Understanding Cryptocurrency and the career opportunities

Khaulat Abdulhakeem
She is the Founder & CEO of DiverseK and host of the DiverseK podcast. DiverseK helps guide and connect diverse tech talents to companies globally.
Ire Aderinokun
She is the co-founder, COO and Vp of Engineering at Buycoins.

[00:00:00] Khaulat: Today is actually one very important topic in the tech space again and it's about cryptocurrency the booming word today.

[00:00:08] Khaulat: There are a lot of people who still don't know and understand cryptocurrency and some who understand it and use it or trade it but have questions. This is going to be a very interesting session. And today I'm here with the co-founder of BuyCoins Africa and the platform is a cryptocurrency trading platform, basically.

[00:00:28] Khaulat: So I'm just going to allow Ire introduce herself and tell us a bit about her career background.

[00:00:33] Ire: Okay. Hi, thanks for having me here. So yeah, my name is Ire. I'm a frontend developer and UI designer, and I'm one of the co-founders of BuyCoins, which is a cryptocurrency exchange targeted at Nigerians and Africans.

[00:00:47] Ire: A bit about my tech journey is, I'm a self-taught developer, learned basically as a hobby, like when I was a teenager and I dipped in and out of it for a bit. And then when I was like an adult after I finished [00:01:00] my undergrad and masters, I went back to it and I've been doing it ever since.

[00:01:05] Khaulat: Okay. Thank you. That's actually very interesting. So it's from there, you dived into founding BuyCoins. 

[00:01:10] Ire: Yeah, exactly. It started as a side project and it just grew and became more and more of a real thing and like a real company. So yeah, here we are. 

[00:01:19] Khaulat: yeah great journey so far. Yeah. Okay. Let's start with the basics.

[00:01:23] Khaulat: Can you explain to us what cryptocurrency is in a very basic manner and how it is different from other currencies? Okay. 

[00:01:30] Ire: Cryptocurrency is essentially just like a digital currency, so it doesn't have a paper version. It's basically just in code and the technology behind cryptocurrency is what's called blockchain.

[00:01:44] Ire: And what it essentially is, is a ledger or record of all the transactions that have ever happened with this currency and the key thing about it is it's what's called decentralized, which means that there's no one central owner or [00:02:00] controller of the currency. It's something that is open for everyone to see and also to interact with.

[00:02:06] Ire: So nobody controls it because I guess everybody controls it, that's why it's called decentralized. But yeah, I would just say, think of it as a digital asset, the same way I don't know anything that you can buy online as a digital assets, but in the cases of cryptocurrency people use them in some cases as a currency in itself or in other cases, just like a stock or something like that. 

[00:02:27] Khaulat: Okay. Can anyone actually make this currency.

[00:02:30] Ire: Yes. So there's several hundreds, maybe even thousands of different cryptocurrencies that exist. The biggest one is obviously Bitcoin and there's like a few others behind it, but anybody, including myself, like I've done this before. You can actually just create your own cryptocurrency. And it's basically like making a website, for example, if you have the know-how to develop it. You can make your own website. It doesn't mean anybody's going to use it and it doesn't mean that it's like worth anything, but you, it can technically [00:03:00] exist.

[00:03:00] Ire: There's an Euro coin somewhere out there, which I've even forgotten about, but nobody is using it, but it exists. 

[00:03:06] Khaulat: okay. So anybody can create one. 

[00:03:08] Ire: Exactly.

[00:03:09] Khaulat: So it's just about the value. As the value grows, it's worth grows 

[00:03:13] Ire: Exactly. 

[00:03:14] Khaulat: Okay. Why are they important in the first place? Cryptocurrencies in general?

[00:03:18] Ire: Yeah. So they were created mostly because of this blockchain technology and the decentralized nature of it. So the fact that no one government or bad actor can control like your movement of your money essentially. So they're important for that reason because it's putting the power back in the people instead of your money and your livelihood being.

