It was 2014 and the crypto markets had gone through one of their usual boom and busts. Bitcoin had roared through US$1,000 for the first time in 2013. That was from less than US$100 in the middle of the year.
But 2014 was a long slippery slope back to reality. Or so we thought.
By the year’s end, bitcoin’s fiat-converted value had trickled back to around US$300.
But 2014 in the crypto world wasn’t about bitcoin.
It was about the boom and bust of ‘alt-coins’. That’s how we referred to them back then. These alt-coins had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Then again that’s exactly what bitcoin had done in 2009.
The idea that you could now code the existence of a cryptocurrency token was exciting. This ‘programmatic money’ was something that anyone could feasibly do. And with the right motivations, the right approach, and importantly the right programming skills, you could make your own crypto.
The idea was that would then spread, people would flock to it, use it, believe in it, and it would rise in value. This idea of network effect as an underlying value proposition to alt-coins back then was real.
And that’s also part of the value proposition of many other cryptocurrencies today.
The OGs of alt-coins
Back in 2014 though, the motivations behind crypto was to shield yourself away. A lot of the origins of alt-coins back then were to protect your privacy and security with crypto. There was talk of crypto that would allow uncrackable encrypted messaging.
There were crypto that promised untraceable, shielded transfers of wealth. Some flaunted with the law. Some flaunted with the regulators. But back then the law and the regulators didn’t really give two hoots about any of this.
That’s because most of them didn’t even know about anything other than bitcoin. And if they did, they certainly weren’t looking at anything else. Bitcoin had grabbed the attention of the mainstream mainly because you could buy drugs on Silk Road with it.
And that’s all anyone really cared about in the mainstream.
But as I say, the alt-coin world was at full throttle. And the origins of some of the ‘biggest crypto’ were seeded and existed back then. Like Dash, Ripple (XRP), Litecoin, and Monero. They were all ‘OGs’ from 2014 and earlier.
Around this time, however, a few popped up with this idea of ‘minting’ tokens.
This wasn’t about starting your own crypto project. This was about getting hold of some tokens, bunging them in a crypto wallet, and just earning more for being a part of the network.
This was what is now commonly referred to as ‘proof-of-stake’.
The premise is exactly as I just described.
And to be honest when I first came across it, it seemed too good to be true…again.
I’ve written about my first interactions with bitcoin often. It forms parts of my book that I wrote in 2016 and have recently updated, Crypto Revolution: Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and the Future of Money.
My first interaction with bitcoin made it seem too good to be true. The proverbial ‘money tree’ that wasn’t supposed to exist according to the bank of mum and dad.
But it was true. And this first interaction with ‘minting’ via proof-of-stake crypto seemed like it too.
However rather than dismiss it, I tried it out. Only small, insignificant amounts at first. Or at least in 2014 it was small insignificant numbers at first.
But it worked.
A 1,000,000% miss
I downloaded the wallet client from the crypto project website. I downloaded the complete blockchain in order to connect to the network. Then I got some of the crypto tokens from an exchange and sent them into the wallet.
Then I let the computer run and do its thing. I would often leave the computer on during the night while I slept just to see what would happen. Disconnecting from the network and turning off the computer would mean I wouldn’t be earning any of the extra tokens.
I didn’t count the cost of energy in leaving the computer on incessantly. But it was probably worth more that the value of those tokens. Still every time I checked back in my wallet, there were more tokens.
Pretty cool stuff. Only problem was they were worthless. By the time I decided to disconnect from the network and trade my tokens back to bitcoin, the grand value was something like US$17 and each token was worth like US$0.007.
Little did I know that at its peak at the end of 2017, those tokens would be worth over US$35 each. Even without minting for three years, that would have been a 499,900% return. With minting, well the potential return would have possibly run over 1,000,000%.
But that’s another story.
The point is that ‘minting’ — what we now call ‘staking’ — is still alive and well in crypto. In fact, some of the most impressive developments are coming in proof-of-stake crypto.
And even more crazy is that you can still utilise these staking rewards by just being a part of the network. That’s all you have to do. Just hold some crypto in the right way, perform the right tricks specific to that crypto, and away you go.
It’s easy. And in my view a no-brainer.
If you even half believe that crypto has a big future, then you need to be looking at how you can get a slice of this action. But you need to know how to do it in the right way.
Frankly I’m amazed the mainstream hasn’t cottoned onto this opportunity. But I’m also a little glad. Because they will. And for those who heed my vision of what’s to come and get in early, I think there are some exciting times to come.
You’ve been told.
Editor, Money Weekend