Bitcoin in Debate

Stetson RGIP students Patrick Medico and Zachary Gunn explored the value and virtues of bitcoin, putting both their knowledge and showmanship on display.

Juniors Patrick Medico and Zachary Gunn put on quite a show at the RGIP Public Trustee Meeting on Stetson’s DeLand campus March 20.

During the meeting, students of Stetson’s Roland George Investment Program introduced a new index that included three stock recommendations for the RGIP Growth Fund. Students also recommended three additional stocks. Prior to those presentations, however, Medico and Gunn debated the value and virtues of bitcoin – with enough vigor and insight to raise their own collective worth.

Bitcoin, of course, is an especially hot financial topic these days. Yet, its understanding is shrouded in talk of cryptocurrency, data mining and the internet. In an exercise intended to both inform and entertain, Medico, a double-major in economics and finance, took the side in favor of bitcoin. Gunn, a double-major in business administration and economics, represented the opposition. Then, with Trustees and a public audience watching, the duel – “Bitcoin in Florida 2018” – began.

Patrick Medico is a double-major in economics and finance.

First question: What is a bitcoin? Medico described it as “a virtual currency in a worldwide payment system that meets the three functions of money: a medium of exchange, unit of measure and that stores value.” Medico continued that “bitcoin is 100 percent digital – a line of code in a software program that can be transferred across the internet to any device with an internet connection. He added that “bitcoin is unlike regular coins that come from a bank or government.”

Then Medico explained the terms “block” and “blockchain” in the context of collecting files, securing them and spreading them across the internet. Blockchain, he detailed (using props), is a software platform for digital assets.

Zachary Gunn is a double-major in business administration and economics.

Gunn’s immediate retort: “To start, I want to dispute the idea that bitcoin is a currency. In order to be a currency, it has to fulfill three roles. Currently, bitcoin fails at fulfilling all three.” Gunn went on to describe bitcoin as a “fad and a craze.”

Is bitcoin a good investment? Medico answered with two other questions: “Zach, would you define a good investment as an asset that earns a positive yearly return consistently? How is bitcoin not a good investment?”

Gunn: “Pat, do you actually believe that bitcoin is a good investment? … Listen, here’s what it comes down to. You can’t deflect attention away from bitcoin and on to blockchain. You keep saying that the fundamental value of bitcoin is in blockchain. But it’s simply not true, because if it was then the price of it would remain stable … Instead, bitcoin prices are incredibly volatile. …”

And so, the debate unfolded in what also turned out to be an illustration of RGIP’s own value and virtues.

RGIP, open to select students majoring in finance and business, is designed to empower students, who manage a real portfolio comprising $3.5 million in stocks and bonds. They use fundamental research tools and leading data services such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Morningstar and Baseline to find and defend investment recommendations to students and trustees of the investments committee. Their portfolio ranks among the best performers in its category.

In this instance, two students also effectively used a currency of another sort, bitcoin.

Michael Candelaria