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- Cryptocurrency isn’t for everyone — but here’s how some are using digital tokens to make money
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Cryptocurrency isn’t for everyone — but here’s how some are using digital tokens to make money
Mario Awad sprawled on a couch in his plush apartment, his phone sounding off constantly in his free hand while the manicurist hunched over the other, buffing, dipping, and polishing. The calls and messages came from clients looking to buy a cryptocurrency stablecoin called Tether USDT , of which Awad is one of the main suppliers in Lebanon. When the manicurist was done, Awad opened a drawer and handed her a fresh , Lebanese pound note.
Then he leaned back on his couch while a bodyguard let her out and turned back to his ever-busy phone. Over the last two years, Lebanon has been gripped by an economic death spiral, the culmination of years of government corruption and mismanagement. The many people who were already poor are now struggling to afford food. Lebanon is a country that knows crises and, to some extent, prides itself on weathering them. The financial crisis has led to a spike in cryptocurrency usage in Lebanon, both as a means of recovering savings through speculative trading and as a way to circumvent a broken banking system.
Due to domestic bank restrictions and international sanctions, Lebanese bank accounts and credit cards have been rendered effectively useless for making purchases outside of the country, including buying cryptocurrency on international exchanges. Over-the-counter OTC suppliers like him are part of a complex and legally murky ecosystem through which cryptocurrency is purchased abroad, sent to Lebanon, and then distributed through a network of dealers to be sold to clients in exchange for hard cash.
Before , Awad said cryptocurrency investing was uncommon in Lebanon, held back by a general lack of awareness as well as a dysfunctional electric grid and slow internet speeds. But the country has a high degree of tech literacy and talented developers. So when the crisis hit, there was already a small community of crypto-enthusiasts ready to spring into action.
Media attention and a well-established Lebanese penchant for hustle meant the market quickly expanded. Awad also personally claims at least some of the credit for catalyzing the Lebanese crypto-trading community here. Accurate data on the overall volume of cryptocurrency trading in Lebanon is all but impossible to obtain, due to the informality of the market. Demand fluctuates with the rise and fall of the global cryptocurrency market, but OTC suppliers estimated trading volumes across Lebanon of up to 10 million dollars per week at high points.
But the only Lebanese legislation that might specifically cover the use of cryptocurrency is worded vaguely and could be interpreted in conflicting ways. Riad Salameh, the award-winning governor of the central bank since , presided over a network of institutions that brought billions of dollars into the Lebanese economy by offering extremely competitive interest rates and a high level of banking secrecy, which made it an attractive destination for offshore assets, alongside places like Luxembourg and Switzerland.
But those dollars entered an economy that produced very little. Meanwhile, the debt held by both the central bank and the state was serviced by further borrowing. The government resigned , foreign aid was withheld, remittances dried up, and the whole shaky fiscal edifice that was the Lebanese economy came apart at the seams.
The process works like this: A client who wants to buy cryptocurrency will usually open a wallet on an exchange the most popular in Lebanon being Binance and then meet with an OTC dealer to hand over cash dollars. The dealer will send the same amount of Tether — minus a commission ranging from 0. The client can then pursue whatever crypto-investment strategy they see fit with the USDT in their digital wallets. Sellers, in turn, use the hard cash they are taking in to buy from larger Tether suppliers in a chain that stretches outside of Lebanon.
When demand in Lebanon is low, the OTC ecosystem is fueled by cryptocurrency sent from abroad in smaller amounts by diaspora or personal connections. However, during times of high demand — usually driven by a bullish global crypto-market — larger amounts of Tether have to be sourced. But the most recent major source has been Nigeria. The country has a well-established Lebanese diaspora, and, for years, large amounts of money have flowed from Nigeria to Lebanon, the proceeds of both legitimate and illicit business ventures.
Once they have sold it on, they will disburse cash to the originally intended recipient of the remittance. Sellers say that the the top of this chain is dominated by a few individuals, both because of the high degree of cash liquidity required and, according to one mid-lever supplier who requested anonymity to speak freely, the risk involved.
