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8,000 Bitcoin be a Christmas cracker or suffer a New Year hangover? What about a gift of cryptocurrency this Christmas? It could be the perfect present for the tricky person who has everything. But it could also end up worthless if the current boom turns to bust. The 37-year-old marketing executive, from North London, has been curious about Bitcoin since it first emerged in 2009 partly as a reaction to the banker-induced financial crisis. I have been reading up about it and trying to understand the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I had been meaning to invest for ages and finally got round to it a month ago.

1,000 through Coinbase and spread the purchase across Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum. 99 per cent and there will also be charges when she sells. But she does not intend to sell in the short term. My investment has gone up more than 40 per cent in value already but I fully expect it to fluctuate wildly. Alternatively, you can exchange it for a traditional currency such as sterling.

This can be done using a special pre-payment card that converts the cryptocurrency when a purchase is made. AND HOW DO YOU BUY IT? Blockchain allows transactions to be managed cheaply, securely and anonymously in a kind of devolved online ledger with records of transactions held on thousands of computers. But today, the Bitcoin revolution has extended beyond the techies and miners. Cryptocurrencies can now be purchased from specialist exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, Bittylicious and Bitstamp. You can usually pay for the currency by credit or debit card or bank transfer.

Exchanges are likely to make a charge for each purchase of cryptocurrency. 99 per cent for card purchases. You can send a currency to another person’s digital wallet so a Christmas present could be on the cards. Bitcoin has risen more than tenfold this year and doubled in just seven weeks.

But can it keep rising as adoption gets more widespread, does blockchain’s promise justify the price, and does any of this matter as to whether it is in a bubble or not? In this excerpt from the This is Money podcast, Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost discuss Bitcoin’s astonishing rise. The number of Bitcoins in circulation will never exceed 21 million. The limit was set by a mysterious coding genius with the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. This aims to ensure it will always have scarcity value.

Shoppers can pay online or use an app on their phone. They need to set up a virtual wallet first to store their coins. To find shops accepting the currency visit wheretospendbitcoins. Anyone receiving income paid in Bitcoin will also be taxed accordingly. One year’s winner can be next year’s loser’ Warnings abound that investors’ heated love affair with Bitcoin can only end in tears.