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Layin’ It on the Line: Why is Bitcoin not covered by FDIC?

By Lyle Boss - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Apr 12, 2023

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Lyle Boss

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency of the United States government that provides insurance to depositors in case their bank fails. However, the FDIC does not cover Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency. There are several reasons for this.

First, Bitcoin is not a traditional deposit. When people deposit money in a bank, they essentially loan their money to the bank, which the bank then uses to make loans and investments. In exchange, the bank pays interest to the depositor. In contrast, when people buy Bitcoin, they are not depositing money in a bank; they are purchasing a digital asset that has value based on supply and demand. Bitcoin is not a legal tender backed by the government, nor is it backed by any assets or commodities, making it difficult to classify it as a traditional deposit.

Second, Bitcoin is a decentralized currency. A central authority, such as a government or a financial institution, does not control it. This decentralization is a fundamental characteristic of Bitcoin and a key reason why many people find it appealing. However, it also means that there is no centralized entity to insure Bitcoin holdings. The FDIC is designed to protect deposits at banks, which are centralized institutions with a physical presence. On the other hand, Bitcoin is a decentralized digital asset stored on a distributed ledger known as the blockchain. No central authority can ensure the safety and security of Bitcoin holdings.

Third, Bitcoin is a relatively new technology that is still in the process of being regulated. Governments and financial institutions are still trying to figure out how to classify and regulate cryptocurrencies, and until there is greater clarity on this issue, it is unlikely that the FDIC will cover Bitcoin. Some countries have already taken steps to regulate cryptocurrencies, while others have banned them outright. The United States has taken a somewhat cautious approach, with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and other regulatory bodies issuing guidelines and rules for using and trading cryptocurrencies.

Fourth, the FDIC only insures deposits up to a certain amount. The standard insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category. If a bank fails, the FDIC will insure each depositor up to $250,000. However, Bitcoin holdings can be worth much more than this, and there is no way for the FDIC to insure such large holdings. Additionally, Bitcoin is highly volatile and its value can fluctuate rapidly, making it difficult to determine its worth at any given time.

In conclusion, Bitcoin is not covered by the FDIC for several reasons. It is not a traditional deposit — it is a decentralized currency, it is a new technology that is still being regulated and it can be worth much more than the FDIC’s insurance limit. While this lack of coverage may be a concern for some people, it is also one of the reasons why many others are attracted to Bitcoin. The decentralization and lack of central authority make it appealing to some users, and its status as a new technology means that there is still a lot of potential for growth and innovation in the cryptocurrency space.

Lyle Boss, a native Utahn, is a member of Syndicated Columnists, a national organization committed to a fully transparent approach to money management. Boss Financial, 955 Chambers St., Suite 250, Ogden, UT 84403. Telephone: 801-475-9400.


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