While most people consider prices in dollars and cents, Alvin Ang thinks of Ethereum (ETH), a cryptocurrency. When the 27-year-old recently looked for a Cartier Juste un Clou bracelet to pair with the Love bracelet his mother gave him as a teenager, he discovered that it cost the equivalent of around two ETH. The self-taught entrepreneur decided to afford the trinket.
“The bracelet, which I’ve wanted for a few years, is the only physical thing I bought. I also used the income from NFTs to grow my new business and pay part of my rent,” says Ang, who has started investing in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) last year, which increased in value more than tenfold.
His interest in NFTs is the technology behind them and how they can be used for business, for example, through smart contracts. His first and largest investment to date was in Veefriends and he also holds significant stakes in Moonbirds.
According to Ang, “It effectively uses smart contracts in a way that provides more real-world utility compared to other projects at the time, which I found very interesting.” He was also attracted by the possibility of angel investing through NFT.
He adds that he also wanted to buy “everything she wants” for his mother. But he notes with a laugh that his mother, who loves to paint, became interested in NFTs because of its success and wanted a digital gift rather than a physical item. “She appreciates the artistic element of NFTs, so I gave her some of mine that are worth something,” says Ang. Her mother has since been very involved in certain projects, such as World of Women.
He is just one of many young crypto investors, shunning conventional financial holdings for this brave new world of investments – and cashing in their earnings in the real world.
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Crypto is their first foray into investing
For the next generation, being early adopters of crypto has sometimes been their first foray into the world of investing. For example, Serena Zhang, who works in account management at a FAANG firm, says that crypto was the first thing she bought about six years ago when she started investing her money.
“I was interested in the blockchain technology behind crypto and the idea of real, working decentralized systems,” she says. At the end of 2016, she first bought Bitcoin. After seeing it “double in no time”, she decided to buy more as it grew.
The 27-year-old also got into farming on Terra, the practice of staking or lending crypto assets to generate returns.
In addition to paying for her master’s degree in international business with her earnings, she also sold assets to jump-start her equity portfolio. “It’s ironic that if I hadn’t diversified into stocks, I would have been much better off,” she notes wryly.
Nonetheless, she has earmarked a portion of the income from farming, which she considers passive income, for disposable expenses such as vacations and shopping.
“My agricultural rewards allowed me to do more, like taking trips to Europe and Bali. I even bought some designer stuff in Paris that I probably wouldn’t have bought otherwise. My first pair of Christian Louboutin red-bottomed shoes were paid for with crypto-farming profits,” she says.
(Related: Evie Zhang wants to demystify crypto with OMO)
More retailers accepting cryptocurrency payments
Retailers are increasingly accepting cryptocurrency payments to cater to this growing market of crypto consumers. Five of Gucci’s stores in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas began accepting digital currencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dogecoin, in May.
Several merchants in Singapore also accept cryptocurrency payments. These include EuroSports Global, which sells Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo cars, luxury watch market Luxehouze, and trainer and collectibles market Novelship.
Novelship, which began accepting Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tether payments as well as BinancePay in mid-March, has already recorded some 500 crypto transactions, even without promoting the option.
“We conducted an internal survey some time ago which revealed that an overwhelming number of surveyed clients were very interested in alternative assets, such as cryptocurrency,” said Richard Xia, co-founder and CEO of Novelship. “After further study, we discovered many advantages of crypto payments, such as lower transaction fees, no problems with fraudulent credit card transactions, and faster receipt of funds. So, we decided to introduce crypto payments.
Consumers transacting with crypto seem particularly interested in fashionable sneakers spotted on celebrities – perhaps for their collectible value. Among the shoes they purchased are the Sacai x Nike VaporWaffle ‘Black White’ which was worn by singer Jay Chou and the Nike Dunk Low ‘Black White’ spotted on RM of K-pop group BTS.
(Related: Luxury Brands’ Latest Obsession? NFT)
Being careful with crypto gains
Yet, not everyone spends their crypto earnings at the same time. Web 3.0 enthusiast Audrey Lim, 35, who co-founded the Hola Mona NFT art project in collaboration with three classically trained fine art artists, is taking her time, preferring to grow her NFT art collection for now . She also asked for a crypto credit card — think of it as a prepaid debit card — to make future purchases easier.
Other people choose to accumulate their crypto holdings as a long-term investment. Shaun Djie, entrepreneur and watch enthusiast, bought a stainless steel Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400 in 2015, which he financed half in Bitcoin, the first and only time he did so. “It was a milestone that I wanted to commemorate, luckily with the money I made from crypto in the beginning,” he says.
In the years that followed, he continued to diversify his wealth into different forms and businesses to secure his financial future, he says.
It should be noted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore has issued warnings that crypto trading is very risky and not suitable for the general public. Market analysts have also indicated that the cryptocurrency market is volatile.
That’s why SGExplained podcast host and Rovik content creator Jeremiah Robert, 28, is getting into crypto but still investing in commodities like gold and other financial instruments like ETFs. .
“Crypto is just another asset class in a whole fleet of asset classes, and there is still a lot of volatility in the crypto space. I am ready to invest more money in crypto, but I would like to see more successful projects first,” he says.
However, some aspects of digital currency appeal to it. He says he plans to transact with friends in digital currency for convenience when traveling for expenses such as dining out.
“When traveling, it can be difficult to pay friends abroad in their local currency as traditional fintech apps charge higher fees for the transaction. One idea we discussed is the ability to pay my friends back in foreign currency digital like Solana, where the store of value is reasonable.
Main photo credit: Photo by Art Rachen on Unsplash
(Related: For Singapore to become the center of cryptocurrency in Asia, strong regulations must be established)