What would you do if, seemingly overnight, you became a millionaire? Would you live out your wildest dreams? Or, would you donate the majority — if not all — of the funds to a good cause? It’s a hard question, one more people are having to ask themselves now that the cryptocurrency known as bitcoin is increasing in value at a rapid pace.

Credit: CNBC

At the beginning of 2017, bitcoin was worth approximately $1,000 USD. Today, it is fluctuating between $18,000 and $20,000 — and, some economists predict its value will only continue to increase. Those who invested early, such as Halle Tecco and Jeff Hammerbacher, have been rewarded for their foresight. However, they have also had to ask themselves the question above. 

Fortunately for the collective, Tecco and Hammerbacher chose to donate the earnings they made off of bitcoin’s rise in value to cancer research. An estimated donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, which will use the funds to explore new ways to combat cancer. It is up to the hospital to decide whether or not the bitcoin will be converted to US currency or re-invested.

CNBC reports that Hammerbacher got his start as an early Facebook data scientists. He now runs a lab at Mount Sinai. His wife, Tecco, is the co-founder of digital health investment firm Rock Health. Together, they manage Techammer, an angel fund. It was through this platform news of their contribution was shared: 

The couple made their first bitcoin purchase back in 2013, when the cryptocurrency was worth just $800. Specifically, they made an angel investment in the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust, a vehicle for investors to invest in cryptocurrency. According to Tecco, they initially invested in bitcoin “mostly out of curiosity and to diversify our investments.”

You can imagine their surprise, then, when they checked on their investment after “bitcoin” became a household term. Said Tecco,

”We pretty much forgot about it for a few years (the bitcoin investment) and then this year, it got interesting.”

Tecco and Hammerbacher hope their example inspires other people to “pay it forward” and donate their earnings toward initiatives which seek to benefit the collective, rather than just a few.

Credit: CNBC

Why Bitcoin Has Surged in Popularity

Any investment is a risk. However, bitcoin is deemed to be a worthwhile one for several reasons, which follow:

1) No third-party interference

Because bitcoin operates on a blockchain system, every transaction is recorded and verified by dozens of sources before it is approved. This eliminates the need for a third-party, such as a bank. It also saves money, as banks like to charge a fee for their interference.

2) Cheap and quick transactions

Sending bitcoin is drastically cheaper than conventional methods of moving money. The normal bitcoin fee is 0.0005 BTC per transfer. In contrast, a typical international wire transfer can cost a minimum of $15-$20. And, accepting credit cards generally costs 3-5% of the transfer amount. Again, this is far more expensive than a bitcoin transaction.

3) No paperwork is necessary

Anyone, from any country, at any age, can accept bitcoins within minutes. There is no need for an ID card, passport, or proof of address — information conventional banks require just to open an account. All that is needed is a Bitcoin Wallet program (such as CoinBase) which can generate a bitcoin address.

4) Appreciating Value

Bitcoin was highly volatile during the first few years of its inception. However, in the past six months, it has become more stable. Now, companies such as PayPal, Overstock, and Microsoft are accepting bitcoin for payments. And, as a result, society is growing more receptive to the idea of bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) replacing the failing U.S. dollar.

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h/t CNBC