The “happy bitcoin investors”: who are the individual holders of crypto-currencies?

They invested and they sold. The “happy bitcoin” had a fine nose: while the best-known crypto-currency reached unprecedented heights on February 16, crossing the $ 50,000 mark for the first time before falling sharply, some took advantage of the opportunity to resell their assets and pocket their earnings.

“I knew immediately this was going to change the world,” says Leven from his home on the California coast. The 40-year-old discovered bitcoin in 2012, when cryptocurrency is still little known to the general public. Quickly convinced of his potential, he invested several thousand dollars without hesitation. And still don’t regret it today: “I sold half of my assets in 2018,” he says. I have since quit my job and am living comfortably. “Thanks to his capital gain, the former computer scientist bought two houses and made several investments, which allowed him to retire before his 40th birthday.

But this “success story” is not for everyone. “There is no easy money,” says Xavier *. The only way to get rich with bitcoin is to take a lot of risk or invest a lot of money up front. “

The 25-year-old is nonetheless “happy” with his investment, which allowed him to reimburse his professional training. “I made money without working,” he sums up. If the assertion may sound immoral, the apprentice trader assumes. “In December 2019, I got a promotion and started saving money. But the A booklet offered a really low rate of pay. “He then decides to buy bitcoins on a dedicated site, an” exchange “, French.

Young and male users, often with modest incomes

According to an Ifop study commissioned by the Cointribune site, the majority of bitcoin users are thus young men with rather modest incomes, whose primary motivation is speculation.

This is the profile of Boris, 31. Employed in the restaurant business in Luxembourg, he embarked on cryptocurrency, disappointed by the investment possibilities offered by his bank and pushed by the emergency caused by the coronavirus and the closure of restaurants. “I invested about 10% of all of my savings, so as not to take too much risk,” he recalls. Because the approach is dangerous: the variations of bitcoin, which evolves without being backed by a bank or a State, can bring fortune like ruin in a few minutes.

It was the volatility of bitcoin, associated with its extremely speculative nature, that prompted the two men to withdraw from the market, after having attracted them to it. “When I saw that it was going too high and too fast last December, I thought to myself that I had to stop,” Boris said. I spent several hours a day there, it stressed me too much “.

Self-taught learning

The two autodidacts thus explain having set clear limits so as not to be overwhelmed by this occupation of a new kind. “My goal was to double my investment,” explains Boris. When that was the case, I sold my bitcoin, although it continued to rise. Sometimes I regret it a bit, but I tell myself that it was not the casino: I did some research before investing, and you have to know when to stop. “

Both did a long job of informing themselves before setting off, in order both to know where to go and to be reassured. “I made inquiries,” explains Xavier. I didn’t go headlong, you have to know a minimum of what you’re doing. “

But other users come to bitcoin almost by accident. Hervé, 58, explains that he bought bitcoin for 50 euros in 2018, in order to “see how it worked”. Attracted at the outset by the possibility of subsidizing authors or artists on the internet without having to go through online jackpots, he “has fun speculating” for a while, then ends up selling everything with a gain of a hundred euros. “There’s one side that bothers me, like the stock market,” he says. This money, I did not earn it and I did not deserve it. “

Links to the Darknet

Bitcoin is indeed often criticized for its speculative nature, but also for its supposed links with organized crime on the internet. Before its closure by the FBI, SilkRoad, a site selling illicit goods on the Darknet, used bitcoin as its sole currency. A trade that continues to this day.

François * thus acquired his first bitcoin in 2016 with a single objective: to buy drugs on the Darknet. “The friend who usually supplied me didn’t have a plan,” says the 47-year-old computer scientist, marijuana smoker and recreational drug user. He pointed me to a website “. He then converts 400 euros into bitcoin to conduct his transactions with complete discretion, and gradually forgets his investment.

This is how he falls from above, in early February 2021, when consulting his “wallet”, the digital wallet where he keeps his bitcoins. “I have the equivalent of 2,000 euros, whereas I have not invested that much,” he exclaims. For a few days, I made movies for myself, I thought I was going to be a millionaire. But he has since come back to reality: “I didn’t buy bitcoin to speculate,” he says. What I like to say to myself is that for two years I bought drugs for free. “