College students in computer science programs are obsessed with cryptocurrency.
The excitement was contagious when the price of the ethereum doubled a few weeks ago. I got a flurry of messages from my college friends, and together we watched the price climb. It was good timing for me. I had just put all of my spending money into ethereum.
When my friend Arturo first pitched me cryptocurrency a few months ago, the phrase that won me over was, “Money is freedom.” I was studying in Spain at the time, and what was an overdue catch up between friends snowballed into a transatlantic business call. In hopes of striking it rich, my friend put all his savings into ethereum and urged me to follow suit.
I thought of the $5,000 student loan looming after I graduate. With this in mind, I found my friend’s argument particularly compelling, and some pocket money would be nice, I thought. So I went off to do some research.
My parents added $900 to my bank account, which was spending money meant to last me the whole semester abroad. Within a week, I had invested $700 of it into ethereum.
I knew a bit about bitcoin, but had never even heard of ethereum. I started clicking around and soon found myself deep in an internet spiral. I was obsessed, trying to figure out the ins-and-outs of smart contracts, the various players in the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, and what the skeptics had to say about it. I had my doubts after reading the arguments on possible security issues and community disunity after the DAO hack.
Like any investment, there are risks. But ethereum has demonstrated consistent growth over the last year, growing more than 2,000 percent since February. With success stories of overnight millionaires bulletined across Reddit, everyone is looking for their piece of the $20 billion pie.
I wanted in. Soon after I got to Spain to study, my parents added $900 to my bank account, which was spending money meant to last me the whole semester abroad. Like a good daughter, I took that money and streamlined it directly into Coinbase. Within a week, I had invested $700 of it into ethereum at $87/ether.
Sam put $10,000 of his life savings into ethereum
Ethereum has seen a series of surges over the past few months, but nothing compared to two weeks ago, when the price soared from $100 to $200 in the span of a few days. Ethereum is currently hovering around $350 and I’ve more than tripled my original investment. Friends that were once on the fence are now investing in droves.
My computer science nerd friends started funneling their savings into bitcoin and ethereum. Cryptocurrency trading advice and the rollercoaster of emotions associated with its daily rises and falls has become part of our daily conversations.
Not everyone is the same type of investor, of course. My friend Stirling got $50 in bitcoin as a birthday gift, which he says he’s going to use to buy musical instruments if prices continue to increase. Sam, meanwhile, put $10,000 of his life savings into ethereum. He’s using his profits to be able to afford to work as an unpaid intern this summer: “The profits will cover my housing, food, and transportation for the next 4 months,” he said.
We also have different investment strategies. Some of us are in for the long haul, others day trade, buying and selling multiple times a day.
“Being a broke college student, I didn’t have the liquidity for long-term investing,” my friend Hunter said. “Daytrading offers us larger returns at a much higher risk.” He’s going to use the money he’s earned to travel.
Young Americans live in a society that fosters endless ambition, but student debt, rising rent costs, and wages that haven’t significantly grown in decades all make for a relatively bleak financial outlook. Who knows what my ethereum investment will look like in five years. It might balloon into the seed money I need for a brazen startup venture. Or it could be just another one of my stupid ideas. I’m not sure, but I guess we’ll see.