The Bank of England are all set to release new plastic banknotes for the first time, with a new design featuring Sir Winston Churchill on the £5 note and Jane Austen on the £10.
Churchill will start appearing in 2016 and Austen will follow in 2017.
This switch comes after a 3 years of research that found these new polymer notes to be cleaner, last longer and more difficult to counterfeit.
The public were asked too and after handling them, 87% were in favour of polymer with 6% opposed (7% didn’t care either way).
Governor Mark Carney said: “Ensuring trust and confidence in money is at the heart of what central banks do. Polymer notes are the next step in the evolution of bank note design to meet that objective.”
“The quality of polymer notes is higher, they are more secure from counterfeiting, and they can be produced at a lower cost to the taxpayer and the environment.”
Sadly, the Queen will still be on the front unless she dies.
A payday lender, by the name of firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk (catchy), had been hit with a fine of £175,000 for sending out millions of illegal spam text messages, many of them sent as if they were your friend, such as “Hi Mate hows u? I’m still out in town, just got £850 in my account from these guys www.firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk”.
4,031 people complained about the company behind the spam - First Financial – to the Information Commissioner’s Office which also saw further action from the Advertising Standards Authority.
It transpired that the messages were sent using unregistered SIM cards, so the company couldn’t be detected. However, all the texts referred everyone to firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk, a trading name used by First Financial. Obviously, they weren’t difficult to track down.
This all comes on the back of the company’s formerly sole director Hamed Shabani was prosecuted by the ICO. ICO director of operations, Simon Entwisle, said: “People are fed up with this menace and they are not willing to be bombarded with nuisance calls and text messages at all times of the day trying to get them to sign up to high interest loans.”
“The fact that this individual tried to distance himself from the unlawful activities of his company shows the kind of individuals we’re dealing with here. We will continue to target these companies that continue to blight the daily lives of people across the UK.”
“We are also currently speaking with the government to get the legal bar lowered, allowing us to take action at a much earlier stage.”
It’s Christmas time. There’s no need to be afraid of financial products, at least that’s what Which! would have you believe. Still, all I want for Christmas is (a) useful list of financial things that I don’t need- leaving you free to be rocking around the Christmas tree with your new iPod* and your mistletoe and wine.
Helpfully, Which! have come up with a top ten list of things you really don’t need to spend your money on- which leaves you more money for presents and your Christmas wrapping. After all, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas now, what with all the panic buying, traffic, and jammed supermarkets. And it’s Christmas Eve this time next week.
The top ten shapes up like this:
1. Extended warranties – many electrical products are already covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, the Sale of Goods Act, or home insurance. A previous Which? investigation found that staff made exaggerated claims about what was covered. Which is putting it politely.
2. Charity credit cards – not the most efficient way to donate to a cause, you would need to spend £129,600 on a typical charity credit card in just a year in order to donate the average given by UK donors (£27 a month). You’d be able to give more by taking out the best cashback credit card and donating the cashback. The same goes for Pampers nappies. Instead of letting international massive conglomerate Proctor and Gamble give a fraction of a penny per pack to Unicef, just buy one pack of supermarket nappies and give Unicef £4. If you like.
3. Gift cards or vouchers – if the company goes bust there’s no guarantee consumers will still be able to use them, so cash or cheque maybe a safer bet. And can more easily be spent on wine/women/song (delete as appropriate)
4. Healthcare cash plans –someone with fairly low level health needs could end up paying more in premiums than you get in benefits and in our scenario would be on average £1,023 down over five years. Which! think it may be better to self-insure after checking figures with the top 5 providers (Simplyhealth, Westfield, BHSF, Healthshield, HSF Health Plan)
5. ID fraud-protection policies – the benefits are often not worth paying for as consumers are covered by their banks for losses due to fraud. People can also check for any unusual activity on their £2 statutory credit report. This is a product that has been mis-sold in the past.
6. Expensive tracker funds – some funds charge three times more than the cheapest to manage investors’ money which can have a big impact on returns. Consumers should switch providers if they’re paying over the odds. Which don’t specifiy what the odds are. But presumably they are worse than evens.
7. Structured deposit schemes – these are sometimes sold without proper advice and charges are not made clear. Some schemes don’t achieve the returns that they advertise and aren’t likely to. Which! want the Financial Conduct Authority to ban misleading adverts and to stop banks getting commission for recommending them. We’re not even sure what they are, but just don’t buy them anyway.
