The teacher in this story was at a low point when he started his crypto journey. Frustrated about his low income and limited resources, he took the big decision to start trading on P2P exchanges.
Ask him what he thinks about that decision now and he’ll say he has no regrets.
What was your point of entry into crypto?
Towards the end of 2020, a friend told me about Bitcoin. I think his exact words were, “it will change your life.” I didn’t believe him then because Bitcoin felt scary. So I didn’t take any action until February 2021.
What changed your mind?
Frustration. My job as a teacher in a private school paid me ₦25k (~$41) per month, and this barely covered my expenses. When my friend said that crypto would change my life, he meant I stood a better chance of earning more money from trading crypto.
I’m not exactly sure what happened in February 2021 that made me decide to give crypto a try. I didn’t even have any money to start with. What did I do? I used money that wasn’t mine — a colleague from work had kept ₦18k (~$30) — to kick things off.
That’s a significant risk.
It was. I don’t consider myself a risk-taker but at that point, I wanted to try something different. I had a plan to pay back the money from my salary if I lost it. But yes, it was still a significant risk. My options in crypto were limited at the time, though.
What do you mean?
Technically, the money wasn’t mine so I couldn’t buy and hold any coin. I was also new and didn’t have the knowledge required to do technical trades like futures and the rest. The only option was to trade on the peer-to-peer market as it was relatively easier and cheaper to transact in. I found an exchange I thought would work, opened an account, and verified it. Then I started setting offers.
Do you remember how your first trade went?
I remember that I made ₦500 (~$0.8) from it. See, that moment was the happiest I had been in a while. I called my friend and told him that he might be right. I’m not sure where the optimism came from, but it was there and I couldn’t ignore it.
Why were you so sure even though there was no guarantee that you’d be successful at it?
Belief. I needed to believe in something at that point, and that was it. I just generally had a good feeling about it. That’s probably why I asked my girlfriend’s sister to loan me ₦50k (~$83) so I could do more trades. My next salary also went into it, and I borrowed money from a couple of other sources. Subsequently, I returned all the money I borrowed and built on the profit I made.
When did you feel like it was working out the way you hoped it would?
July 2021, and this was five months into trading crypto. I wanted to change my phone, so I went to the store to look at options. I found an affordable one and told the sales attendant I wanted to pay for it. I didn’t expect what happened next.
What was that?
I’m not sure why, but they were like, “are you sure you can afford this phone?”
I was surprised too. But it was a moment of quick reflection: a few months before that time, I couldn’t have afforded the phone. It would have taken forever to save up for it on a ₦25k (~$41) salary. By the way, the phone in question cost ₦130k (~$216), and now I didn’t have to think too much before paying for it. There’s one more thing that showed me that crypto was changing my life as my friend promised.
Remember the girlfriend I mentioned earlier? I had known for a while that I wanted to start a family with her. However, I couldn’t afford a wedding at the beginning of the year, so I didn’t think about it. By August, I had enough in my savings to fund a wedding and start our family. So we started the conversations with everyone we needed to. We eventually got married in December 2021. It’s interesting how quickly things can change.
I agree with you.
It wasn’t all fun though. I was also dealing with the downsides of the P2P market.
The market is a low-trust environment, so I was always careful of potential scammers and fraudulent activities. But I still had an experience with one.
Sheesh. Sorry about that. Want to talk about it?
Sure. In August of 2021, I tried to sell some Bitcoin I had been holding for a while. I went on the exchange I used, set an offer and found a buyer who was going to pay the naira equivalent. The total value of the transaction was about ₦370k (~$616). Both of us fulfilled our end of the deal, and that was supposed to be the end of it. A few hours later, I found out that my bank account had been frozen, and I couldn’t access the money in it anymore.
I reached out to my bank. At first, the customer service person said they put a hold on my account because of the inflow of money. According to them, they wanted to know the source of the funds. I came clean and told him that most of the money came from transacting crypto, and he was like the bank didn’t support such transactions.
The CBN ban, right?
Yes. Thankfully, they promised to unfreeze it if I stopped using the account for crypto transactions. But first, I needed to provide some additional information, which I sent to them. The next day, they unfroze my account but I still couldn’t access the ₦370k (~$616) from the last transaction I made. The bank reached out to explain that the owner of the account was not aware of the transaction because his account had been hacked.
That doesn’t sound good.
They promised to get back to me after their investigations, but I wasn’t going to wait for them. Now, here was the mistake I made — I didn’t know the person I sold my Bitcoin to very well. His account wasn’t even verified. Rookie mistake.
I found his transactions on the exchange we used and reached out to two people he recently transacted with. It turned out that they were also locked out of their accounts because someone reported the bank transfers as fraudulent.
My working theory is that the account wasn’t hacked. The person on the other side just wanted to play a fast one on us, so he flagged the transactions with the banks in the hopes of getting the money back.
That’s scary. But you didn’t pursue it?
I did at first. It was going to be a court case, and I got a lawyer. It dragged on and on for months, which was stressful for me. By the time it was about to get to court in November, my wedding was close so I had to prioritise the things I wanted to spend my time and money on. At the end of the day, I let it go. My family wanted that too.
The bank reversed the transaction and the money was no longer in my account.
I lost my coins and didn’t get anything in return.
Man. How did you make sure another related scenario wouldn’t pop up?
First, I reported the account to the exchange and they banned it. But that was a fix for them, not for me. Subsequently, I started trading with only trusted and fully-verified vendors on the exchange. Basically, I now focus on the conditions I can control.
Hmm. How did you move on from the scam?
As I said, I got married in December. I was starting a new life, so that was enough for me. Besides, as unfortunate as that event was, I didn’t go broke. I was still transacting high volumes and making money at it. I was honestly just looking forward to the new year.
By January, I had started holding coins — mostly BTC and ETH — for the long term.
Do you deal with only BTC and ETH?
Yes. I understand them the most, and they move the fastest in the P2P market. Also, I don’t believe in holding too many coins.
Unfortunately, the market has been seeing consistent dips since March this year or thereabout. What that means is that the competition is higher than ever.
Yes. The volume of trades has decreased. People don’t want to buy because they are not sure if another price crash is near and they don’t want to sell either because the price could rise at any time.
How has that impacted you?
I have separate wallets for the assets I intend to hold for a long time and the assets I want to trade. For the latter, I buy and sell as soon as I can make a profit and look out for the next opportunity. I have to make decisions faster than ever now. That said, the income from trading has reduced from last year’s. Thankfully, my wife and I are low maintenance.
Have the market conditions affected your confidence in crypto?
I’m still holding and trading so my confidence in crypto has not changed. I’m hearing that the prices will still crash, and that’s okay. It will bounce back at some point. And I’ll be here when that happens.
Besides, I’m still making more from this than from my 9–5.
My teaching job.
Oh. How much do you earn now?
I’m curious, is there a reason you’re still at the job when you make more money from crypto?
I’m passionate about teaching. In a way, you can even say that crypto is funding my passion because that’s the only reason I can afford to stay at the job. Nevertheless, I also know that I can’t stay at the job for much longer. It’s little money for a lot of work. One thing at a time, though. At the moment, I know I’m fine.
My friend was right — crypto did change my life.