[00:03:42] Ire: Like at the whim of wherever currency or wherever, like government controls your currency. So for example, we see that in Nigeria, the central bank or the governments can one day decide, okay, you have this money in your account. Yeah. We're going to just use it, or we're going to say, you can only transfer[00:04:00] this amount every day or every month or something like that.

[00:04:02] Ire: But that can't happen with cryptocurrency because it's not something that can be controlled in that way. So it's about giving yourself the freedom or like putting the freedom and the ownership back into the person that actually owns the currency. 

[00:04:15] Khaulat: Okay. It actually safe now to actually have all your money in cryptocurrency or as cryptocurrency.

[00:04:22] Ire: Yeah. If you say safe yes, because it's just buying anything. But I think the real question, has more to do with use. Cause at the end of the day, it's about what you want to use your wealth or your money to do. For example, if we lived in a world where everybody used Bitcoin, like you can pay for anything with Bitcoin, then there's no damage, or there's no hurt in having all your money in Bitcoin because, whenever you need to buy a house or a car, you can exchange your Bitcoin directly. But obviously we don't live in that world yet. So if you need to buy something, you still need to find a way to convert your [00:05:00] Bitcoin or whatever cryptocurrency back into dollars or Naira or whatever.

[00:05:05] Ire: So that's the thing you have to be aware of, because I won't say, and I don't either. just go and put all of my money into it. 

[00:05:11] Khaulat: Yeah. All of your money.

[00:05:12] Ire: Because the fact that you might not be able to get it out when you need it, as urgently as possible, that's also something you have to take into consideration.

[00:05:20] Ire: And that's like something that we are still trying to figure out, in the crypto world, because I think crypto purists, like to just say, okay, Bitcoin. It exists by itself and people should just transact in Bitcoin. But obviously we don't really live in that world. I can't go to the supermarket and say, accept my Bitcoin.

[00:05:37] Ire: So, we're still in a world where you have to be able to use or have both cryptocurrency and like FIS currency, so pounds or dollars or naira, whatever. 

[00:05:47] Khaulat: Yeah. Does the bit Bitcoin value, the currency value? Does it lose by just holding it as bit Bitcoin or when you trade it only. . 

[00:05:54] Ire: Yeah. So the value it's based on what you buy or sell it as, right? So for [00:06:00] example, if today you buy Bitcoin and it's I think 45 or $48,000 for one Bitcoin, but obviously you would buy a smaller fraction, like 0.0001 or something, and you just hold onto that and that's still going to be that amount of Bitcoin.

[00:06:14] Ire: But if at any point you now need to go back to dollars or whatever, then you're then subject to whatever price it is at. So that's how people can make a lot of money or also lose a lot of money if you're going back and forth between Bitcoin and Naira or dollars because the price relative to each other changes a lot.

[00:06:33] Ire: So Bitcoin is one of the most volatile cryptocurrencies. 

[00:06:37] Khaulat: Yeah.

[00:06:37] Ire: So if you're looking for something to trade and, just play the markets, that's a good one, but there are other currencies cryptocurrencies that are a lot more stable. If you want to just put your money somewhere else and not be too concerned with, okay.

[00:06:52] Ire: The price is going up and down and all of that.

[00:06:54] Khaulat: Yeah. What are some of those stable occurrences currently?

[00:06:58] Ire: Yeah. They're [00:07:00] called stable coins actually cause they're coins that are stable. I would say the two most popular ones now are U S D C and U S D T. So they're both pegged to the us dollar.

[00:07:12] Ire: So one of them will always be equals to one us dollar. So that's a nice way to be able to have your money or save money in dollars without having to buy dollars itself. So yeah, we offer USDC on buycoins and we see a lot of our users use it as a way to just save their money and without having to go through the stress of having to actually change your Naira to dollars.

[00:07:36] Khaulat: Yeah. 

[00:07:36] Ire: And just having a better exchange rates and all of that. 

[00:07:38] Khaulat: And can one actually withdraw that USDC as us dollar. 

