A lot has changed in the investment world since last Thanksgiving. With cryptocurrencies and NFTs spreading into the music, art and real estate industries, just about everyone has felt the rumblings of decentralized finance by now. And if you’ve had any part in this year’s blockchain boom, your crypto-curious cousin or NFT-skeptical uncle may come to the dinner table with questions on what all of this means for their own investment portfolios.
You may or may not think of yourself as a crypto evangelist, but decentralized finance is growing fast, and a few quick, contextualized pointers can help your relatives build their personal wealth and better understand the future of finance. (And hey, at least it’s not politics.)
Here’s a brief guide to some of the questions that might come up between bites this Thanksgiving, and how to give your family members a quick and easy leg up into the brave, new world of crypto investing.
Is Crypto Real? How Does It Work?
Crypto is real in the same sense that time and money are real. The U.S. dollar is validated by banks and time is validated by our collective adherence to the clock; in the same way, crypto is virtual cash that’s validated by the people who acquire, hold and accept it as payment. The more people who use it, the more valuable it becomes. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest as soon as possible—especially as big companies including Starbucks, Tesla and PayPal announce plans to let customers pay with crypto tokens—and investors predict that some countries may adopt crypto as legal tender.
What Is a Blockchain?
A blockchain is a public record of transactions and other information. Each block is like a line item in a record book—but instead of being stored in a central location, blockchains live on servers, which can be accessed through home computers around the world. Each transaction is secured with unique identifying information, including a time stamp, which can’t be changed. That means there’s no way to cheat the system. Even better, it means you can be your own bank and manage your holdings as you see fit, without interference from a central authority.
What’s the Point of an NFT?
NFTs represent unique digital assets, the ownership history of which is verified through blockchain technology. Like any other product, NFTs gain value as demand increases. The blockchain provides a way for assets to be sold and traded through secondary markets, and it allows previous owners to earn royalties when an NFT changes hands. As NFTs gain traction across industries, they’re becoming more and more reliable as high-yield investment assets.
NFTs can also be used as digital proof of ownership for hard assets, including art pieces, collectibles and real estate.
How Do I Decide Which Coins to Buy?
With companies across industries introducing their own token offerings, there’s an ever-growing variety of cryptocurrencies to choose from. While time-tested mainstays like Bitcoin and Ethereum tend to be safe bets, there’s also a whole new world of crypto communities where token holders can leverage their holdings toward common goals. It’s always a good idea to choose where to invest according to your investment size and risk tolerance levels, but you can also narrow down your options by exploring crypto communities that are organized around topics and ideas that matter to you.
How Can I Invest Without Risking Everything?
All investments come with risk—but crypto isn’t as precarious as it might seem at first blush. The idea of throwing some of your hard-earned money at a nearly $60,000 asset like Bitcoin may seem intimidating, but value investors say crypto only becomes safer and safer as the price goes up. That’s because demand for crypto is growing faster than supply, and although its volatility is unlikely to go away any time soon, more buy-in equals greater validity and utility. When we all ride the wave together, we go higher.
Crypto remains unfamiliar territory for a lot of folks. But in the past year, it’s made exponential gains in cultural relevance, which will only continue to grow. So, make sure the ones you love are in on the action, and by the time you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner next year, they’ll be thanking you.
Sarah Figueroa is the CEO and cofounder of Geojam. Her background in social media and music sponsorships led her to develop Geojam, a social music platform that’s trusted by some of the world’s top artists, including Mariah Carey, 24kGoldnn and Machine Gun Kelly. Sarah’s passion for blockchain and web 3.0 was the impetus to create Geojam’s native token $JAM, which is paving the future not only for artists, but also the entire creator economy. Sarah established her career in New York and is currently based in Los Angeles. In her spare time, you can catch her at a music festival or disco-house show.