You’ve heard of Bitcoin, Ethereum, likely Dogecoin by now. Is it a fast way to get rich? Well… I’ll tell you how it’s going for me
I didn’t think I’d be the sort of person to explore how to get into crypto. I’d heard a bit about it but had never been attracted.
Some years ago, a mate of mine called Daz told me to buy Bitcoin. To give this some framework, Daz is a serial agitator and social disruptor, with a background in challenging ‘The Man’ and seeking alternative lifestyles.
He explained how it was digital, and wasn’t 3D like the tenner in my pocket. It was created by a mysterious figure called Satoshi Nakamoto whom nobody knew, and it was going to disrupt the standardised currencies of the world. He talked about blockchains and wallets and I sort of understood it. “Anarchic,” I thought.
Some of this sounded attractive. Some of it sounded like nonsense. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe Daz, it just sounded vague, I wasn’t really interested. At the time, one bitcoin was under a dollar. Jump forward to April 2021 and Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $63,707.34. If I’d invested even a hundred quid then, I’d have been sitting on nearly half a million at that point – around £460,000.
That’s a pretty good yield for a ten-year investment, at such a low stake. But this is an extreme example, and Bitcoin has been through many ups and downs during that time. Summer 2021 saw it drop down to around the $31,000 mark. But understandably I find myself wishing I’d taken a leap of faith. Sorry Daz, you did tell me.
OK crypto, let’s have a look then…
Fast forward to 2020 and the pandemic, and I found myself with a sudden interest in investing money. I figured airline shares were crashing, but would rise again, maybe a good punt. So I rang another mate of mine, Steve, a futures broker. What did he think? Should I buy into Easyjet? Their shares were through the floor.
He had a look and advised wait a bit, it would go lower. We talked about how I could buy some shares, and how it all worked. He was really helpful, giving me calm and measured advice. This is a man who has traded and made millions for his clients, I trusted him implicitly. So what did I do next?
I bought Dogecoin.
Steve called. “So, you’ve essentially gone through the process of looking at a fairly sensible investment with a safe yield, to buying a shitcoin with no development team and no utility options?”
I still don’t know why I made that decision. Perhaps because it was so cheap. Definitely because the memes on Twitter about it were hilarious. Partly because I’d seen Elon Musk shilling it. And I liked the idea – it was fun. So I bought a ton of it at $0.03, and joined the #DogeArmy.
Steve called. “So, you’ve essentially gone through the process of looking at a fairly sensible investment with a safe yield, to buying a shitcoin with no development team and no utility options?” he asked. I had to admit that yes, that was exactly what I’d done.
But I didn’t care; I was having a ball. Dogecoin was rising, and I figured I’d invested so little, so I didn’t care. It was keeping me amused, spending hours on Twitter laughing at Doge memes and watching my wallet grow (glossary of crypto terms at the bottom). I was also amused at how irritated the Bitcoin maxis were getting. One Bitcoiner I know posted in a chat group, “why won’t Doge just go away?!!” I’m afraid I chuckled.
Dogecoin continued to rise, so in a fit of being sensible, I bought into Bitcoin, using my Doge profits. And then some Ether because hey why not. And when Dogecoin hit around the $0.70 mark I had some kind of God-given flash of insight and sold enough to pay off my original stake. The timing was perfect – it’s dropped steadily since then, and currently sits at around $0.19 mark. Basically now I am playing with house money across the board. I can tell you, it makes the game a lot less stressful.
Shitcoins can ruin lives… really fast
Not everyone has been lucky like me. Many bought into Doge when it was close to its ATH, buying in at $0.69, thinking it would go ‘to the moon’, and then watching their money disappear. Many have lost a great deal. And not just on Doge – on all sorts of shitcoins. The scams are myriad.
So this brings me to the point of crypto. A lot of where the heart of this lies is in its usage. Are you buying crypto because you want to decentralise finance and take the power away from banks and the old boys club? Or are you buying it as an investment, like you would buy gold, or stocks?
Are you buying crypto because you want to decentralise finance… Or are you buying it as an investment?
The original Bitcoiners didn’t set up to be a commodity. The idea was to take away the power, to have a currency that people could use to buy things, tip each other, purchase stuff… really stick it to The Man. The way all cryptocurrencies work is that ‘nobody’ is in charge. Anyone can mine coins, with the right kit, and anyone can work on development; nobody runs the game. But increasingly that’s not how it all feels to me.
I’m no expert, so this is all just my opinion, but it seems to me that Bitcoin is leaning towards acting like the very thing it railed against. Bitcoin maxis are consistently aggravated by altcoins taking over some of their market capital. They see Bitcoin and its finite supply as the future of de-fi, and for a currency that’s supposed to not be centralised, it really does kinda feel like they want to be front and centre. And just like fiat, there is a small number of people who own a very large proportion of the currency in circulation. It’s also very male oriented. So how is this different to banks and fiat billionaires?
At the time of writing, Bitcoin has just been adopted by El Salvador as a legal tender, to mixed reception, and it looks like Paraguay is going the same way. Poorer countries are seeing Bitcoin as a way of escaping the dominance of the dollar and build themselves some independence. But it’s clear not everyone in El Salvador is happy – the need for internet access and a device to actually use Bitcoin prevents many of them being able to use the currency, so mass adoption still has some way to go.
So is it worth throwing everything at Bitcoin?
This is a hard question, which goes back to the ‘why you are in it’ consideration. Bitcoin maxis would say yes, of course. And there’s an elegance in just stacking sats, as they call it, and watching it grow. Bitcoin is by far the most stable cryptocurrency – you are far less likely to lose your investment.
But if you’re in there for the fun of it too, like me, then dabbling with other coins can be attractive. I’ve got lucky a couple of times, buying low and selling high, but it takes time, watching and checking the markets. I’m increasingly falling into a more hands-off pattern. I hold Bitcoin, Ether and a few other bits and bobs, but I’m done with the dicking about. I got lucky, I’m not going to push it. I’m just glad the money I have tied up in my portfolio isn’t something I’m relying on, or risking.
There is SO MUCH I’m not including in this article about Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency world, and how it all works, and what FUD does, and what the four phases of investment mean and so on. But I’ve only so much space here. I think another article might have to happen.
But I’m not a crypto millionaire. In fact, aside from cleverly selling my Doge at its ATH my crypto wallet is noodling along okay, but I’m not rich out of it. I’m a classic noob – I’ve made mistakes. But I didn’t panic sell, and what goes down, generally comes back up again. So it’s important to have ‘diamond hands’ and some patience!
Anyway, the biggest bit of advice I have for anyone thinking of getting involved is only to invest what you can afford, and do your own research. And hopefully we can all go to the moon some day. I just don’t know if it will be Bitcoin that takes us.
Bitcoin maxi (maximalist) – a coiner who believes only Bitcoin is valid
Shitcoin – coins with little stability, likely to pump and burn fast
Altcoins – alternatives to maincoin (Bitcoin) that are a bit more serious
Fiat – ‘normal’ government-issue money
De-Fi – decentralised finance
Dogecoin – a shitcoin based on the Doge meme, originally created to mock the crypto world
ATH – all time high
Sats – short for Satoshi, the smallest denomination of Bitcoin – 1 sat = 0.00000001 BTC
Noob – a person new to the game
Whale – a person or body (such as a trading platform) who holds a huge amount of coin
FUD – fear, uncertainty, doubt
Diamond hands – when you steel yourself and hold your coins and don’t panic sell
Sam is Silver’s founder and editor-in-chief. She’s largely responsible for organising all the things, but still finds time to do the odd bit of writing. Not enough though. Send help.