8. Over-50s insurance plans – plans often pay out less than you could save over the same period. A 60-year old non-smoker, paying premiums of £15 a month, would qualify for an average pay out of £3,334 after 30 years, but it would only take around 15 years to beat this by investing in a cash ISA with 3% interest on average.
9. Paid-for debt management – debt charities such as StepChange offer good-quality and impartial advice for free, so there’s no need to pay for this.
10. Card protection – people are already protected against being a victim of fraud, and the extra benefits such as key cover can often be found more cheaply elsewhere. Another product that was mis-sold. Surprising.
From inside a red suit and white beard, Father Whichmas Richard Lloyd chuckled: “There are still far too many financial products on the market that are risky or offer poor value for money and some that are being mis-sold to consumers. We want the financial regulator to take tough action and crackdown where it finds evidence of poor practice.”
“Ho, ho ho, ” he finished.
* other music playing devices are available.
After Tesco announced they were going to start offering a current account to customers, Virgin Money are going to do the same as of 2014, with both companies taking advantage of new rules that allow everyone to change their bank accounts in seven days.
Currently, Virgin is piloting the new current accounts with some of its staff, but it looks likely that they’ll be offering them up to the general public in Spring 2014. The initial launch will be aimed at people without an account, which will be a basic, no-charges account where you get a debit card but no overdraft.
Later next year, they should have a more sophisticated account, once they’d settled on the finer details of it all.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Virgin have dealt with people’s finances. Years ago, they had the Virgin One mortgage deals, before they sold it to RBS where it became The One Account. Virgin also bought out Northern Rock and it seems they’re finally going to make use of that branch of the business.
There’s renewed interest in new current accounts and making a challenge to high street banks as the old guard have got a pretty lousy name for themselves after a spate of scandals and technical blunders. A shuffling of government regulations means that there’ll be a separation between retail and investment banking too, which will invariably result in banks to increasing fees for current accounts, so the more competition, the better it is for us.
In yet another attempt to prefix days of the week with stupid words and then try to make them a thing, today is apparently called MELTDOWN FRIDAY. Does it mean that we will all fall through the earth’s crust and into its fiery core? Well no. It means that loads of people will do their Christmas shopping today. Wait, where are you going?
Retailers are braced for the busiest shopping day of the year today, when pre-Christmas gift-buying hits its peak and the British public will spend a whopping £1.3 billion. Debit and credit cards will receive a bashing, with people spending approximately £870 million on them, and there’ll also be £500 million spent in cash. The rest will be electronic payments and cheques.
A study from the Centre of Retail Research says that sales are due to peak around…NOW. Well, in ten minutes, anyway. That’s when Britain’s tills are merrily melting with the strain of processing all those onesies and Aramis gift sets and Furbys.
Britain is predicted to spend a total of £36 billion on mince pies, tinsel and presents that nobody likes this year – up 4% from last year. And in January, we’ll all be looking at a credit card bill of a painful £9bn.
Will it be worth it? Nah. But let’s do it anyway.
Tesco have made a big technological step with the successful launch of their Hudl tablet, and now they’re getting serious about banking. They’re currently having a recruitment drive ahead of the 2014 launch of its first range of current accounts.With confidence in many high street banks low, Tesco have timed their run perfectly.
Benny Higgins, chief executive, said: “We are making excellent progress towards the launch of our current account next year and the recruitment of these new roles is an important milestone in that process.”
Tesco launched their banking service in 1997 as a joint-venture with RBS. Since then, Tesco took complete control over the business and is looking to expand, on top of their credit card wing which saw customers spending £12bn a year with them. Tesco are also raking it in with their personal loans, currently topping industry rankings by sales.
Benny Higgins continued: “This is all about ensuring we can offer the best service to our customers. Everything Tesco does is done with our customers in mind and our current account will be no exception.”
So, what was once Tesco Personal Finance is now Tesco Bank and the company got rid of all staff sales targets and bonuses connected to selling products, as Higgins saying: ”I took the view that incentives and targets are ineluctably corrosive. That single move refocused people on focusing on the customers.”
Crucially, Tesco have built a bank using new, reliable IT and computer systems, which means they’ve got one up on their old partners, the RBS Group.
Will Tesco be able to convince you to switch banks, or are you wary of how big the retailer is already?
