Cryptocurrency: it’s not just bitcoin anymore. In under a year, the concept of cryptocurrency will turn 10. As it’s aged, it has begun to create jobs, inspire entrepreneurs to create startups, and spawn hundreds of crypto-tokens with unique functions and development.
Millennials are, overwhelmingly, the generation fueling this trend. And while “bitcoin” and “cryptocurrency” are finally starting to become household words, we are still only at the beginning in terms of seeing what blockchain technology can accomplish.
Why Cryptocurrency Is Uniquely Suited To Millennials
As the first generation to grow up with digital technology at their fingertips, millennials have different ways of thinking by default. Technology is seamlessly woven into day-to-day life in a way that feels completely natural. Millennials do everything from getting a taxi and ordering food to finding employment and booking vacations differently from their parents. Cryptocurrency factors into this nicely.
Simon Yu, CEO of blockchain startup StormX, says, “Millennials are particularly open to embracing new technology in order to create opportunities for themselves–and blockchain, the tech behind crypto, is no different. As masters of the side hustle and challengers of the traditional 9-5 working lives of previous generations, millennials are welcoming blockchain with open arms.”
Chris Castiglione, who cofounded One Month and teaches a Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies course there, also notes that the young are in a better position to assume the risk of an industry known for volatility. “I think the crypto market is attractive to millennials because it’s a space with both a lot of growth and risk,” he says. “People who are 40+ years of age are likely settled down with a career and family, and less inclined to get into such a quick growth, volatile field. It’s been the same way with startup founders over the past 2 decades. Millennials also seem to be much more digitally literate than Gen X or baby boomers.”
However, Castiglione says, older generations who want to get involved shouldn’t see age as a limiting factor. “Many of the people starting cryptocurrencies and tokens do seem to be between the ages of around 22-40. [But] obviously anything is possible, and I could list many exceptions to the rule,” he says.
The Potential Of Cryptocurrency Moving Into The Future
The most well-known use case of cryptocurrency is just what the name implies: a digital currency that people can store and exchange without giving a thought to banks or borders.
Arran Stewart, cofounder of blockchain recruitment platform Job.com, explains, “Cryptocurrency can become a global currency platform and is able to replace traditional payment methods. In the future, you will be able to pay for lunch with your crypto wallet, without a need for a credit card, merchant system, or cash. Consider how many things you buy and pay for day-to-day that crypto could replace.”
However, while that is the core of cryptocurrency, the utility of blockchain technology can take many interesting forms. Like in Stewart’s company, it can be used to connect employers and candidates. Or, like with the Ethereum cryptocurrency platform, it can be programmed to execute “smart contracts”–think automatic rent payments, etc. Some crypto platforms and tokens have nothing to do with finance at all.
Yu’s company StormX, for instance, is built for side gigs. “The reality of the mainstream side hustle is often high freelancer fees, high operating fees, and many opportunities can be more trouble than they’re worth,” Yu explains. “The StormX platform allows users to earn in crypto by trying out new products, services, games and other apps, and then invest or exchange their earnings as they see fit. Eventually, the platform will support skilled work like coding, writing blog posts, editing a video, QA testing, translating content, or programming a website – and get paid instantly via the app.”
Yu believes that with blockchain, millennials can revolutionize the landscape of work. “The old paradigms of work–based on the industrial revolution–are far too limiting in terms of a person’s potential, a person’s life’s work, and the return on investment for their time and effort, as well as the ability to advance,” he says.
Platforms like StormX are positioned to provide more freedom and flexibility, he continues. “Leveraging blockchain technology can help millennials lock down opportunities to work from anywhere they want, when it suits them, and without the stress of waiting for an employer to pay. This will allow millennials to create opportunities for themselves, educate themselves, and advance their lives regardless of their socioeconomic status or location.”
How To Get Involved (Without Doing Anything Too High-Risk)
There’s no denying it: it’s intimidating to invest money into technologies that are still in their infancy. Crypto in particular, which lacks government regulation and has a history of wild value swings, gives people a valid reason to look at it with skepticism.
The solution, at least until the space becomes more stable, is simple: learn as much as you can, and then start by only investing “fun money” that you could lose without compromising your ability to pay for necessities.
“Never do anything blindly, including investing or participating in cryptocurrencies,” says Stewart. “Allow yourself a day to truly read and understand it all. After that, only go in at a financial level you could afford to lose completely and that would not affect your life. With that, you’re all set to join the cryptocurrency revolution.”
Yu stresses the importance of security and the need for more user-friendly platforms in the future. “As much of the digital technology is still nascent, it is really important to be diligent about your personal data and security,” he says. “[Right now] I know that for most people, it is quite daunting to figure out what crypto-platforms are the safest and what the best practices really are for this space. Gamification and user experience design [will be] integral in enabling this chapter of digital evolution to be truly accessible to anyone in this global ecosystem.”