(Original post at Decode Magazine)
Cashing in on cryptocurrencies, digitally encrypted money that isn’t governed by a centralised bank or government, has never been so easy.
Thousands of people are now part of what’s been called the 21st century gold rush, a comparison that by all rights should put people off, but for inexplicable reasons hasn’t. With Bitcoin leading the way, hundreds of new alternative coins have also sprung up to get in on the action.
If the thought of making your own cryptocurrency is intimidating, well, good. That’s highly sensible given the risks involved. But if you’re determined to start your own alt-coin, here’s a five-step plan towards achieving your wildest cryptocurrency dreams.
Step one: make it a meme
Professionalism is for corporate startups, not your grassroots cryptocurrency venture. When choosing a name for your cryptocurrency, pick a meme to prove your internet credentials and boost your online popularity.
Not convinced? Dogecoin, a novelty currency that started as a joke, is now worth $2 billion. Just try to choose a meme that the alt-right hasn’t started using for hate speeches. Pepecoin, named after the alt-right mascot Pepe, sadly exists.
Step two: don’t overcomplicate it
You don’t have to aim for global domination in order for your altcoin to succeed; following a 20% drop in the price of Bitcoinand Ethereum earlier this year, it was mid-level cryptocurrencies like Starcoin and NXT that recovered most quickly.
To start your own cryptocurrency, you don’t even have to use your own code; the framework used to create Bitcoin and Litecoin is available on GitHub. Unless you’re a serious coder, you’re better off putting your feet up and watching those alt-coins roll in.
Step three: make friends and alienate people
You’re going to need people to hype up your cryptocurrency if you want it to be successful.
Mining, the process whereby cryptocurrency transactions are authenticated and new coins are made, also requires legions of dedicated miners. Recruit people in the existing cryptocurrency world (or at least those with the slightest interest in alternatives to mainstream currencies) in places like r/cryptocurrency on Reddit.
To be a true cryptocurrency maverick, you also have to come to terms with the fact that 99% of people who are interested in cryptocurrencies end up boring the people around them to death. The first rule of cryptocurrency club is that you don’t talk about cryptocurrency club, at least not to your friends at the pub. You have been warned.
Step four: stop caring about the environment
Mining cryptocurrencies is energy intensive.
The computing power required to do it at the current scale needs a huge amount of electricity. Consequently, the average bitcoin transaction requires several thousand times more energy than it would in the conventional finance world, and global bitcoin mining is responsible for consuming more electricity than that of 159 countries.
To most level-headed people, the effect cryptocurrencies could have on the environment is a real problem. But if that doesn’t bother you, then you can wave goodbye to the polar ice caps with a clean conscience. Who cares about rising sea levels when you can buy a yacht with your sweet new cryptocurrency?
Step five: learn to love the bubble
In late 2017, cryptocurrencies were booming; by January, market-leaders were subject to brutal losses. If you’re of a nervous disposition, the volatility of cryptocurrency markets really isn’t for you, and to be a cryptocurrency creator you need to keep your cool under pressure.
Nouriel Roubini, an economist who predicted the 2008 financial crash, recently called cryptocurrencies “the mother of all bubbles.”
Yet among cryptocurrency communities, the war cry “HODL” (a misspelling of “HOLD”) remains both a self-deprecating joke and a mantra for investors. Not selling when the going gets tough is part of what, for better or worse, has kept cryptocurrencies going, so keep calm and HODL.