Wheeling and dealing turns nasty in crypto-land - Jim Duffy

My old dad loved a bargain. He would make a regular trip to the Barras market in the east end of Glasgow so he could pick up some cheap cigarettes or butcher meat. Then he would rave to us all about his adventures in his wheelings and dealings in securing some prime stewing steak, pork sausages and the obligatory “square slice.”

But, when offered the chance to accompany him I would always decline. I didn’t smoke and would rather pay an extra quid or two to get my butcher meat from a reputable butcher in the town. That same “snobbery” or decision-making has accompanied me to old age and right now is turning me off my beloved cryptocurrency ecosystem.

I guess when many of you decide to make an investment you will use a professional broker, your bank or indeed do your own homework and pick a fund or stock that is well led and well managed. In general, the whole investment industry in the UK is somewhat genteel and marketed to us with decorum, proper communication and from dedicated and well trained staff. One investment company doesn’t slag off another. One financial advisor doesn’t speak badly of another. In short, there is a mutual respect backed up by professional standards. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for the crypto-sphere. And this week it got a lot worse.

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Being given the opportunity to write about crypto in this newspaper is a privilege. As many of you know I have gone right down the rabbit hole over the last 12 months, devouring crypto and macroeconomics for breakfast each day. Not only do I read up, but I invest. I like many of the projects in crypto and the vision they have for changing the world over the next ten years. It not just all about investments “going to the moon”, but a feeling that economic change can happen in places like Africa, as a result of the technology built built and deployed. But, with all new industries comes immaturity.

Over the last week, the febrile and at times acerbic rivalry between crypto projects or “coins” has been simply awful. The catalyst for this has been the rapid ascent of a project called Cardano that has risen meteorically in market capitalisation since December of last year. From trading at around 15p then, Cardano or its currency - ADA - has now risen to 95p and currently sits at number three spot in market cap at $41billion behind Ethereum and Bitcoin. All looking good for Cardano, but the fallout between rival Bitcoin maximalists and the ethereal tribe has been as bitter as a Celtic - Rangers Cup Final with three red cards and two players stretched off.

On Twitter, where a large majority of cryptocurrency interactions take place, the level of maturity in debate and comment has been woeful. Bad language, accusations, conspiracy theories, personal insults and spats have raged all week. Anyone new to the space looking in would be aghast at the level of toxicity that is being reached. And that is sad in what has the potential to be a trillion dollar market in the future. This week, the crypto world on social media feels like the wild, wild west. It reminds me of why I didn’t like the cut ‘n’ thrust of the Barras and prefer to shop at the supermarket meat counter.

Like all new entities, cryptocurrency will mature, evolve and grow up. The followers, “investors” and commentators will too. The sooner the better, before they precipitate a bile-fuelled spiral into the abyss, where new folks who was to get involved are put off and don’t venture back.

Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special



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