Ask Gen Z

Talk Crypto To Me

A breakdown of everything you need to know about the digital currency.

by Kaitlyn Wylde
Crypto Besties explain cryptocurrency 101: everything you need to know about nfts, altcoins, the blo...
Courtesy Crypto Besties, Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

Almost out of nowhere, it suddenly seems like cryptocurrency is everywhere: Your little sister wants an NFT for her birthday. Your college roommate keeps posting about how altcoin-rich she is. A TikTok couple just got arrested for stealing $4.5 billion worth of bitcoin. It’s time to acquaint yourself with the cryptic world of crypto.

Enter Crypto Besties, a Gen Z, women-led collective working to demystify cryptocurrency and build the metaverse’s first makeup line. Founders Rima Patel 26, a health care consultant and medical student, and Jaiya Gill, 23, a former finance sales gal-turned-startup community manager, founded Crypto Besties in September after meeting on Clubhouse and realizing they could help bring their friends up to speed on the currency.

Patel first became crypto curious in college. “A friend's Facebook status said, ‘Go buy Bitcoin,’” she says. “I had no idea what this was or know why they're telling people to buy it. So I went down a loophole reading — what is Bitcoin? How can we invest in this?”

Gill’s interest arose from feeling left out of the male-dominated world of finance. “We’re encouraging newbies in the space to make friends, ask questions, and share openly,” she tells Bustle. Crypto Besties also shares free educational content through events on Twitter Spaces, Discord, and YouTube.

Here, Patel and Gill give millennials a crash course in building your digital piggy bank.

First off, what is cryptocurrency? I can’t see it. It’s not a payment option at the grocery store. Will it be someday?

Patel: Think of it as a digital currency whose transactions are verified and maintained by a decentralized system using something called cryptography instead of a central authority, like a bank. As crypto circulates through the ecosystem, you can see a digital record of that coin being passed on to someone else.

Crypto is already starting to become a common payment option in a lot of places. It's being adopted at a higher rate in countries other than the United States — in places where currency is not stable, crypto allows people to make purchases.

Is crypto the same thing as an NFT?

Patel: NFTs are non-fungible tokens, which means that they can't be replaced by something new. For example, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that’s fungible — you trade one Bitcoin for another and they’re worth the same. NFTs are unique and cannot be replaced. With trading NFTs, you can end up with a completely different outcome in terms of value.

What should crypto mean to me long-term?

Patel: Crypto is a new method of being able to invest in your future. Traditional finance has left behind a lot of women and underrepresented groups. Crypto allows you to enter this new field and have the same footing as others, versus in traditional finance where you might be left behind because there’s so much to catch up on. The blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrencies has the potential to change industries because people have more direct control over their money, which helps build innovative economic activities.

Can you buy crypto if you have no money?

Gill: This isn’t financial advice, and it’s important to do your research before investing in anything, but technically, yes. There are lots of ways to get into crypto without actually putting your own money in. One way to start your crypto wallet [a digital portfolio where your cryptocurrency purchases are stored] is to join open communities that are hiring for technical contributions, like helping with engineering, marketing, social media, or community management. These organizations might pay you in cryptocurrency. If you do put in your own money, you should definitely put in only as much as you're comfortable losing, because crypto fluctuates.​​

What are some risks of building a crypto wallet, aside from losing your investment?

Gill: The main risks are scam sites that leave you vulnerable to hacks. One way people get hacked is via phishing and clicking on unsecured links. For example, you might click on a website with very slight incorrect spelling — think, spelling like Meta.Mask — and fill in your wallet information without noticing. Always use a trusted website that’s linked to something like a verified Twitter or Instagram page.

As women in crypto, what's one misconception you wish you'd stop hearing?

Gill: The biggest myth for women in crypto is that it's only for people who are already actively investing in the stock market, or in finance or tech. It seems intimidating from the outside, but crypto is actually easy to get into because it's ever-changing and it's very new.

Patel: Also, that you need money to be involved in the crypto ecosystem. There are other ways you can invest your time. Take crypto jobs — there's actually a lot of opportunities for young women who are considering tech, marketing, and community management positions. You can clock just a few hours a week to fit it into your lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be a 24/7 immersion.

Should I start buying my friends NFTs for their birthdays?

Patel: Do I think NFTs are the future? Yes. It's really important that everyone does their research to see the community behind the NFTs — who the people involved in the project are, what are the missions and the goals of the project. It's unlike any other gift. If it's something where you appreciate the art or believe in the team, then you should purchase an NFT for your friends.

How does Gen Z approach crypto differently from millennials?

Patel: Millennials might be in a place where they are trying to settle down or are working to have their family. Maybe they don't have as much time or ability to take as large of a risk [with crypto]. Gen Z has been more outspoken and able to take those risks considering their age profile.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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