December 2015. That’s when I got my first bitcoin.
It’s now December 2017. It’s been two years since then. A LOT has happened, mostly positive.
This is a review my two years so far in bitcoin investment.
The exploration stage
When I bought my first bitcoins, it was USD400+ each. I don’t have to tell you how much it’s worth now, you can check coinmarketcap.com. Plus whatever number I throw here, it’ll be outdated soon anyway. So here’s the live ticker.
Before this, all my other investments were traditional and safe. ASB. PRS. Gold. I didn’t feel particularly attached to any of them, it’s just accounts that I throw some money at when I have them.
Before buying a small amount of bitcoin, I spent a week or two just intensely doing own online research and reading. I’ve never stopped the research stage – I’m a full-fledge bitcoin believer, however cult-ish that may sound.
The obsessive price-checking stage
This stage lasted a good year or so.
Bitcoin is volatile AF. It wasn’t an easy decision to put money at something that used to crash from USD1200 to USD100+, and I was constantly paranoid about bitcoin crashing in value overnight. I remember refreshing xe.com a few times a day (and night) just to reassure myself. I also remember checking the price first thing in the morning. That wasn’t a healthy habit – even now I catch myself doing it, but I do try to minimise the price checking obsession.
Holding bitcoin is the easy part. Being constantly tempted to sell is the hard part. There were moments when particularly bad news* broke out and I’d panic and sell my bitcoins. On the other hand there were also moments when I try to catch a price increase only to miss the boat and the value of the bitcoin went down the next day.
Now I just follow this common advice from crypto community members (in telegram groups, online forums, reddit): hold onto it no matter the news. I’m in it for the long haul, so what happens now don’t matter. Bitcoin will either be worth nothing or everything, and I am prepared to lose it all.
Depending on the situation, this was either stupid or great advice. Thankfully for me, it turned out well (as of now, *touches wood*).
*Bad news – ranges from another declaration that bitcoin is dead by a prominent figure or media news outlet, propaganda/regulatory attacks by governments, hacks of major exchanges, community spats, etc
The career as crypto writer
There were not a lot of guides about bitcoin in early 2016. At least not tailored to Malaysians. At this time, I made a living via freelance writing (I still do) and just started Ringgit Oh Ringgit. I wrote some articles about bitcoin in this website and started getting writing offers to write about it in other websites. This was also how I originally got into Wirex-the-bitcoin-debit-card-provider: as a content writer. Just like that, I was earning in bitcoins, so I stopped buying them.
Writing about cryptocurrencies and getting paid for it is cool because (1) the research part is something I do for fun anyway and (2) the btc I earned a year ago is worth significantly more now.
For the sake of learning, I opened accounts and tried out various crypto service providers, checked out different courses across different platforms, attended events, read research and news articles, and generally keep myself updated with the news and development.
Aside from the fun factor, I also did those research to avoid losing or being scammed out of my bitcoins. Things I’ve seen happen to other people:
- In a local forum (Lowyat), saw someone blindly trusted an online bitcoin seller and publicly asked him/her to contact him back because the bitcoin still hasn’t arrived after doing the bank transfer to them.
- In reddit, someone shared their experience paying for a meal with bitcoin. The restaurant did not get the payment, and they soon found out why – their printed bitcoin QR code was tampered (someone pasted their own QR code on top of it).
- People enthusiastically inviting people to be part of Ponzi schemes using the bitcoin name. Some of those schemes have since died, wiping away millions of people’s hard-earned money.
- Fake bitcoin events and conferences. They sold tickets then… disappeared without a trace. Wut.
- Fake bitcoin apps and copycats of legit websites specially designed to steal people’s bitcoins.
- People accidentally wiping out their hard disk containing bitcoin or throwing it away. Ouch.
- And more, I haven’t even scratched the surface. It’s a scary world. If you lose your bitcoins, you lose it.
The work with Wirex
What started out as content creation role, developed into full-blown community management work. I became known as Wirex rep in Malaysia and spoke on their behalf in local events and engagements. We’ve since parted ways, but I still wish them all the best despite what they did to me.
