoins be regulated? Anthony says there are government agencies taking a look at Bitcoins.

"Nobody wants to squash innovation before we completely, you know, unless we know there is no value here," she says, adding that Bitcoins are an "international phenomenon."

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