[00:07:43] Ire: yes. So if you wanted to get dollars, then you would have to sell it for dollars, like on an exchange that will accept that trade. So Coinbase is a popular one that allows you to do that.

[00:07:56] Ire: On buycoins will let you exchange it for Naira, but not [00:08:00] for dollars. Cause we don't handle dollars right now. 

[00:08:03] Khaulat: Okay. Is the only way to make money through cryptocurrency by investing and what are the other ways? 

[00:08:10] Ire: I think investing and trading are a bit similar, but maybe one of them seems a bit more long term.

[00:08:17] Ire: So the traders or the people who are more I guess like the professional traders, they are people that are we'll be looking at the price maybe like day to day or hour to hour or something and looking at, okay, the price is this. So then I can buy it at this and then sell it at that. And that's going to be a lot more involved or you can do a more long term investment.

[00:08:36] Ire: So you can just say, okay, I want to lock away my savings in even just like USDC, for example. So if you earn in Naira and you put in your savings into USDC then that's going to be a better way for you to hedge against the inflation of the Naira. So by just doing in that way, or you can also invest in something that the price might change a bit more so [00:09:00] Bitcoin in Ethereum or light corn and just leaving some of your like money in there for a bit of a longer period of time. So maybe like a year or something. And what is even though the price is going up and down a lot, generally the trend line is like going up. So that's why if you leave it in there for a long period of time, you're a lot more likely to come out, like with a positive rather than negative.

[00:09:27] Khaulat: Okay. Another thing I'm curious about is how does one identify like trustworthy cryptocurrencies to invest in? 

[00:09:34] Ire: Okay. Yeah, because basically anybody can just create a cryptocurrency. Like I said, that means that there's like a lot out there and ones that might not be what you want. So generally speaking I would say if you're like a beginner or you don't know all that much about it, I would say you use an exchange.

[00:09:53] Ire: So if you're in Nigeria, you can use buycoins. Or if you're outside, like the US, you can use Coinbase. Things like [00:10:00] that. And especially for the beginner friendly products they will generally restrict the coins that you even have access to and only allow you to buy or sell coins that they have vetted to be like relatively trustworthy.

[00:10:15] Ire: So even on buycoins, we only offer four coins, just the most popular ones that we know are okay these are like the main ones. So there's no issue here. And then maybe for the more professional traders that are more interested in, like playing around and finding out different things, then, we can then offer a lot more coins for them.

[00:10:33] Ire: But yeah. So I would just say stick to the top three bit Bitcoin Ethereum and Knight coin, and then only when you're able to do your own research and say, okay, this looks like it might be interesting, then you can try and play around a bit more. 

[00:10:48] Khaulat: Okay. Can one cross street between these different platforms?

[00:10:52] Ire: Yes. So all these platforms generally have a wallet. So a wallets is basically like a bank account that can [00:11:00] hold the different currencies. And once you have a wallets It can be transferred. If you have a Bitcoin wallet and you have Bitcoin in your wallet, you can transfer that to any other Bitcoin wallet.

[00:11:11] Ire: So it's not something that is incompatible with each other. A Bitcoin wallets in my Buycoins accounts can receive or send money to, or from a Bitcoin wallets in like white coin based accounts or anywhere. They're all alike. A bitcoin wallet is a bitcoin wallet wherever it. 

[00:11:25] Khaulat: Okay. Wonderful.

[00:11:27] Khaulat: How does one get started investing? We've talked about, beginner, somebody who just on start from scratch, how design get started. 

[00:11:33] Ire: Yeah. So what I would say is that starting with Bitcoin is a no brainer, cause it's the most popular one and you can't really go wrong by testing out with that.

[00:11:44] Ire: So I would say just set aside a small amount of money, like an amount that you don't need access to for a long time, or you won't go bankrupt if anything happened to it.

[00:11:54] Khaulat: Yeah. 

[00:11:54] Ire: And I would say then just invest a little bit. And spread it out a bit. So let's say you want to invest [00:12:00] 20,000 Naira, for example, you can say, okay.