I’m thankful for all the skills I’ve learned under their guidance. And especially thankful for the insight of working as part of a startup team. When I joined, there were barely 10 of us. Now they have more than 70. I like to think I contributed to that growth.
The journey in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies itself
Oh gosh, where do I start with this. Keeping updated with bitcoin news is like a full-time job. Keeping updated with various development is no joke. Some of them:
Bitcoin scaling debate and the resulting forks. Ie the internal spats in the bitcoin community, where they talk about how to make bitcoin easier to use but no one can agree on the how. Bitcoin used to be just bitcoin, but now there’s Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and now there are talks of even Super Bitcoin, Bitcoin Platinum, Bitcoin Uranium, Bitcoin Cash Plus and Bitcoin Silver. Whaaat. Different groups have different ideologies – purists who are loyal to Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision stuck to the original, bitcoin.
Bitcoin acting more as store of value rather than ‘currency’. The value tends to rise, so people don’t really spend it. As such, people hoard it (myself included tbh). Also, bitcoin’s transaction fees can be really high so they’re no longer suitable for micropayments. The good thing is some other cryptocurrencies are good for that.
The rise of altcoins. I diversified into some other cryptocurrencies as a result of all those research I did. Most of them are still around and ranks high on coinmarketcap.com. Thank God.
The emergence of ICOs. A new way to raise funds. Some countries have banned it because people were buying into the hype, and not the actual strength of the startup/companies behind it. There are some really cool startups using this method though, so it’s not all bad, but people do need to know that startups have a low success rate in the first place so it’s not an automatic money-making machine. Many people treat it like it is.
The local bitcoin and crypto community in Malaysia. Last time there were just a few places where people hung out online. Now there are quite a few. There are even homegrown coins and tokens and ICOs. Not all are good, unfortunately. Some are mere community coins, hyped up for its potential rise in value.
The expanding world of blockchain and crypto service providers. There are so many of them! Some allow you to create coins on top of them, some allow you to rent other people’s disk spaces, some allow full or partial ownership to existing asset classes (gold, silver, … exotic cars even). Writing this gives me sudden inspiration to write about different types of blockchain service providers, especially the B2C ones (targeting mainstream users, not businesses).
Knowing different community leaders in person or by reputation. Reputation is everything in this space. To this day, Andreas M. Antonopoulos remains my favourite speaker, my personal benchmark and one of my crypto brain crush. The way he explains terms and jargons, fuhh, good stuff. So easy to understand. The other speakers who like to pepper their speech with fancy words are much lower down my list.
Establishing myself as a professional in this space. All rules to being professional in other sectors apply here. Don’t talk shit and always be friendly, but watch your back. Aside from that I also successfully completed the Certified Bitcoin Professional Course from the Cryptocurrency Certification Consortium, good for my CV. I’m also part of ACCESS Blockchain Association (Malaysia) – join us if you’re into blockchain (not necessarily just the cryptocurrency part!)
Learning from mistakes that I and other people made. Once, I got greedy and put money in an auto-trading platform. Followed the trades of top traders there (sorted by % of profit they get on daily/weekly/monthly basis). Lost all the money. Lesson learned – no more copy trading for me. I also almost got scammed on Localbitcoin – someone opened two trades – one for a small amount and another for higher amount. They deposited money for the smaller amount, then tried to get me to release bitcoin for the higher amount. Aside from that, I’ve heard others’ mistakes: accidentally put the wrong info in the wrong box and bought a coin at way more than its worth (decimal points also matter), lost it due to phishing attack, lost it due to hacked exchanges, and more. Constant vigilance is needed when you have bitcoin investment, definitely.
Two years in the crypto world is like twenty years in other industries. It’s so fast-paced! I think I have condensed all I can into this post, but I’m sure I’ll come back to re-write it and add on some more information. Note that this personal review is my own journey – others went on to make their own startups or do their own mining or maybe even just hold bitcoin passively without being active in the crypto world.
How long have you been in crypto? How’s your journey like?
- FAQ: Everything You Should Know about Bitcoin in Malaysia, as a Newbie
- FAQ: How to Invest in Cryptocurrencies in Malaysia (Aside from Bitcoin)