Why are Israeli teens going into cryptocurrency now?

More and more Israeli teenagers have gotten involved in the field of cryptocurrency trading, a virtual currency that is secured by cryptography.

 A coin representing the bitcoin cryptocurrency is seen on computer circuit boards in this illustrative picture (photo credit: REUTERS)
A coin representing the bitcoin cryptocurrency is seen on computer circuit boards in this illustrative picture
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Gal Teshuva, 18, a senior in high school from Rishon Lezion, began showing an interest in trading in cryptocurrencies when the epidemic first broke out. “I would see my dad sitting as his computer – he works in capital market trading – and I thought to myself, hey this could really have some potential. I felt like I’d just seen the trailer of a movie and my curiosity was piqued. It absolutely made me want to see the entire film.”

"I felt like I’d just seen the trailer of a movie and my curiosity was piqued. It absolutely made me want to see the entire film."

Gal Teshuva

So, what did you do?

“I began reading everything I could find online about it. I watched YouTube videos so that I could boost my knowledge base. When I realized that this wasn’t enough, I took a course, learned how to read the graphs and understand the nuances better. Then, when I felt ready, I began investing. At first, I only invested in low-risk deals, so I could get some experience and increase my self-assurance.”

How did you fit all this in alongside your classes and homework for high school?

“It didn’t disrupt my school day at all. If you know how to manage your time properly and set up a schedule that fits your life, then it’s possible to get everything done. I even still had time to go out with my friends.”

 GAL TESHUVA, 18: ‘I felt like I’d just seen the trailer of a movie and my curiosity was piqued.’  (credit: Bar Teshuva) GAL TESHUVA, 18: ‘I felt like I’d just seen the trailer of a movie and my curiosity was piqued.’ (credit: Bar Teshuva)

Teshuva is not alone. More and more Israeli teenagers have gotten involved in the field of cryptocurrency trading, a virtual currency that is secured by cryptography. These teens purchase the digital currency with regular money, and then make purchases and carry out investments using the digital currency. The profits that the teens make from these transactions can be used in specific places.

While people interested in investing in regular stocks that are traded on stock exchanges must be 18 or older, there is no minimum age requirement for investing in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin or NFTs. Moreover, these transactions are not subjected to regulations or supervision of a particular country or bank. Cryptocurrencies are more volatile, and although they have the potential for bringing in a high return, there is also a good chance that they will lead to losses. In some countries around the world, including the US and China, cases have been reported in which six and nine-year-olds have become millionaires, and who become owners of successful companies as a result of the proper management of digital currencies

Adi Sahrai, 17, from Modi’in, and his good friend Shahar Duda’i, 17, from Jerusalem, began trading in cryptocurrencies during the pandemic. “I remember when I first learned about NFTs, and how you can earn hundreds of percent by buying and selling them,” Sahrai explains. “I immediately began researching about cryptocurrencies, learning everything I could about the subject.

“At first, it wasn’t clear at all how people were making money from cryptocurrency trading,” continues Sahrai, “so I spent a lot of time investigating. I literally spent every spare moment I could reading about it – on the bus to and from school, then all afternoon and evening. The more I uncovered, the more I began to understand that we’re talking about huge amounts of money. So, I began investing a little bit here and there, learning how to do this by trial and error. At first, I didn’t take any big risks, I wanted to start really slowly. But soon, I started to get the hang of it, and I started making riskier investments, and earning larger margins.”

“I first heard about cryptocurrencies from my friend, Adi,” adds Duda’i. “My main reason for wanting to learn how to trade in cryptocurrencies was my desire not to be dependent on someone else. I wanted to be my own boss. I didn’t have any financial backing from my parents, so I started investing really small amounts. Then, I slowly developed my skills and knowledge base.”

Agam Abecasis, 15, from Beersheba, who is a member of Unistream, a nonprofit that promotes entrepreneurial and technological thinking among teens in Israel’s periphery, is interested in business and entrepreneurship. She follows changes in stock exchange rates, reads books on the subject and has begun investing in cryptocurrencies. “My interest in digital currencies began back at the end of eighth grade, just after COVID-19 broke out,” Abecasis explains. “Since I’m still just a kid, I feel a lot of security. I mean, if I lose some money now, it’s not a big deal. But I’m taking it slow and learning a tremendous amount along the way. I’m only doing deals I know that if I lose all the money, it won’t be the end of the world. Anyway, I’m a very cautious person.

“I spend a few hours every day studying the market. I’ve been following what’s going on with all the currencies, trying to figure out which way the market might turn. The fact that I’m investing money that I’ve earned myself really boosts my confidence. I don’t spend as much time on schoolwork as a result, but I’ve still managed to keep my grades up.”

What is it about cryptocurrencies that you find so attractive?

“Money is certainly not the main focus,” Sahrai says. “You feel part of a community that offers perks like getting a table at a gourmet restaurant without having to wait on line, for example. It sounds like cryptocurrency is an exciting field, but you have to really understand how this new market works before getting your feet wet. There are high risks involved, and if you want to succeed, you have to know how to take risks. If you start worrying your head off about how a certain currency is doing, you’ll never get anywhere. You need to keep your eye on the big picture so you can figure out which deals are worthwhile, and which are too risky. I am always studying the entire market and I investigate as thoroughly as possible before making any decisions.”

