As noted above, bitcoin is not the only form of digital crypto-currency. There are many others. One of the most popular is called ether (the name gives it away), based on the Ethereum platform.

Ethereum is intended as much more than a crypto-currency protocol. It allows a user to program a so-called “smart contract” that will automatically execute financial transfers upon the satisfaction of specified conditions. You can use Ethereum to automatically pay your rent, record a transfer of property such as real estate, stocks or bonds, or even pay your children’s’ allowance if they make their beds and cleanup their rooms (good luck with that).

This sounds efficient because it’s faster, cheaper and easier than using traditional financial intermediaries such as banks, lawyers or exchanges. There’s only one problem. The protocol is full of bugs that hackers are using to steal the ether!

This article has a litany of horror stories including one Canadian exchange that locked itself out of $13 million in a broken smart contract with no way ever crack the code and recover the money. It’s just lost in cyber-space — forever. This article is a sobering reminder of the great attraction of gold, silver, and or other hard assets such as land, fine art or natural resources.

Hard assets are non-digital and can’t be hacked, erased or trapped behind an encrypted firewall. Gold and silver are always there when you need them.