I went to a seminar on Bitcoin earlier this month called Bitcoin 101. I didn’t go to learn about the electronic currency that hit $671 today– I went to learn about the deepest, truest believers. I expected fanatics; some variant of the guns & ammo gold bugs who expect a collapse of governments or society any day. What I found surprised me.

The meet-up was at a place called the Bitcoin Embassy here in Montreal. It’s an ambitious project that fills a three-story building on a main commercial street. Each floor is about 2000-square-feet including retail frontage.

Bitcoin embassy

Bitcoin embassy building in Montreal. Humble on the outside so far but impressive inside

It’s billed as a place for Bitcoin education and meetups but primarily as a start-up incubator. They discouraged Bitcoin trading at the offices because of the risk of rip-offs or robberies (think of someone meeting up with $10,000 to buy Bitcoin).

It’s an ambitious project and the people I spoke with hinted that the money behind it had already grown fantastically rich on Bitcoin and wanted to re-invest.

The seminar wasn’t a sales job. There was no talking about why anyone there should buy Bitcoin. The staff was humble and said Bitcoin could rise to $10,000 or could fall to zero. In short, these were professional, thoughtful people; optimistic maybe but not dreamers.

They wanted to help people understand the concept and their main emphasis was security. It became abundantly clear to me that keeping your Bitcoin safe is a major hurdle and that stealing Bitcoin is, or will be, a tremendous business.

It’s also clear that much of the money made in Bitcoin won’t be in trading, it will be in services. If you look at the history of gold rushes, it was rarely the prospectors who got rich, instead it was the businessmen who bilked them. Tools that allow merchants to accept Bitcoin and technology for transactions and security will be big. Making a market in the physical world will also be valuable.

The other ‘students’ the seminar were interesting as well. There was an accountant looking to accept Bitcoin payments, an investor who wanted to buy $100,000 worth of Bitcoin and others who were quiet and curious.

It’s obvious to me that a big part of Bitcoin will be moving money across borders and money laundering, not the low-cost transactions that proponents envision.

The bottom line: Serious people with serious money are getting involved in Bitcoin. Ultimately, regulation and security will be major problems for Bitcoin but the right kind of people are pushing it and I suspect we’ll see it hit $10,000 before it hits zero.

Today’s comments (which even read like a mild endorsement) from Ben Bernanke will only speed along the process.

Bitcoin price chart

Bitcoin price chart