I bought my wife this in straight cash.” The young man smiles as he holds up a photograph of a mansion, then adds: “You can’t beat the rich at their own game. The system is rigged and crypto is the only way to hack it, the only way to tell the boss to clear off.” As I stepped out of the Hex cryptocurrency conference in London in early December, my mind was spinning after witnessing hundreds of ecstatic crypto enthusiasts articulate how intangible computer code can change lives and is on the cusp of changing the world.
In my reverie, I stepped straight into the path of an approaching limousine. The car doors opened and out stepped more cryptocurrency nouveau riche, tuxedoed, and smoking cigars. They presented with the same common denominators as those within the conference. They were young, weighted more towards Generation Z than Millennials; they wanted to remain anonymous; and they had recently become the recipients of life-changing wealth.
The sudden shock of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 plunged the world into a deep economic recession and produced the worst increase in income inequality since the 2008 financial crisis. Central banks across the globe turned to quantitative easing to resuscitate trade activity that had been crippled by a succession of lockdowns. This only served to exacerbate the inflation of national currencies, and forced a swathe of retail and institutional investors to consider digital assets, such as bitcoin and ethereum, as a hedge against inflation for the first time.
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