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IOWA CITY - Cameron Schorg can't stop talking about bitcoin.
A soon-to-be-graduate of the University of Iowa, he has earned a moniker as the 'bitcoin guy” on campus, where he's talked up the cryptocurrency technology for years.
'Especially with that transition into college, people were getting really annoyed by me because I couldn't shut up about this stuff. It was 24/7,” Schorg, 21, said.
Like many advocates, Schorg believes the digital currency will fundamentally alter how the world handles finances. One benefit, he argues, is that it is decentralized, meaning it isn't backed by established banks or the government. No borders or political agendas can influence it or the value of other digital coins, he said.
'It's like freedom to me,” he said.
Instead, bitcoin's trustworthiness, he said, comes from its roots in code and the blockchain, a digital ledger that records every transaction.
'With bitcoin, you don't have to trust in people at all. You trust the code, you trust in protocols,” he said.
Schorg has received more attention recently, giving talks before business groups and interviews with reporters about his passion.
At one speech, given during the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner in February, Schorg was met with some nods, some skepticism and some downright scoffs as a few people in the room commented that he needed to learn how to talk to a room full of bankers.
It's a reaction Schorg said he's gotten before. but not one that's deterred him.
'First of all, they say that because they're scared. I think somewhere deep inside they know that this is threatening to their business model, to their jobs,” he said.
Schorg's passion for bitcoin wasn't immediate. When a somewhat 'sketchy” high school classmate approached him to talk about its business potential, Schorg knew nothing about it. His first time researching bitcoin led to articles about illegal drugs and the Silk Road, a black market website shut down in 2013.
'I remember going back into class and going, ‘No way am I going to touch this stuff,'” Schorg said.
A week later, the same classmate came back to Schorg and showed him that he had doubled his money invested in bitcoin practically overnight. So, Schorg did more research, but focused on what he saw as the benefits rather than the negatives.
'It wasn't the fact that the price went from $10 to $20, it was the fact that this is the future of finance and I have to be involved, I have to get into this because this is going to change the world,” he said.
Schorg's father, Gary, said his son has always loved a challenge and felt the same about the emergence of cryptocurrency.
'He's just always been that way. He soaks up information and loves to jump in and chase it and figure it out,” said Gary Schorg, a bank branch manager in Colorado Springs, Colo.
A double major in finance and business information systems, Schorg plans to move to Denver after graduation.
Schorg has been trying to build a brand around himself and his bitcoin knowledge. He now charges for consulting and plans to develop a 'bitcoin 101” class.
Yet while he continues to carve out a career in crypto, his chosen field faces extreme market volatility, skepticism from many in the public and potential federal regulation.
Schorg recognizes the current limitations of cryptocurrency technology, which he said can be clunky and is not 'super-grandma friendly.”
'We're building an entirely new system. That takes a long time,” Schorg said.
Even if governments bring the hammer down on cryptocurrencies, Schorg said he'll continue advocating for it.
'I believe in this so much, I'm willing to fight for it,” he said.
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