January 28, 2023

While most Sydneysiders are in bed, some, including Cronulla-based market analyst Lee Savage, are trading sleep for the chance to make big money in cryptocurrency, the world’s only 24-hour market. day, seven days a week.

As the port city calms down, financial centers including New York come to life, fueling volatility, or bigger swings, in the value of cryptocurrency which Savage says can create opportunities to make big money.

“At first, I used to trade until around one in the morning, but then I realized there was a lot of volatility even later at night,” says the former IT project manager. “American traders are more active at that time and cryptocurrency has become closely tied to what’s going on in the US stock market.”

But it hasn’t been easy, especially in the last year. The price of Bitcoin, the most traded cryptocurrency, plunged from a high of around $60,000 in March last year to below $25,000 in November, trading at around $30,000 in mid-January this year.

The collapse of the global cryptocurrency exchange FTX in late 2022 affected tens of thousands of Australians, after Brisbane-based Digital Surge, which had deep business ties to the company, lost $33 million.

But those people are a small proportion of the more than one million Australians who own cryptocurrency according to the Australian Taxation Office, or about 5 percent of the Australian adult population, according to Roy Morgan.

Bondi, Westmead and Darlinghurst are among the areas in the state with the highest number of accounts registered with the Independent Reserve cryptocurrency exchange. The suburbs with the highest concentration of users with accounts include Homebush, Wentworth Point and Zetland.

Adrian Przelozny, CEO of the Independent Reserve, notes that higher-income suburbs tend to have a higher number of registered accounts and that income level is a substantial factor in a person’s likelihood of owning cryptocurrency. “Through independent analysis, we saw that the propensity to own crypto increases almost four times among people with the highest income,” he says.

Savage’s routine has changed since she had a daughter but, about five years ago, it changed regularly at dawn. “Usually she would trade from around six in the evening until two or three in the morning,” she says. “I didn’t have a family then, so it was a little easier.”

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Savage says it was his gambling habits and grit that kept him awake. “It was probably because I spent many years gaming late at night,” he says. “I’m also quite a determined person when I set my sights on something, coming from a modest upbringing.”

While his sleep schedule was often all over the place, the long nights prepared Savage for fatherhood. “I guess it was good training because when my daughter arrived, my sleep schedule was out of whack as well,” she says.

I do not change all hours in the morning. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.

Merchant, author and zen monk Peter Castle

Trader and author Peter Castle usually makes his last trades before 11 pm and uses stop losses, a mechanism that limits the amount he could lose, should the market take a nosedive while he sleeps. “I don’t trade every hour of the morning. I’ve been there, I’ve done that,” he says.

And while shopkeepers have an edgy, eccentric image in pop culture, Castle is a Zen monk who practices Buddhist principles.

“I am very passionate about mental health,” he says. “I started meditating in response to trading 30 years ago because I needed something to hold my head. It makes you less impulsive, it calms you down, and it makes you more patient.”

Addiction is a mental health problem that University of Sydney associate professor of information systems Daniel Shlagwein says can be found in space. “This element of gamification can show up when many individual investors start trading cryptocurrency, for themselves, on any exchange they want,” he says. “On the heavy trading end, we see this phenomenon of people exhibiting, by medical criteria, near-addictive behavior toward trading cryptocurrency, whether they make money or not.”

Women are less represented in the crypto space than men, but data privacy manager Karin Van Eeden discovered her passion during the pandemic.

Data privacy manager Karin Van Eeden opened a TikTok account during the pandemic to help educate people about cryptocurrency.Credit:steven siewart

“It actually started through social media, including TikTok, and learning little bits and pieces about crypto,” she says. “I got so obsessively into it that I ended up quitting my job and doing crypto and tech full time.”

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Van Eeden invested in cryptocurrency and documented his journey on TikTok, amassing more than 90,000 followers on his @crypto_karin account. “I just tried to be really honest, sharing my ride, whether I made five thousand or lost five thousand,” she says.

Although she mostly trades in the early afternoon, Karin has traded later when there was an event or announcement.

“I remember setting my alarm several times in the middle of the night when I was waiting for news,” she says. “When it’s US time and things are happening, you don’t want to miss it.”

“When women get interested and want to learn more, it can be a kind of boys’ club.”

Data Privacy Manager Karin Van Eeden

About 3 percent of women and 7 percent of men in NSW owned cryptocurrency in August, according to data from Roy Morgan.

As a woman, Van Eeden says that entering the crypto space was not easy.

“When women get interested and want to learn more, it can be a boys’ club,” she says. “Several times I have shared a video and people comment things like ‘you are stupid’ or ‘you don’t know anything’. There may be a lack of respect for women in space.”

Van Eeden notes that, statistically, women tend to be more risk-averse investors, but says there needs to be more women-friendly resources.

“There’s a lack of introductory resources where women can feel like a safe community to learn and ask questions and not be treated like we’re dumb,” she says.

Van Eeden says going to in-person events in Sydney, though also male-dominated, has helped her find female-welcoming crypto communities.

Michael Berman, CEO of Sydney-based financial broker FXTRADING.com, says that the popularity of cryptocurrencies has skyrocketed in the last three years, with the offering of cryptocurrencies on his platform increasing recently.

Like Savage, he says that the peak time for trading tends to be overnight. “Usually the big economic news in the US comes out around 10:30 pm,” he says. “So most of our client volume is traded in the middle of the night.”

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But he describes market activity as a “relay race” in which, almost at all times, there are time zones in which large numbers of people are waking up and trading.

Berman attributes some of the rapid growth in crypto investments to central banks and governments pumping extra money into the economy, but says it’s still a trillion-dollar industry.

In the more than two decades that Berman has worked in the financial industry, he has seen a considerable shift toward automated trading. “Technology is playing a bigger role in executing all operations,” he says.

Bexley-based software firm NuGenesis has created a prototype artificial intelligence (AI) technology that chief executive Hussein Faraj says can predict price movements for cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum four hours in advance with an accuracy of 99.9%.

Factors that feed the algorithm include activity on social media, such as tweets.

But it has cost them substantial amounts of money and time. “To teach an AI, we need to know everything,” says Faraj. “So we purposely execute trades to lose money. We have thrown a lot of money to teach it”.

NuGenesis CEO Hussein Faraj said his team has been staying up around the clock to develop its technologies.Credit:steven siewert

That’s one way Faraj gives the AI ​​data to work with when they can’t access information about market makers, like brokerages, that influence the value of cryptocurrencies.

Liaison with international teams means senior team members can work up to 20 hours a day.

“In technology in general, there is no nine to five,” says NuGenesis CTO Luay Mohsen.

Over the years, trading has also become more flexible. “People in the old days traded from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon and that was it,” says Berman. “Now you can literally trade all day.”

Savage no longer operates at night as often, relying on his experience to identify the best moments. “With experience, you start to learn the times and dates that make the most sense to trade rather than having to trade every night,” she says. “(But) I still do it sometimes because US time is so strong for when volatility spikes.”

But the artificial intelligence program, which the NuGenesis team has called Navis, runs around the clock. “The guy never sleeps,” says Faraj.

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