The human interest stories related to cryptocurrencies and their meteoric rise have faded over time. This is a story of “stupidity”, love and money, a story that has been hidden for many months, fearing the government’s wrath, especially after India’s stance against cryptocurrencies.
During early February, AMBCrypto had written an article trying to investigate the possible reasons for the cryptocurrency crash and although that article covered many quotes, one story of Mr. Subash Gaikwad [Name changed at the request of the interviewee] from Borivali, Mumbai has been hidden until now because of his fear of losing all his money because of government scrutiny.
Mr. Subash, works as a Loco Pilot for the Indian Railways in Mumbai. The 37-year-old father of two stays in Borivali, Mumbai with his wife, two children, elder brother & his wife and Subash’s mother who has been bedridden for the past 3 years. The entire household earns about $1500 a month with which they pay off two loans, feed the house, pay for their children’s tuition and save enough money to watch two Bollywood movies in a month.
In February 2017, Subash, to get out of this financial difficulties started exploring investment and money-making options. He heard about Bitcoin from his 24-year-old relative who was pursuing his engineering degree. He told him about how Bitcoin was on the precipice of taking a huge jump and how he should get in on this “Bitcoin Fad” right now.
Subash did not believe him, but just to make his young relative happy, he asked him if there was a “cheaper cryptocurrency than Bitcoin”. Not understanding the technology or how it functions, he invested in XRP through BTCXIndia, a website which now defunct, provided the Indian retail market an XRP/INR pair for investments.
His initial skeptical investment of ~$150 at a price of $0.033/XRP fetched him almost thrice his initial investment by May 7th of 2017. His belief in cryptocurrencies grew stronger and went on to invest Rs. 500,000 (~$7000) in various cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Bitcoin and XRP. Subash in a shaky voice tells us,
[paraphrased from Hindi]
“This was the most difficult decision I made in my life. There are some moments in your life where your gut tells you to do certain things. I just had a feeling about Bitcoin and Ripple in my bones. I knew that it was going to be big. I know this was stupid, you can quote this as, ‘Subash being stupid’ in your article, but I knew. I sold my wife’s wedding jewelry, secretly sold my sister-in-law’s jewelry and took out all the money from our life savings to invest in this. If I could sell something else, I would have”
Subash’s “stupid” and rather irrational decision fetched him a more than 18x return by the time he cashed out in December 2017 and January’ 18. The rapid rise in XRP prices in the early part of January this year combined with Bitcoin’s monumental growth in December last year earned him Rs. 1,07,80,000 (~$150,000). He says, “I maybe should have cashed out everything. Although 80% of my portfolio is out, there is still that 20% investment which is still currently there. I am not at a loss, I’m just greedy now, so will hold on”
When asked about his motivation to make this “stupid” decision to sell everything his wife and family had, he says,
“We were pushed to the limit, I had two loans to repay, my wife couldn’t work anymore because of a critical medical condition that she was suffering from for a long time. My mother was bed-ridden and the only way to cover the expenses was to stop my kids from studying and push them on the road to do menial jobs which can bring us extra income. The beginning of 2017 was hard and there was no other way to go. This decision was made so I could save my children’s future. There are some actions that define your future, I consider this as that defining action. Now my children will never go hungry and my wife won’t suffer because of the lack of treatement.”
Being part of the Indian government machinery, he says, the biggest hurdle for cryptocurrencies is currently governments and policymakers. He believes there that needs to be a regulation in the market but not just completely ban what you don’t understand. He says revealing his name would throw light on his identity, making life difficult for him.
After Arun Jaitley made market impacting statements in February, Subash was able to speak to a highly influential person from the RBI and says,
“I do not understand this technology and believe me when I say this, the people who are currently banning banks from entertaining crypto exchanges do not understand even the basics of crypto. If I rate myself 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, these guys should be given a -2 or a -3. For them, anything that they don’t understand is a Ponzi scheme”
A story almost similar to the “Slumdog Millionaire” movie, Subash says his understanding of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies is absolutely zero. He doesn’t understand what they mean or what they do for the real world. He treats them like trading assets and now invests his time in understanding trading dynamics, indicators and exchange volumes.
He runs a small Facebook crypto community group dedicated to people who do not understand this technology. He also has multiple WhatsApp groups aimed to train and teach cryptocurrency trading. His favorite indicator is the Bollinger Band and aims to convert his $150K to a Million dollars by the end of 2019.