Katy Golvala


Cryptocurrency has gotten slapped with its fair share of labels: some say it’s the future of money; others say it’s nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. If you spend an evening with the members of Bushwick’s very own Crypto Club, you’ll start to feel like, above all else, it’s a revolution.

“It will overthrow governments … there’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it,” Jack Burns tells me, just before taking a sip of his Miller Lite. It’s a quiet Tuesday evening at Molasses Books on Hart Street, and we’re sitting at a table near the front window for an impromptu meeting of the club. Burns is a founding member, and he’s been investing in crypto since September 2017.

The meeting was just announced that morning, so it’s a smaller group than usual. Lauren Cannon, the club’s founder, is also there along with two of her friends who admit they came just to hang out. Before long, the friends casually split off and make their way up to the bar, leaving Burns and Cannon to compare notes on what they’ve seen happening in crypto over the past few weeks. Their excitement about crypto is contagious and their level of knowledge about it, dizzying. I try my best to keep up.

For an hour and a half, while most people around us silently thumb through used books, Burns and Cannon go back and forth, discussing seemingly hundreds of coins and applications for blockchain, cryptocurrency’s underlying technology.

There are a couple of favorites: VeChain, a supply chain management solution run on the blockchain that just secured a partnership with BMW; Steemit, a blockchain-based version of Reddit that pays users based on the popularity of their content; and Salt Lending, a lending platform that uses crypto holdings as collateral (not to be confused with Salt Coin, a commodity cryptocurrency that’s based on salt mining).

Right now, the investment at the top of the duo’s list is Enjin Coin (ENJ), which aims to be the staple cryptocurrency of the online gaming industry. In January, the Enjin Coin team announced that they’re releasing a plugin for Minecraft, the second-best-selling game of all time. Even though Burns and Cannon aren’t gamers, they recognize the potential growth in the gaming market and think that Enjin Coin could reap huge returns.

Burns and Cannon don’t strike you as the types who would have an obvious interest in crypto. Burns works in fashion and says he’s never been as interested in anything finance-related before. Cannon has been investing in crypto since early 2015, and it’s one of the only times in her life that she’s been an early mover in tech. When cell phones became popular, Cannon put off buying one for so long that her mom eventually sent her one out of frustration. She’s never even had a Facebook page.

Today, the two are deep in the crypto scene. Cannon attends national crypto conferences and speaks at crypto events. Burns has invested in 14 different altcoins. They’re constantly texting each other about the most recent ICO or newest blockchain application. Last month, they appeared in a VICE interview, weighing in on whether or not we’re currently in a “crypto bubble.”

Burns and Cannon both have more money than they’ve ever had before, and they want to see other people get in on the action. They’re excited about the promising investment opportunities that crypto gives to average people.

“It’s a flipping of wealth,” says Cannon, explaining that such sky-high returns on investment have usually been for the super-rich. In fact, she’s convinced that crypto could usher in the biggest redistribution of wealth in our lifetime.

Regular people can only cash in on the crypto boom if they’re aware of the opportunities out there —  that’s where the club comes in. It’s a space where people in the neighborhood can come together and discuss what they’re seeing in the world of crypto. This way, when the next big potential investment comes along, local residents have a better chance of knowing about it and profiting.

Towards the end of 2017, cryptocurrency’s promise of explosive growth played out in real-time. Prices across coins soared and, in late December, bitcoin shot up to $20,000. But, the value of cryptocurrency has plunged in 2018, partly in response to impending regulations. Bitcoin currently hovers around $10,000.

Burns and Cannon say they’ve lost around $18,000 each since the start of the year —  but they’re not worried. The two investors are still net positive on their initial investments; in addition, they believe in the future of crypto technology and the potential it has to be a positive force.

“As much as we want to make money off of it, it is a tool for social change,” says Burns.

Interested in crypto and want to meet other people in Bushwick who are, too? Check out the Crypto Club’s official website for information on upcoming meetings.

Cover image courtesy of Andre Francois