Last week, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement was full of Good News about how well we are doing with the economy and how completely smashing George’s recovery plan has been. However, it seems that the general populace, the voters, are less impressed with Mr Osborne, with more than four in ten of us (41%) believing last week’s announcements will leave us worse off.
And that’s one of the better scores for the Chancellor. A survey of almost 4,000 people by USwitch.com found that almost two thirds of us (65%) are concerned about the country’s finances after the announcements, with 56% saying the same about their own financial circumstances following the Autumn Statement.
But we are also worried about what was not included in the Statement. When asked about issues not tackled by the Chancellor, three quarters of us (74%) felt care for the elderly should have been dealt with, along with payday loans (61%) and low savings rates (56%).
Unsurprisingly, the Chancellor’s big ticket item, the change in State Pension age, has not been popular, with almost six in ten people (59%) opposed to the change. Most of us (73%) think the Chancellor does not understand the financial fears of ordinary people and almost as many (69%) don’t trust the Government to make the best decisions for our financial future. Looking good for the 2015 election there, George.
Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, says: “The Autumn Statement has left most consumers deflated. The focus on the economy might be good for the financial health of the nation, but it has left individuals still feeling under the weather. The recovery is yet to reach their finances.”
“Increasing the retirement age so that many will now have to work until they are 70 was never going to win any friends even though most people understand the reasoning behind it. For existing pensioners, a rise of £2.95 a week to the state pension simply isn’t enough to help them cope with the spiralling cost of living. Even today another energy supplier has announced a price hike, which will eat into this small increase,” he finished.
So what do you think? Are you one of the 41% of people who are happy with the State Pension age increase (and is that because you escape its effects?), or are there other measures you think will adversely impact on your personal finances? Surely there was some Christmas cheer, with the freeze in fuel duty if nothing else?
Remember the days when we used to just have one Budget a year? Of course, the Autumn Statement under the coalition is very definitely not a mini-budget (according to them)- although a number of tax and benefit measures were announced. So what are the main ones, and how do they affect you?
Pensions and benefits
Leaked before the actual statement, the Chancellor announced that the State Pension age will be increasing sooner than previously advised, with a minimum age of 68 by the mid 2030s and 69 by the late 2040s. If you have children now, they won’t be able to retire until they are 101.
This means that anyone younger than mid-forties is looking at an increase in retirement age, to keep pensions in line with the latest life expectancy projections, apparently. George did not, however, address the issue of the wildly different life expectancies (figures from the ONS) depending on where in the country you live…
State pension and jobseekers benefits will also be excluded from the welfare spending cap- where the Government is going to tighten the welfare purse strings and allow the lower classes to fight it out amongst themselves for a share of the pot. And heaven help you if you become incapacitated at the end of the financial year, when it’s all been spent.
Cars and fuel
Another pre-announcement was the scrapping of tax discs for cars. Unfortunately this does not mean the Road Fund Licence is being scrapped, merely the perforated circle of paper attached to your windscreen. From 2015 the system will be completely online (most evaders are currently caught through number plate recognition rather than inspection of said perforated circle) and drivers will be able to pay for the disc monthly through direct debit, rather than 6 or 12 monthly as at present. The current rates for 6 month licences are around 10% higher than the annual disc- both this and the direct debit option should come in cheaper from 2015 with a 5% premium instead.
The next fuel duty rise has also been scrapped. After all the Government cares deeply about “hard-working families”.
On top of the personal allowance rising to £10,000 from April, the one policy the Lib Dems have actually managed to get through, the Autumn Statement confirmed some family-friendly measures that have already been wafted about.
The transferable married couple (or civilly partnered couple) allowance will become a reality, but only for those households where one member does not work, or works very little, earning £9,000 or less a year. Up to £1,000 of personal allowance can be transferred to a spouse, saving 20% in tax (£200 a year).
For those with small children, after reading a report by two posh foodies, the Government has also decided to introduce free school meals for every infant school age child (4-7) in years Reception to year 2 starting from next September. Junior children can fend for themselves.
At an average cost of around £2 per day, that equates to a fairly impressive £390 a year saving for parents. Of course, parents will be free to choose whether their child takes free dinners or whether they would rather send sandwiches, at least for now- the report the Government are acting on actually advised that sandwiches were so evil, they should be banned from schools altogether. Presumably along with all children with food allergies and other dietary requirements that would mean they can’t eat State-approved food…
The High Street
Even the Government has noticed that the High Street is suffering somewhat, and has announced a raft of business rates measures aimed at rejuvenating the shops near you. Discounts, £1,000 reduction in bills and reoccupation relief might mean that you see some new shops offering keen prices to compete with the not-cold-and-windy option of shopping online.
