PETALING JAYA: Bitcoin investments have undeniably become a trend among savvy investors in search of the golden goose, but one financial planner is against the use of it as part of the financial planning portfolio for retirement. Max Growth Wealth Education Sdn Bhd managing director Nicholas Chu said one should not use bitcoin as part of the retirement portfolio and the public must be well aware of the risk in bitcoin trading before getting in. “It is not asset-backed, it is very unsecure. It is, basically, you want to participate in the future changes. It’s not a proper financial planning way. It is just an experimental thing that you want to go through in this era, but it is not a proper investment product,” he told SunBiz. “I definitely don’t agree if they use this for their financial planning. But for those who are able to try new ventures, they can go ahead provided they have extra money. If this doesn’t affect their existing financial planning, then I’ll leave it to them. We need to tell them the pros and cons of this investment. It’s up to the clients to do the final decision,” he said. Chu cautioned on the uncertainties of bitcoin trading, which is driven by market forces. “It is beyond anybody’s control, all the participants contribute to the bitcoin value. From that, I can say that there are a lot of uncertainties in the future,” he said. Nonetheless, with the setting up of a few bitcoin exchanges, Chu noted that there will be demand and supply with tradeable markets available. Bitcoin was the best-performing currency in 2015 and 2016, with a rise of 35.8% and 126.2% respectively. Year to date, bitcoin prices have leaped more than three times. It stood at US$2,840 (RM12,140) as at 5pm last Friday. Bitcoins are by the far the most popular cryptocurrency, which exists almost wholly in the digital realm and has no asset backing it. Bitcoin generation, known as mining, while open to anyone with a “mining application” on their computer, needs a great deal of computing power to solve complex algorithms which are later verified with the entire bitcoin network. Colbert Low, founder of bitcoinmalaysia.com, said the recent spike in bitcoin prices could be partly due to the legalisation of bitcoin by the Japanese government. He is unsure if the sharp rise in bitcoin prices will create a price bubble, but stressed that one cannot judge its price movement based on the “old economic theory”. “This is a new economy based on a different model. It’s very hard to say,” Low opined, noting that there has been a growing number of retail outlets that accept bitcoin. He foresees the usage of bitcoin propagating, especially in different types of payment methods. However, Low opined that there will not be any “big movement” in the local market if the regulators do not regulate tbitcoin. “Our new Bank Negara governor is forward thinking and he is very much into fintech, technology and innovation. So there would definitely be improvement,” Low said. The positive development of blockchain will be a catalyst for the growth of bitcoin, he added. “Blockchain is a real thing that will change the way the IP system is architectured. We need to go down to a deeper level to see how blockchain can change the current problem and solve it. “There are a lot of projects right now, over 500 companies are looking at this (blockchain) right now. Even IBM, HP and Microsoft are looking at it.” Blockchain refers to distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, secure from tampering and revision. Bitcoin is just an application or software that runs on blockchain technology. “If you look at blockchain technology, government agencies like the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are looking at it. This is the best way to secure your data,” Low said, noting that the usage of bitcoin will help reduce operating cost. Currently, there are about 16 million bitcoins in the market and the number is capped at 21 million. Bank Negara has said that it does not regulate the cryptocurrency and advised the public to be cautious of the risks associated with the usage of such digital currency.