Any asset that has grown as fast as Bitcoin is sure to attract massive speculative interest, including from those who do not bother to understand even its basics. But there are others who have taken pains to research the space well, and have either invested in a crypto asset or are building solutions for it.
The Bitcoin phenomenon has taken the world by storm, and for many young Indians, the cryptocurrency space has presented an opportunity not just to learn more about the system that has wide applications in the real world but also to achieve financial freedom through it.
Bitcoin’s phenomenal price rise has attracted a vast horde of traders and investors who think of it as a quick-rich scheme, with many failing to do even the basic research into its fundamentals and promise. Sure enough, you will find media reports talking about young traders huddling together in WhatsApp or Telegram groups, egging each other on, and ‘hodling’ crypto assets.
Any asset that has grown as fast as Bitcoin is sure to attract massive speculative interest, including from those who do not bother to understand even its basics.
But there are others who have taken pains to research the space well, and have either invested in a crypto asset or are building solutions for it.
A good example is Kashif Raza, who in 2017, made some money by investing in Bitcoin. Bitten by the bug, the then salaried Raza decided to take a large personal loan and invested in what he thought was a Bitcoin offering. The app, however, turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, and Raza lost money.
“I realized it wasn’t Bitcoin that had cheated me,” Raza said, and together with a friend, he started Crypto Kanoon, a Twitter and YouTube platform with the aim of creating awareness about the crypto space. Today, Crypto Kanoon has over 100,000 subscribers, where Raza makes an effort to help people educate users about cryptocurrencies.
One of the biggest success stories to come out from India is the Polygon network (previously called Matic), built by Sandeep Naiwal, Jaynti Kanani and Anurag Arjun. Today, the Polygon cryptocurrency is among the world’s biggest, having a market cap of nearly $10 billion.
Kanani, an engineer who started off with a salary of Rs 6,000, says he first heard of Bitcoin in 2016.
“I soon realized the potential of this transformative technology and the vast opportunity it presented for tech builders like myself to start up on their own and get a headstart to develop their own products in the crypto space. I started investing in Bitcoin and experimenting with my ideas on what I could do more to make a mark in the crypto space,” he said in a recent interview he did as part of WazirX’s Humans of Crypto campaign.
“As luck would have it the crypto market boomed in the year 2017, which changed everything for me. I had an idea to solve Ethereum’s increasing scalability issue that could help improve its overall efficiency level. The idea was pitched to by now business partners and together we found Matic in the year 2018,” Kanani says.
Over the past few years, the crypto space has expanded far beyond just cryptocurrencies, with concepts like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) aiming to revolutionise art by allowing artists to host their works on a verifiable token that guarantees originality.
On July 4, thirteen-year-old Laya Mathikshara put up a 2-minute short film called ‘Gratitude’, thanking COVID warriors on WazirX’s NFT platform. The film was sold for $423, or about Rs 32,000 within an hour of its launch, and also made it to the 9th All American High School Film Festival, considered the Oscar for teens.
Arijit Das, an ex-Creative Consultant at an MNC, is an avid NFT collector.
He says he expects the NFT market to go through the roof, and says new NFT collectors should look to invest in original art that has originality, something that represents the taste of the artist and represents the uniqueness of what he or she is trying to represent.
But while interest in cryptocurrencies and NFT assets has spiked, successful investors also have a word of caution of others looking at the space to achieve financial freedom.
“Cryptocurrencies are inherently volatile,” says Naimish Sanghvi, an engineer who quit his corporate job in 2016 to start vlogging.
Sanghvi then discovered dabbling in the cryptocurrency space but when interest in Bitcoin spiked in the 2017 rally, he started Coin Crunch India to create more awareness about the space.
“I started to learn about so many new projects and innovation that are happening as we speak, in the tech space,” Sanghvi says.
His advice to young investors: “If you are eager to learn, I would recommend you start by polishing your basic understanding of subjects like economics, statistics, global monetary reform policies before studying the basic classifications of cryptos. Investors need to carefully evaluate their rewards versus risks before investing in crypto.”
That last bit of advice is prudent, and after Bitcoin’s explosive rally over the past one year, Sanghvi’s phone keeps ringing, with long-lost friends wanting to know if they should invest in it.
Here’s what he has to say: “All crypto traders need to understand that cryptocurrencies have cycles and it’s a volatile market. For example, the valuation of cryptos can go up to 600-700 percent in a year and come down 90% in a few months depending on the demand and supply. It’s a high-risk investment, so people should only invest what they can afford to keep for a long term, thinking they might even lose everything in play.”