But watch out, you might be more likely to be served by a spotty teenager. A new concession for workers under 21 will save employers national insurance for these workers- up to £1,000 per worker earning £16,000- making them much cheaper to employ than those ancient 21 year olds.
There were lots of other figures in the Autumn Statement- some changes to capital gains tax rules on residential properties, and lots and lots of new figures showing how the last figures were all wrong. The new figures clearly show what A Grand Job George has been doing. We’ll all just have to wait until the next Statement to hear how wrong these figures were and how much even better George is doing just before the 2015 election…
Three are rolling out 4G in London, Birmingham and Manchester, which is fine but pretty boring news. However, more interesting for the pocket is that they’re going to be giving everyone free roaming in The States and parts of Europe.
In short, that means no extra charges for making calls, sending texts or data unless they are calling non-UK numbers. Three’s deal also includes Macau, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Dave Dyson, Chief Executive of Three said: “We want customers to get the most out of their devices at home or abroad. High roaming charges stop people enjoying their phones while they’re away and Feel At Home is the antidote to that.”
“Adding the USA to the mix is great news for our customers and shows our commitment to giving them the best experience in what is a popular destination. We plan to add more countries to the mix soon.”
This ‘Feel at Home’ offer is available in 11 countries including Ireland, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong, Austria, Sweden and Denmark and as a result, Three have added 300,000 new customers between July and September 2013, which is most likely a result of deals like this one. Their 321 PAYG deal has also won a lot of new fans.
Dave Dyson, said: “We are building a brand and network that encourages and enables customers to enjoy the mobile internet. Customers are using more data than ever on Three, far more than on any other network. As we add 4G capacity to the network, this experience will only get better.”
Tempted to change?
According to a GOV.UK poll, the USA receives 5.5 million British visitors a year. In Europe, Italy gets around 2.5 million and Austria 730,000. All three regions are now covered by Three’s “Feel at Home” service. Happy travelling!
New figures from the Bank of England shows that we have all given up on the idea of saving for the future- collectively taking £23 billion out of long term savings in the last 12 months. That equates to £900 per household and analysts have calculated that this is the fastest rate of withdrawal of nest eggs for almost 40 years.
However, this isn’t necessarily bad news. Much of this money has either been shifted into instant access savings accounts or current accounts for immediate spending ability or it has actually been spent. While spending might not help individuals’ financial outlook, consumer spending does help boost the national economy, and could lead to greater prosperity through new jobs and possibly even payrises.
But you can’t blame people for dumping their notice accounts- with many paying piffling rates of interest you may as well earn nothing in an account where you can access your money more easily. Perhaps people are just getting cannier with their cash and looking at alternative investments to offer a more meaningful return.
Peer to peer lending has been on the radar for some time, with some lenders offering guaranteed returns (ie you are protected from bad debts) that beat deposit rates into a cocked hat. These have become so popular that rumour has it the Chancellor will announce a consultation on Thursday into whether such investments could be held tax-free within an ISA wrapper in future. This type of investment will come under FCA governance next year, and many already have robust financial management systems and protection in case of going bump, but remember that investments here are not covered by the FSCS £85,000 protection.
Perhaps people are just sticking cash in ISAs instead? 100% of an interest rate is better than 80% of it (after 20% tax deducted at source), even if it is teensy weensy- many ISA accounts are no-notice accounts and classed as short term savings even if the intention is to hold the cash there for some time. ISA limits are also something that may come up in the Autumn Statement- people have cottoned on to the idea that they could substitute ISA saving for pension saving without the restrictions and the Chancellor may therefore decide to impose an overall limit on contribution to spoil our fun.
Or maybe people are throwing caution to the wind and going for the riskier side of investing. While investing directly in company shares can be treacherous, it can also be lucrative, as the Royal Mail shareholders can testify (note that the subsequent Merlin Entertainments and Infinis Energy IPOs have not been as successful in the short term). But there are less drastic ways of trying to make a turn- corporate bonds are making a comeback as an attractive investment, as they often offer higher rates than banks or Government stocks. Here, you are essentially lending the company money, and at the end of the term, you should get your loan amount back, plus a sensible amount of interest. Assuming the company doesn’t go bust that is…
You can find examples of available corporate bonds through a broker, for example this 5% bond with Premier Oil plc.
