Canadian entrepreneur Jeff Berwick has a reputation which undoubtedly precedes him.
Known since the mid-90s when he founded Canada's largest website stockhouse.com, has gained increasing notoriety as an authority on a wide range of economic spheres, from finance management to currency speculation.
Awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year prize in 1999, Berwick more recently founded his website dollarvigilante.com, as well as offering private advice on second passport acquisition and wealth management through his TDV Media & Services LLC since 2010.
He is heavily involved in tracking the emergence of cryptocurrencies and has given numerous talks on the subject in recent years.
We caught up with Jeff this week and took the opportunity to quiz him on his current plans, as well as the pros and cons of Bitcoin in today's climate and what he thinks the future might have in store for it.
Cointelegraph: You mentioned recently on Twitter that the flexibility of second passport acquisition for Americans has been under scrutiny recently. Do you see Bitcoin as being a tool to overcoming obstacles being faced by US citizens with interests abroad?
Jeff Berwick: Yes, it absolutely can play a role in allowing Americans to transact easily internationally. The financial and monetary system as we know it is crumbling and we see the effects of it worldwide.These events will continue to happen throughout Europe and the West including the US, Canada and Australia.This entire debt based, communist style centrally planned, fiat currency system is reaching the end of its road. Having your money outside of this system will be paramount to surviving the coming fiat currency collapse… whether it be in owning precious metals or Bitcoin.
CT: You'll shortly be hosting Crisis Conference Cabo, which will offer tailored advice on wealth and asset management in an intimate setting. Can you tell us what you're most eager to speak about for the 20 or so attendees of the conference?
J.B: We’ve been holding urgent conferences for high net worth people who live in the US and who recognize there is a collapse coming to educate and actually help them to begin to internationalize their assets. The reason it is called the Crisis Conference is because we are attempting to get people’s financial affairs internationalized and protected from the coming FATCA legislation prior to July 1st of this year. In my opinion this is the most dangerous time in human history for capital and those who are not prepared and have their assets outside of the US financial and monetary system are taking extreme risks. We hope that those who attend can see more clearly all the risks and get the personal advice and info they need and even start moving forward on internationalization through our experts immediately.
CT: At the Texas Bitcoin Conference last month, you said that Bitcoin's creation is "phenomenal", "incredible" and "so exciting" - and that it will "revolutionise the world", but you said separately that you "would not recommend it as an investment".
J.B:...If Bitcoin does become a worldwide used money then it will likely be worth around $1 million per Bitcoin in today’s dollars (these calculations are if it were to replace the US dollar in trade). Therefore, the upside would be massive so you don’t need to risk too much to get a potentially exponential return. But, Bitcoin could also go to $0 under a number of scenarios including complete worldwide government oppression of it (jailing anyone caught using Bitcoin), a major flaw is uncovered in it or if another cryptocurrency becomes more popular and seen to be advantageous to Bitcoin. I consider all these possibilities to be remote at this current time but they are possible. If Bitcoin reaches its ultimate potential it will make a person with even 1 Bitcoin rich. If it doesn’t and it disappears you could lose your entire speculation. Therefore, at TDV I have recommended not putting more than 3-5% of your portfolio in speculation on Bitcoin.
CT: What would you say are the main reasons to use Bitcoin as a genuine alternative to hard currency today?
J.B: Count the reasons! Everything about Bitcoin is better than “hard” currency. The ease and non-cost of transactions is so much better than the traditional banking system today. Once people see that they can open a Bitcoin “account” in about five seconds, can receive Bitcoin from anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds and then go and transfer those bitcoins or purchase items in a matter of seconds all for no cost they will never want to go back to filing documents and taking hours or days to open a bank account, paying service charges and wire transfer fees and having their accounts or transfers frozen or questioned.
CT: You mentioned volatility as being the main problematic factor of Bitcoin in its fledgling years. Given the recent demise of MtGox, for example, how would you recommend utilising cryptocurrencies to maximal advantage while they continue to gather a significant clientele?
J.B: I expect Bitcoin will be very volatile for the foreseeable future. Only once it has a very large base, say of a total value of $50-100 billion and upward (which would value Bitcoin at approximately $5,000-$10,000) will it slow dramatically in volatility. I personally save a percentage of the profits of all my Bitcoin revenue I receive with no plans to sell. I have been offering every product that my companies offer for Bitcoin for three years now so I have been constantly squirreling away bitcoins. We have sold passports, offshore bank accounts and corporations, newsletter subscriptions to TDV and even condos that I offer through my company in Acapulco, AcaCondos and rentals at my hotel in Acapulco, Las Torres Gemelas Private Suites for bitcoins and as I stated my strategy is to keep a large percentage of my profit on those transactions in Bitcoin.