Winklevoss twins become bitcoin billionaires

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Winklevoss twins (Source: Getty)

The twin brothers who lost out to Mark Zuckerberg for the control over Facebook have become bitcoin billionaires.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss took a gamble on the currency four years ago with an $11m investment – the sum of which they gained from a $65m settlement from Zuckerberg in 2008.

The brothers claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook and sued.

The $11m investment, however, has since increased by almost 10,000 per cent, making it the first billion-dollar return made by a cryptocurrency investor.

Despite its success, bitcoin has sparked much debate in recent years, with critics calling a “bitcoin bubble”.

In September, JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon slammed cryptocurrencies as a "fraud", which caused its value to slide.

Other heavy weights such as Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein have also come out against it, while the Federal Reserve has issued a warning over its financial stability.

Read more: Bitcoin rose back above $11,000

True, its price has yo-yoed since its creation. The controversial asset rose back above the $11,000 on Saturday for the first time since Wednesday, which is when the cryptocurrency broke the mark.

Such gains have seen early backers such as the Winklevoss twins now reap the rewards.

The brothers’ return has not been disclosed although it is estimated to be around 100,000 bitcoins, a figure that will further cement their re-brand as bitcoin entrepreneurs.

Last year, Tyler Winklevoss told the Telegraph the currency could be worth trillions and was “like a better version of gold”.

Other notable investors in the cryptocurrency include infamous entrepreneur Charlie Shrem, who aside from being an early backer, received a two-year prison sentence for charges relating to money laundering.

The secretive inventor of the Bitcoin currency – known as Satoshi Nakamoto – is still unknown.

Becoming a decentralised digital currency in 2009, bitcoin is both created and held electronically. Its recent success can be in part attributed to Asia, with Japan recently legalising it as an official method of payment.

An increasing number of other countries are now getting regulators to look at bitcoin and investing in blockchain, which legitimises the cryptocurrency. It is not backed by any central bank.

Read more: Bitcoin bubble grows as banks fall flat

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