Talk to me about cryptocurrencies

Suddenly, cryptocurrencies seem to be everywhere: Your sister wants an NFT for her birthday. Your college roommate keeps posting about how rich she is in altcoins. A TikTok couple was just arrested for stealing $4.5 billion worth of Bitcoin. It’s time to familiarize yourself with the mysterious world of cryptocurrency.

Enter Crypto Besties, a collective led by Gen Z women dedicated to demystifying cryptocurrency and creating the virtual world’s first cosmetics line. Founders Rima Patel (26), a healthcare consultant and medical student, and Jaiya Gill (23), a former financial sales girl turned startup community manager, launched Crypto Besties in September After meeting in the clubhouse and realizing they could help their friends learn about currency faster.

Patel first became curious about cryptocurrencies while in college. "One friend's Facebook status said, 'Go buy Bitcoin,'" she said. "I had no idea what it was or why they were telling people to buy it. So I read a loophole - what is Bitcoin? How do we invest in it?"

Gil's interest stemmed from feeling excluded from the male-dominated world of finance. "We encourage people new to the field 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 a digital piggy bank.

First, what is a cryptocurrency? I can't see it. This is not how you pay at the grocery store. Will it happen one day?

Patel: Think of it as a digital currency where transactions are verified and maintained by a decentralized system using cryptography rather than a central authority like a bank. As a cryptocurrency circulates in the ecosystem, you can see a digital record of that currency being passed on to others.

Cryptocurrencies have started to become a common payment option in many places. Its adoption is higher outside the United States—where currencies are unstable, cryptocurrencies allow people to make purchases.

Are cryptocurrencies and NFTs the same thing?

Patel: NFTs are non-fungible tokens, which means they cannot be replaced by something new. For example, Bitcoin is a fungible cryptocurrency—you exchange one Bitcoin for another and they are worth the same. NFTs are unique and irreplaceable. By trading NFTs, you may end up with completely different results in terms of value.

What does cryptocurrency mean for me in the long term?

Patel: Cryptocurrency is a new way to invest in the future. Traditional finance has left many women and underrepresented groups behind. Cryptocurrency allows you to enter this new space and have the same footing as everyone else, whereas in traditional finance you can be left behind because there is so much to catch up on. The blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies has the potential to transform industries as people gain more direct control over their funds, which helps build innovative economic activities.

Can you buy cryptocurrencies if you have no money?

Jill: This is not financial advice and it’s important to do your research before investing in anything, but technically, yes. There are many ways to get into cryptocurrency without actually investing your own money. One way to start a cryptocurrency wallet (a digital portfolio that stores your purchased cryptocurrencies) is to join an open community that is hiring for technical contributions, such as help with engineering, marketing, social media, or community management. These organizations may pay you in cryptocurrency. If you do invest your own funds, you should definitely only invest an amount you can afford to lose, as cryptocurrencies fluctuate.​​

Aside from losing your investment, what are the risks of building a crypto wallet?

Gill: The main risk is scam sites that leave you vulnerable to hackers. One way people get hacked is through phishing and clicking on unsafe links. For example, you might click on a website with a slight spelling mistake (think, spelling as Meta.Mask) and then fill in your wallet information without noticing. Always use links to trusted sites like verified Twitter or Instagram pages.

As a woman in crypto, what is one misconception you wish you no longer heard?

Jill: The biggest myth for women in cryptocurrency is that it is only for those who are already actively investing in the stock market, finance, or technology. It may seem intimidating from the outside, but cryptocurrency is actually easy to get into because it's constantly changing and very new.

Patel: Also, you need capital to participate in the crypto ecosystem. There are other ways you can invest your time. Take cryptocurrency jobs, for example—there are actually a lot of opportunities for young women who are considering positions in technology, marketing, and community management. You can just dedicate a few hours a week to your lifestyle, it doesn't have to be a 24/7 immersion.

Should I start buying NFTs for my friend’s birthday?

Patel: Do I think NFT is the future? Yes. It is important for everyone to do research to understand the community behind the NFT - who is involved in the project, what are the mission and goals of the project. It's unlike any other gift. If this is something you appreciate the art or believe in the team, then you should buy the NFT for your friends.

How does Gen Z approach cryptocurrency differently than Millennials?

PATEL: Millennials may be in a place where they're trying to settle down or they're trying to raise a family. Maybe they don’t have that much time or ability to take such a big risk (with cryptocurrencies). Given their age profile, Gen Z is more outspoken and able to take these risks.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. Nothing contained in this article or on the website constitutes a recommendation, endorsement, encouragement of investment, or should be construed as professional and/or financial advice. No information on the website or in the articles constitutes a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the relevant law. Readers should not construe any such information or other materials as legal, tax, investment, financial or other advice.