As ever, whatever you decide to do with your money should be a considered decision made after determining how much risk you are prepared to take with the cash. And if the answer is “none”, you might decide to stick with miniscule bank returns. Or invest in a new telly.
So the Government don’t want the energy companies to freeze prices but the opposition do? While the politicians wrangle over the best political leverage, ordinary householders are more concerned about paying their bills and keeping warm. Good job the weatherman was right about those massive November snowdrifts then. But as we move into the coldest season, is fixing energy prices the right way to go and what are the best deals? If you don’t fix, what might happen to your bills?
Part of the problem with this winter’s impending bills is the fact that most of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies have recently increased their tariffs just in time to reap the maximum profit out of their cold customers- to date Eon is the only one of the six to have not yet announced a rise. However, there are some fixed deals available that can guarantee that prices won’t rise (again) for 12-18 months- or even into 2016. But is fixing the way to go?
If you are currently on a named tariff you may be getting a ‘discount’ from the suppliers standard prices, but this doesn’t mean that prices can’t rise and they generally will rise in line with headline prices. Much like a fixed rate mortgage deal, fixed rate energy prices will not go up for the duration of the fix, although bills may change depending on your usage. However, assuming you use a similar amount of energy as last year, or less if you switch to energy saving lightbulbs (!), you can estimate how much your bill is going to be in advance, with no nasty price rises.
However, fixed prices may be higher than variable prices- according to Which some fixes could be up to 20% higher, as a premium to be sure you won’t face unexpected rises. There will normally be a penalty fee should you wish to switch out of a fix before the end of the fix period, although many suppliers also charge a penalty for switching out within a defined period, often a year, even without fixed prices. Finally, if prices go down, as everyone earnestly hopes*, if you have fixed, you won’t benefit from the drop.
But note that, if you are with one of the raised price Big Six, even 20% higher prices from a competitor might end up being cheaper. Which! investigated the market and came up with a list of the top five fixed rate switches, all from Eon and OVO who have, so far, not raised prices.
Based on an ‘average’ bill, the top five come in as:
Eon Energy Fixed 1 Year (online version) v5 – £1,167.63
Eon Age UK Energy Fixed 1 Year (online version) v5 – £1,167.63
Ovo Energy New Energy Fixed + Ovo Just Reward – £1,175.38
Eon Energy Fixed 1 Year (offline version) v5 – £1,178.13
Eon Age UK Energy Fixed 1 Year (offline version) v5 – £1,178.13
Unfortunately, two of this top five are only available to those over 65, so to add to the list, First Utility are offering longer fixes for those who like long term peace of mind, with offerings fixed until June 2015 or even into January 2016, although the rate increases for the longer fix. Still based on the Government’s negotiations with EDF, it could still be a great deal given anticipated price rises in the next 2 and a bit years.
If you don’t want to fix, and are happy to surf the variable rates, top of most comparison tables is relative unknown Spark Energy’s Spark Advance 2, cheapest at £1,116.41 a year.
*but no one believes will actually happen
Customers are losing thousands of pounds each year in fees and charges just for being with the wrong bank, according to new research from Which!!! What’s worse is that no-one can figure out how to compare account to get a better deal.
Which!!! compared overdraft charges, interest and the cost of using your card overseas between 21 current account providers. They found that by simply having the wrong type of account, you could be paying more than £2,000 in charges.
They say: “In our worst case scenario, going overdrawn without permission and having payments rejected could cost an extra £183 in fees and charges a month with the most expensive account, Bank of Ireland Clear Account Level 1, compared to the least expensive, the Halifax Reward Current Account. If you did this every month, it would add up to a massive £2,197 over a year.”
“Even if you only use an authorised overdraft for just a few days a month, you could be around £120 worse off a year if you bank using TSB’s, Lloyds’ or Bank of Scotland’s Classic Account, rather than Clydesdale Bank or Yorkshire Bank’s Current Account Direct. Our latest consumer insight research shows up to five million households are using their authorised overdraft facility.”
What is confusing customers is that banks are making information readily available which doesn’t help if we’re trying to compare accounts so we can find one best suited. At present, the charges are so mystifying and complex, that no-one ever really knows what they’re being charged for.