“Making money from investing in cryptocurrencies gives me a sense of independence,” adds Duda’i. “I have a few part-time jobs, as a waiter and in PR consulting, and since I began investing in cryptocurrencies my daily schedule has been altered greatly. The aspect I like the best is knowing that not many other people are engaged in this field. This has really helped me boost my confidence and having more money has been so helpful. Now, I can afford to buy things for myself that I couldn’t before.”

“What was most attractive to me was that I could be the one controlling my money and deciding where I want to invest small amounts of money, which makes it much less risky. It’s really great that people who only have a small amount of money can also invest in cryptocurrencies. I love having complete control over where I put my money.”

Roee Nadiv, 16, from Nahariya, took investing in cryptocurrencies even one step further; he created a course for teens who want to learn about cryptocurrencies (anyone who’s interested can contact him on his Instagram account: roeenadiv1). “I started taking an interest in cryptocurrency investing after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. My parents were really strict about us not going out during the first lockdown, and I quickly got bored. My dad saw an article about digital currency and asked me if I want to learn what it is. So, I began reading, and the more I learned, the more I realized that there was really a chance I could make some money from it. I made a few tiny investments with my dad’s help. I don’t view this as a game at all. It’s incredible that you can make money without leaving your home. Up until now, all of my jobs have required lots of physical labor, from which I’d come home absolutely exhausted. When I saw that I could make money from investing in cryptocurrency, I realized this was a much easier, more comfortable way to make money.”

When did you start feeling comfortable enough with the material that you felt you could teach a class on the subject?

“When I started earning a nice amount of money from my investments. I was really excited to help other teens learn how to do this, too. But there are also soldiers and adults in my classes, too. Teens are really eager to learn about crypto investing because they see that it’s so much easier than jobs that require lots of physical endurance and only pay minimum wage. I have over 350 students now since people who’ve taken my classes have told their friends about it and word is spreading. I even have a waiting list now for my upcoming class. One of the best parts of crypto investing is that you can do everything by phone. I can make a deal between classes, or while I’m out in the evening with friends.”

“I think that everyone who engages in cryptocurrency investing should also have a day job,” explains Teshuva. “I don’t invest large enough amounts, so anyway I can’t afford to stop working. I think it makes sense for people to have multiple forms of income.”

What do your friends think about the fact that you’re investing in cryptocurrency?

“Some of my friends are really supportive and say things like, ‘When your business gets big, I’ll invest with you’. Then there are the friends who don’t understand how it works and think I’m gambling with my money. I don’t blame them, because it does sound risky, but really they’re just uninformed. I think it’s important for people to learn about this field while they’re still young. Even to teach about it in school. I’m not saying school-age kids should be actively trading, but they should learn what it’s all about.”

“Some people think it’s really weird and disturbing that I’m involved in crypto investing, while others are so incredibly jealous of me,” adds Sahrai. 

“People think I’m really strange for engaging in this kind of activity,” continues Duda’i. “But hey, if a 14-year-old kid can become a YouTube star, then it’s not so crazy for us to be trading cryptocurrencies.”

“Yeah, most people think it’s super weird for a girl to be involved in investing at all,” says Abecasis, “and that I read books about it and spend time learning about the field.”

“My friends give me lots of positive feedback,” says Nadiv. “All of them are working their butts off in minimum wage jobs, and they see me making quite a bit of money without even getting out of my chair.”

And how have your parents reacted?

Nadiv: “They’re extremely proud of me.”

Duda’i: “My parents are less excited about my new-found occupation. They’re not old-school, they’re just worried about me.”

Sahrai: “My parents are pretty cool about it. They are excited about my economic independence, that I am showing maturity and that I manage my daily schedule well. My family is supportive and I’ve never lacked for anything because of money, but now if I want a certain pair of shoes that are a bit pricey, I just go and buy them with my own money. I could even buy a car if I wanted to. No longer can anyone tell me what I can or can’t buy.”

Abecasis: “My parents are 100% supportive of me and of everything I’m doing.”

Teshuva: “My father works in the field, so he’s extremely proud and excited for me. We talk about issues related to cryptocurrency all the time.”

Do you see yourself working in this field in the future?

Teshuva: “There’s no way to know now, but I hope so.”

Sahrai: “This field is not going to disappear; it’s just going to grow bigger every year. I don’t think I’ll work in it full-time as a career, but I intend to keep investing on the side. I’d rather my career be in a field in which I can contribute to society and help people. My dream is that instead of learning about people like Bill Gates, they’ll learn about me. I want to really make it to the top.”

Nadiv: “In the future, I want to leverage everything I earn and invest it in business ventures and everything else I do. I have the knowledge needed for investing, so yeah, of course I’ll continue.”

One company that offers courses on cryptocurrency investing for teens is Aragon Israel. “We’re opening a class on cryptocurrency for teens,” explains Aviv Oaknin, the CEO of Aragon. “From a very young age, I was attracted to the world of investing, but there was nowhere for me to learn anything about how that world operates. Nowadays, teens are lucky to have the opportunity to learn professional tools, and not just rely on what they learned in school. At Aragon, our mission is to help young people access this information and learn the skills they need to succeed to be a successful investor.”

Do you project that the number of teens interested in this field will grow in the upcoming year?

“Absolutely,” Oaknin replies. “Our first class opened with 15 participants, but apparently they all told their friends about it and within two weeks the class had increased to 60 junior and high school-aged students. We currently have hundreds of students in classes, and I don’t see this upward trend changing anytime soon.”

Translated by Hannah Hochner.