A tweet pinned on Kashif Raza’s Twitter handle reads “Crypto is not a sprint, it's a marathon race.”
Raza, founder of BitInning and formerly CryptoKanoon certainly knows all about how difficult, yet rewarding voyages in the cryptocurrency space can be, having been one of the earliest investors in this space, all the way back to 2016!
From having lost a lot of money to a Ponzi cryptocurrency scheme to now helming BitInning, a platform he established to impart fundamental education centered around cryptocurrency to empower millions of Indians, and previously CryptoKanoon, a platform for crypto regulatory news & analysis, Raza’s tryst with the nascent, rapidly evolving Indian cryptocurrency space is a story to know, live and understand.
“As a student, I was fascinated by economics as a subject, thanks to a good teacher, and was constantly driven to add value to my life beyond the typical 9-5 corporate job. With an extensive background in sales and marketing working with PepsiCo and eventually a stint in media with Sony Entertainment and later Disney UTV, I had a huge learning curve during the course of my career”, he recounts.
“This story is very close to my heart”, says Raza. Funnily enough, when he first came across the idea of cryptocurrency in 2016, on being introduced by a friend, he first thought of it as a Ponzi scheme. But, “I eventually gave in and invested Rs 5,000 in bitcoin, upon my friend’s insistence”, he recalls.
But when he saw those Rs 5,000 rising to Rs 7,500 in a matter of days, he was hooked. After researching and reading up on cryptocurrency, he decided to take the plunge in 2017 and took a personal loan for buying bitcoin, with a massive interest rate of 21 percent per annum!
“The legitimate-seeming Ponzi scheme was being endorsed by many Bollywood celebrities at the time. So, I invested the money, only to lose it all”. Per his feed, Bitcoin went away from me, and depression and EMIs entered my life.
The story does not end here. Per his thread, in order to recover those losses, he borrowed more money from friends and family and again started investing in ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and other projects, but eventually, lost that money as well.
“I felt stupid. With my expertise and experience, I thought I was a smart guy who could never fall prey to such schemes. But it happened, and I was left with a mountain of loan repayments.”
It took him six-eight months to figure out what he eventually wanted to do, along with immense support and help from his family, who relentlessly encouraged him to close this disastrous chapter and move on in his life.
“I met an advocate with regards to my case for recovering money. During our discussions, while I realized that nothing much could be done in my case, there were immense gaps and cracks when it comes to awareness and education in this space, especially four-five years back. So, utilizing my insights and experiences in this space, I collaborated with my advocate to launch CryptoKanoon”
A high point of CryptoKanoon was when they became the only organization to stream information during the Supreme court proceedings, where a 2018 RBI circular imposing a blanket ban on cryptocurrency transactions was overturned by the apex judiciary, reigniting fresh hopes and assurances for the Indian crypto space.
According to him, at the end of the day, it is not only about money but also about skills and expertise. In a Twitter thread, he confessed to never having done in-depth research on the fundamentals of Bitcoin and ETH. In spite of his losses, his research was limited to only Telegram signal groups and listening to YouTube channels, never delving into the whitepaper or gaining trading or technical analysis knowledge.
But, his firm belief in the inherent goodness of the success of an endeavor that intends to do well led him to start BitInnings, a YouTube channel and a telegram group that has around 1.22k followers at present, that aims to help people start a new journey in the crypto space, helping them learn the very basics and fundamentals of this ecosystem.
Working towards Crypto-Literacy
“Even when it comes to media disseminating information regarding cryptocurrency, there is a serious lack of government insights and bureaucratic and administrative contributions to this space. Even senior IPS officers are woefully unaware of this space, let alone the common man”.
Raza advises everyone to register complaints against lost or stolen cryptocurrency in the same way as one goes to complain about a missing mobile phone, in a bid to normalize cryptocurrency holdings.
“My ultimate intention is to get into the online education space subsequently, developing very simple, straightforward, and fundamental courses in Hindi in cryptocurrency. And I have complete faith in the potential and success of this space”, he explains
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, he feels, is a great leveler and equalizer. Raza talks about how the generic inflation rate at 6 percent agonizingly ignores the real inflationary pressures, which go up to 20 percent, given the current, expensive lifestyle and ways of the masses today, and how bitcoin can bridge this gap effectively, by generating significant value for investors, in addition to their regular income stream.
We might not reap the benefits of crypto, but our future generations will.
Do you know who the cypherpunks were? They were visionaries, who back in the 1980s, had already foreseen that the Internet would soon become an important battleground for human freedom and hence, advocated for the widespread use of strong cryptography and privacy-enhancing technology during the early days of the internet era. Notably, this was considered by the USA as an anti-national activity in these early days. Raza, in particular, is very inspired by their work.“I often tell my daughters that my generation, like the cypherpunks, might not completely enjoy the benefits of this revolution, but someday, someone might come to you and perhaps appreciate your father for the work he did in the early days of the Indian cryptocurrency rising”, he concludes.