[00:12:02] Ire: Over the next one or two months, I will just invest 5,000 on one day, another 5,000 on another day. And that way you can spread it over a difference. Cause the price is always changing. Just spreading it over a few different prices so that you are not like only buying at the most expensive price or anything like that.

[00:12:21] Khaulat: Okay. If you're watching this live and you have questions, you can always put them in the comments and we'll attend to them. Okay. Let's look at next important thing. Why are investment in cryptocurrency unstable? I think we really mentioned this before. 

[00:12:35] Ire: Yeah. So it's not stable because for most cryptocurrencies, the ones that aren't stable coins or anything like that, their price is just controlled by however much people are willing to buy or sell it at.

[00:12:48] Ire: And in and that reason it's like a stock, and if something happens.

[00:12:52] Khaulat: Yeah. 

[00:12:53] Ire: Something happens in the news. That's for example, when Tesla bought a bunch of Bitcoin that will obviously drive the price [00:13:00] up because it's signaling that this is more valuable. So that's when it changes.

[00:13:04] Ire: It's basically just like a stock. And like I mentioned, because there are other cryptocurrencies that operate in different ways. So like stable coins are going to be a lot more stable. They just serve their different purposes. So Bitcoin, the way I approach it is that this is just like a stock. I don't really look at it as a currency in that way.

[00:13:22] Ire: It's just like something that I'm investing in. But for other ones, if I need to spend or something, I can use that.

[00:13:29] Khaulat: Okay. Yeah. In terms of precaution now, what precautions do you take when you're trading or investing with Bitcoin? 

[00:13:35] Ire: Yeah. So for me, the first thing I said is think about the amount you want to put in. Because it's still 

[00:13:43] Khaulat: something you don't mind losing,

[00:13:45] Ire: exactly. It's still speculative. So don't put your entire life savings into Bitcoin or something like that. So that's the first thing I always say.

[00:13:52] Ire: Second thing is that for me, and I also do it, the amounts proportionally based on which Bitcoin. So I have my largest [00:14:00] investment in Bitcoin because that's the biggest, it's the most popular and it's probably the one that's most likely to just continue to gain value and all of that. And then I have lesser amounts in other coins and if I see a coin, like maybe I'm on Coinbase or wherever, and I see a coin that looks interesting. I'll maybe do a bit of research on it or just ask like a friend about it who might know a bit more and just say, okay, what do you think about this?

[00:14:26] Ire: And then I'll put in like a small amount and see how it goes. And then i'll decide based on that, whether I want to add more or just leave it as it is.

[00:14:35] Khaulat: Okay. Thank you. Let's wrap this up with some advice you'd give to a new investor. 

[00:14:41] Ire: Okay. I think I covered this with the putting an amount that you are okay to lose. And I'll just say, don't be too put off or too scared by the terminology and things, because I think cryptocurrency can seem a bit confusing and stuff to people. And there are aspects of it that are still confusing to me still, even [00:15:00] if I'm like working in the industry, it's a very complicated fields, I would say.

[00:15:05] Ire: So I'll say don't be put off by it's like you just learn as you go and yeah, read up wherever you can. And I would say exactly stick with the products like Coinbase or Buycoins that are built for beginners so that you don't get lost and mistakenly buy a bunch of something or mistakenly send or do something like if you're using one of those pro apps.

[00:15:28] Ire: So don't delve into them too soon. If you don't feel like you're ready because one thing about the blockchain is that if you initiate the transaction, there's no going back there's no, okay, I'll call customer support. And they'll reverse that transaction. There's none of that. 

[00:15:42] Ire: The entire point of the blockchain is there's no person that can go and log into some backend and reverse something for you.

[00:15:48] Khaulat: Yeah. 

[00:15:49] Ire: So that's why I would say stick to the beginner things and then you can start to build up as you do, and just be aware of these things.

[00:15:57] Ire: A lot of stuff is like final. [00:16:00] So be cautious when you're taking certain actions. 

[00:16:02] Ire: Okay. Thank you so much. This was a very wonderful and educating session.