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September 30, 2021

Homeless survive using bitcoins

Bitcoins are becoming an acceptable form of digital currency around the world, so much so that the homeless are turning towards it to survive.

A homeless man in Florida is paid in bitcoins to drive traffic to videos. While Jesse Angle relies on food stamps, the extra money makes sure he has enough for meals every day, according to Wired magazine. It sounds surprising, but Angle has access to a laptop (other homeless friends he knows have access to smartphones), free Wi-fi and it helps that the digital currency keeps him safer from being robbed.

While it's harder to get bitcoins than spare change, Angle admits to Wired that hiding behind a digital facade is a lot less embarrassing. While Internet privacy is frequently used to make anonymous comments, in this case, it's understandable why a homeless person wouldn't want to bring attention to their current status. Clicking on a link over and over again isn't a difficult gig and as long as he's completing the work the company needs done, does the company really need to know that he's homeless?

Meanwhile, Canada is making its own foray into digital currency with the Royal Canadian Mint testing its own digital currency by the end of the year. What has been dubbed as "mint chip" is exciting since it's being undertaken by the government, which other digital currencies haven't.

The race is on to create a worldwide accepted digital currency, especially with the popularity of smartphones. Bitcoins look like it's on its way there with a newly announced bitcoin investment fund that lets investors bet on the bitcoin price in an attempt to make the digital currency more mainstream. Many African countries rely on their cell phones to transfer money, while Near Field Communications (NFC) technology could soon help us pay for anything using our phones. Banks are offering phone apps for your cell phone in a bid to make banking easier.

While convenience is nice, there can still be caveats with smartphone banking, especially if you're relying on public wi-fi. With hackers able to hack into high-profile websites, it doesn't seem safe to bank using an unsecure wireless network. The option sounds nice, but it's more likely that I'll delay my banking for a little while so I can do it in my own home.

If you could, would you like to use your cell phone to pay for everything?

Josephine Lim, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...