Nonetheless, for everyday OTC customers in Lebanon, the process of buying into the market is relatively straightforward, even mundane, and clients come from all walks of life.
Even before, he knew that things would be tough after graduation. Then, on August 4, , more than 2. For Noureddine, who plans to soon resettle in the U. He stood in the street among his bleeding and stunned neighbors and looked up at the noxious red mushroom cloud towering over the city. For OTC traders, the market has become a lucrative way to advance in an otherwise stagnant economy. Less than a year ago, year-old Rani Baasiri was cooking in restaurants in the upscale Beirut neighborhood of Badaro and doing some speculative crypto trading on the side.
The office is minimally decorated and thoroughly air conditioned, a bubble of good order amid the chaotic streets that surround it. Dirany is a believer in the technology underlying cryptocurrency, if not some of the coins themselves.
It does nothing: high fees, slow transactions. A payment method, not a store of value. Dirany sees the cryptocurrency market in Lebanon as having two distinct functions. Some people are using it to preserve or recover the value of their capital, while others are simply moving money from one place to another. While cryptocurrency is providing a financial lifeline for some in Lebanon, it is by no means a story of universal success. Marcel Younes, a pharmacist by profession and a cheerfully dedicated free marketeer, runs Bitcoin du Liban , a site dedicated to educating people who want to invest in cryptocurrency.
People always join in a bull market; they join the hype train, and most of them are losing money at the moment. After taking a hit on his investments in September , Noureddine used risky leveraged coins to make back his losses. Beyond investment tools, Younes said he thinks cryptocurrencies could serve a wider purpose in Lebanon. In August of this year, for example, power cuts became so severe that hundreds of thousands of people were left without the internet , the most basic requirement for dealing with crypto.
The OTC market, however useful, is clearly not a solution for an economy in shambles. Even Younes, the believer, had no rosy illusions about the future. Learn More About us Work with us Team news.
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Best bitcoin and crypto wallets for February 2022
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'How I lost £25,000 when my cryptocurrency was stolen'
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Your Swiss Cryptocurrency Investment Partner
Crypto trading platforms are digital marketplaces, kind of like Walmart and Target, where you exchange money to get anything you need. But on Crypto trading platforms , you trade one digital money, a. It is a lot like foreign exchange, where people buy for or against the market. Many people use this trading concept to hedge their funds against inflation by saving or investing in a cryptocurrency.
The crypto dons of Beirut
See our full list of pros and cons below. Andrew Munro was the global cryptocurrency editor at Finder, covering all aspects of cryptocurrency and the blockchain. The three main parts are:. You only need to download the main Crypto. Across all of these services, you can get substantial benefits such as higher returns, better interest rates on loans and more rewards from your card by staking the CRO cryptocurrency. The Crypto.
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Use the app to stay up to speed on the fast-paced digital market of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin. Read the latest articles and know the basics about crypto directly from the app. Choose your preferred currency, tap Buy, and PayPal will verify your identity. Explore crypto articles to learn about digital currencies and how they work.
Crypto.com ArenaRELATED VIDEO: How to Cash Out Your Crypto? (Best Banks, OTCs, Exchanges, etc)
Every few days, , strangers come together online to buy little-known cryptocurrencies, also known as altcoins, at exactly 2 p. Eastern time. Then, anywhere from 30 to seconds later, they sell them en masse or at least try to. Those who buy and sell at the right time can potentially make out like bandits. This will pump the price straight up.
Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and in-depth research determine where and how companies may appear. Learn more about how we make money. Crypto wallets are an essential tool for buying, trading and selling cryptocurrencies. Traders need them to store crypto securely, as well as to protect and validate transaction information.
5 Best Crypto Wallets of 2022
Buy, sell and earn crypto assets with a regulated Swiss company. The bank guarantee by a state-backed Swiss Cantonal Bank and our audited cold storage solution are some of the reasons why our clients trust us with over CHF 5 billion in cryptocurrencies. Additionally, crypto assets can be traded against various fiat currencies.