Journalist blew £300k of Bitcoin on sushi as she thought crypto was ‘silly’

A Californian journalist has revealed that in 2013 she spent almost £300,000 worth of Bitcoin on sushi.

At the time, Kashmir Hill was writing an article about taking part in a challenge to live on nothing but Bitcoin for a week.

At the end of that week, she decided to spend her last 10 "coins" on a tempura shrimp platter with some crypto fans from Reddit, who were strangers to her.

She didn’t believe at the time that the "silly" cryptocurrency would “become like gold”, and wrote in her New York Times article that she even felt guilty about paying with it.

The group dined at Sake Zone restaurant in San Francisco because it was one of the few establishments that accepted Bitcoin at the time.

She said: "I felt guilty at the time, making Yung Chen accept $1,000 worth of funny money because it was unclear to me whether Bitcoin should be worth anything at all.”

However she needn’t feel guilty — eight years on, those 10 coins are now worth a staggering $385,000 (£272,000).

Ms Hill contacted the restaurant owner Yung Chen, an early adopter of Bitcoin, for her New York Times article. He revealed that he had used Bitcoin to retire in 2017, having accumulated £1.1 million (£780,000) worth of the cryptocurrency.

He decided to start accepting it back in 2013, as his restaurant was next door to Internet Archive offices. Plus he had worked in technology in the 1980s when he initially emigrated from Hong Kong to California.

Mr Chen admits he did feel nervous about accepting Ms Hill's Bitcoin at the time for £1,000 worth of sushi, not realising back then how much it would increase in value.

Chen also revealed that he had regrets. When Shake Zone closed in 2017, he sold a quarter of his total Bitcoin.

He said: "I feel so bad. Now, I just keep it. I just put it there like stock and wait.

“The Bitcoin has become one of the major saving assets in my portfolio.”

Bitcoin is not simply a cryptocurrency which skyrockets in value over time, but a form of completely digital currency, meaning it is traded without the help of a bank.

It is an online version of cash, the value of which fluctuates. Each Bitcoin is a computer file which is stored on a ‘digital wallet’ application on a smartphone or computer.

You can buy Bitcoins with “normal money”, allow people to pay you with it, or you can create it on a computer.

To spend them, a procedure called ‘mining’ takes place, which means the computer must solve a mathematical equation — which are getting harder as time goes on to avoid overproduction.

Each transaction is recorded by a public list, known as a “blockchain” to prevent criminal usage of it, such as making copies or undoing transactions. But it is traded anonymously, as there is no ‘account number’ to trace back to you.

This week alone, Bitcoin nearly halved in value after reaching a record high of $64,000 (£45,000) last month, and the value of cryptocurrency markets overall has dropped by $1 trillion in just two weeks.

As of today, one Bitcoin is worth £25,179.82.

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