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Bitcoin 'can survive an apocalypse' using old-school technology, says CoinDesk researcher

  • Trading in bitcoin this week has been on a wild ride, with record highs over $19,000 per unit on one exchange to lows of under $15,000.
  • Rest assured, in the event of an apocalypse or massive internet shutdown, bitcoin will survive using offline technologies, a CoinDesk researcher Nolan Bauerle says.
  • Bauerle advises bitcoin owners to store their digital assets on a hard drive rather than in the cloud.

Rest assured, in the event of an apocalypse or massive internet shutdown, bitcoin will survive using offline technologies, a CoinDesk researcher told CNBC on Friday.

"We're fine," said Nolan Bauerle, director of research at CoinDesk, a digital media company aimed at the digital asset and blockchain community. Bitcoin transactions are "being broadcast on shortwave radio," he said. "They've [also] launched satellites into space. You can survive an apocalypse."

Coindesk reported as early as 2014 about a test project in Finland to transmit bitcoin payments over the airwaves. There are also services like Blockstream Satellite, which describes itself as a broadcaster of the bitcoin blockchain from space, so people without internet or during a disruption can gain access.

But the idea of truly being able to sustain the transmission of bitcoin transactions if the internet were knocked offline has been hotly debated in bitcoin forums.

Whether online or not, Bauerle advises bitcoin owners to store their digital assets on a hard drive rather than in the cloud. "Custody is part of the problem here," he said.

Bauerle appeared on "Squawk Box" after bitcoin rocketed above $19,000 Thursday on the Coinbase exchange before plummeting. Pressure on prices continued Friday morning.

Besides holding a market value, bitcoin is also a digital currency that's created by so-called miners with powerful computers online. The digital currency has no central authority, and the transactions are recorded in an anonymous public log called the blockchain.

Proponents argue bitcoin, which has risen more than 1,000 percent this year, is a good medium of exchange and a way to store value, much like gold. But critics, including JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, doubt the legitimacy of bitcoin as either. Dimon has repeatedly called bitcoin a "fraud."

In addition to trading bitcoin in the unregulated cash market, CME Group and Cboe Global Markets are set to unveil bitcoin futures, which add a layer of federal government oversight on the contracts.

Cboe bitcoin futures are to begin trading on Sunday. The CME contracts are slated to launch on Dec. 18. Nasdaq, meanwhile, plans to launch its own bitcoin futures as early as the second quarter of 2018.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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