The moms who trade bitcoin
In January, Tiffany Britt made an unusual callout on a private parenting Facebook group. Would any of the other moms in the group be interested in pooling funds together to invest in bitcoin, she wondered? At the time, the Los Angeles stay-at-home mother was eight months pregnant and caring for a toddler. She'd dabbled in cryptocurrency herself and had made a small but admirable profit of a little over $1,000 — not bad for a newbie. But she wanted to go bigger, so she put out the call on Facebook. The response was surprisingly positive: Roughly 30 moms sent Britt money —$20 here, $100 there — to garner varying shares of the pot's ownership. When all was said and done, she'd raised $1,400 to invest in bitcoin and bitcoin cash.
Cryptocurrency — or crypto — is unregulated digital money that's sent and tracked via a secure system called blockchain. There are dozens of different types of crypto. The most well known of the bunch is called bitcoin, and it's seen a huge boost in popularity and name recognition with the general public because it experienced meteoric rise (followed by devastating fall) in value earlier this year. One group jumping on the crypto bandwagon is stay-at-home mothers, some of whom see it as an opportunity to make some extra cash from the comfort of one's own living room, and get in on the ground floor of a burgeoning sector, often touted as the future of investing.
While most people have at least heard of bitcoin, the world of crypto investing remains relatively exclusive, and mostly male-dominated. One survey found that 95 percent of bitcoin connoisseurs were men. As of 2016, the popular bitcoin user site Coin.Dance had a community made up of only 1.76 percent females. But it's no surprise women are pulling up a chair to the cryptocurrency table. Women make up to 80 percent of household spending and financial decisions, and their incomes are estimated at $18 trillion annually.
Investing in crytpocurrency isn't particularly hard. Britt admittedly had "zero training or knowledge about finance or investing." But she and a few of her female friends had been teaching themselves about the stock market bit by bit for several years before expanding outward into cryptocurrency. Like all new skills, learning about crypto investing takes time — say, the same amount of time and effort it might take to learn to play an instrument or solidify an old family recipe. Maybe a few minutes to an hour a day or a few hours per week. All you need is access to a computer or smartphone and the internet, a credit card or bank account with some money in it, a driver's license, and the ability to read.
There are also a handful of online communities that have popped up, catering specifically to moms investing in cryptocurrency. Cryptomoms.com, for example, touts itself as a "cryptocurrency learning center" and boasts a "friendly forum." A "start here" link gives users some general info about cryptocurrency and walks them through the basic steps of setting up a coin wallet and buying bitcoin.
Arry Yu is the COO and president of Storm, a "gamified micro-task platform" built using blockchain technology that allows users to do various small tasks on their phones in exchange for rewards in cryptocurrency. She's also a mother to a toddler, and she's self-taught in the ways of crypto. "There are a lot of free resources out there," Yu says. "I took out several audiobooks so whenever I was driving or my kid was taking a nap, I listened. Every morning, I spend some time doing searches and seeing the latest in the news. When I was learning, I even went on Facebook and asked if anyone was a 'blockchain genius' and if I could take them out for coffee."
As with all investing, there's always a risk of losing money with cryptocurrency. Britt's original group purchase of $1,400? It's been steadily losing value and is now worth about $550. But she says the idea wasn't necessarily to "make money" but to become literate in an emerging field. "I think the goal was that if [all the moms who invested] had a little bit of skin in the game, we could individually do research and post what we learned in [the group]," Britt explained.
Yu says she has made hundreds on her investments, but she's not focused on getting rich quick. "I'm generally doing okay but that's not at all what excites me," she says. "This is just the beginning of something that's better. That's the exciting part."