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which!!!, said: “Our research lays bare the huge difference in fees and charges between current accounts. With many households relying on their overdrafts to cope with the rising cost of living, we’re calling on the Chancellor to force banks to release information so consumers can make sense of the way they use their account and choose the one that is best for them.”
“Unless banks make it simple for people to compare the cost of running a current account, the new switching guarantee alone will fail to transform switching rates or significantly increase competition in banking.”
Energy bills are still big news. And getting bigger. With energy companies now being blamed for contributing to a rise in the number of ‘extra’ deaths in the winter of 2012/13, where people are actually dying of the cold, is it any wonder that responsible energy companies are doing all they can to cut costs?
Following on from earlier announcements, Npower have now confirmed that 1,460 jobs (out of a current total of 9,600) in the UK are to be axed as part of cost saving measures, that also included the sale of 770,000 customers to Utility Warehouse. The jobs will be lost in Stoke on Trent, Oldbury, Leeds and Sunderland.
In a statement, Npower said: “As we announced a couple of months ago, Npower has been undertaking a major review of sites, operations and people across the UK. We’ve been doing this to improve our customer service and keep our costs down, at a time of external pressures on customers’ bills.” So what it looks like is that we said we wanted lower energy bills, Npower has listened to our concerns, and is taking action to help deliver this, right?
Perhaps. The statement actually talks about reducing costs, not reducing bills, and comes off the back of Npower owner, German energy company RWE tutting over a 3% fall in Npower’s operating profits to a piddling £176m (206m euros) in the first half of 2013. While certainly undertaken “at a time of…pressures on bills”, this cost-cutting move is more likely to benefit shareholders than householders.
Lets just say we’re not holding our breath in the hope of lower Npower bills despite the massive money-saving job cull. Merry Christmas folks.
Remember that loan you got out years ago that allowed you to buy Blastaways, fags and occasionally pay the rent on that condemned basement you lived in with the Bob Marley poster and the rats? Did you pay it off yet? Or did you change your name, move house and pretend it never happened?
Well plenty of people have done just that, it would seem, and the amount of outstanding student loans is set to reach £200 billion by 2042. At the moment, according to the National Audit Office, the total amount borrowed is £46bn, and the Student Loan Company is sitting on a mountain of unaccounted for loans totalling £5bn. A further 368000 had no employment record in the UK, and if they then started work, they had failed to tell Student Loans tax or information about earnings.
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills assumed 35% of loans that would go unpaid but now that figure is closer to 40%. They also miscalculated how many students could pay back the new higher rate student loans. And as you can imagine that’s left a little hole in the budget, to the tune of £600m.
Labour MP Liam Byrne said: ‘In May, the Universities Minister was boasting of the governments ‘text book reforms.’ Now, we learn that blundering, out-of-touch ministers got their sums so badly wrong that there’s a £600m hole in the budget. We need to know how ministers got it so wrong, and how they’re going to fix it without putting Britain’s scientists, schools and colleges under threat.’
God, chill out, man. Be more like an ageing student. Make a bong out of a bottle of White Lightning and watch Betty Blue on DVD or something. It’ll get paid back. (Maybe.)
You know how it is. You’re upgrading your computer, so you chuck out your old one, giving it up to linger in a landfill forever more. BUT WAIT! Your hard drive was full of Bitcoins from 2009, which were nothing but worthless pixels back then. You had 7500 stored on there, which you’d generated yourself. And now they’re worth £613 each. Which means…YOU THREW £4,597,000 IN THE BIN YOU ****** IDIOT.
Well, that’s what happened to IT worker James Howells from Newport, South Wales, who was tidying up his drawers one day and decided to throw out his knackered machine. He’d forgotten about his crazy Bitcoin generating phase, and got rid of it last year.
Bitcoin launched in 2009, and you used to be able to make them yourself on an ordinary computer. Now it’s become increasingly harder to generate them, and they have grown in value – today they fetch $1000 each.
James explained: ‘I hadn’t kept up on Bitcoin, I’d been distracted. I’d had a couple of kids since then, I’d been doing the house up, and forgot about it until it was in the news again. There’s a pot of gold there for someone… it’s my mistake throwing the hard drive out, at the end of the day.’
Poor, foolish James. Now, digging it up would be like looking for bitcoins in a crapheap. According to landfill officials in Newport, the computer could be anywhere amongst the acres of festering rubbish, and buried approximately four feet deep.
*Puts on wellies*