Bitcoin student buy-up prompts Brisbane school to issue 'caution'

Bitcoin student buy-up prompts Brisbane school to issue 'caution'

Bitcoin student buy-up prompts Brisbane school to issue 'caution'

Updated 6 February 2018, 7:45 AEDT

A Brisbane school is planning to hold an information night to "educate" parents and students about the cryptocurrency amid concerns about student investors who may not be fully aware of the risks.

The buzz of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has sparked interest in young people around the world but it has become so prevalent in one Brisbane high school that it prompted an information night.

An email sent from St Laurence's College to parents said the school was aware some senior students had purchased digital currency and it wanted to hold an "educational presentation".

"While St Laurence's College has no official stance on this subject it is felt that the boys should be cautioned and educated about these purchases."

The email said a teacher would host a non-compulsory meeting for staff, Year 11 and 12 students and parents interested in the "new space".

"The presentation will look at features of cryptocurrencies, the technology underpinning them, and will give some very basic information about the state of the market and ways to keep investments safe," it read.

The presentation was to be held on February 2 but the ABC understands it was postponed.

Fear of missing out

Dhinesh Ganendran, who didn't go to the college, invested in cryptocurrency when he was just 15 years old.

"I was in Year 11 in my economics class and we were talking about financial payments and basically the discussion about Bitcoin come up," Mr Ganendran said.

"We explored the technology outside of the classroom and we just kept on reading and basically built a small community within the school of people who were into this stuff."

Four years on, the university student now holds a diverse portfolio of digital currencies and works part-time helping others interested in investing.

"We sell them Bitcoin or we take their money and we buy it for them on their behalf we also help them set up their accounts and make sure they're not signing up to scams," Mr Ganendran said.

He said cryptocurrency appeals to young people because it uses new technology.

"Young kids who like technology because we're surrounded by it like to read into this stuff and understand it… It's easy to access as long as you have internet connection anyone can connect to it around the world because it's a global network," he said.

One of his mates and former clients Ned Creese said he believed the increased interest is partly due to young people having "FOMO".

"The fear of missing out on potential monetary gains … if you put a deposit on an investment property or you take out a couple of thousand to invest in the ASX you're not going to see 200 to 500 per cent returns in a week or a day which you can see with some cryptos."

Investment education needed

A business and accounting professor from the Queensland University of Technology Chrisann Lee said although they are considered the "Net Generation" research showed teenagers still needed more education on investing.

"While they are quite strong on basic financial literacy skills such as budgeting and interest concepts they may be struggling with more advanced topics like investment," Dr Lee said.

She said high schoolers and young adults would benefit from cryptocurrency-specific information sessions like the one proposed by the school.

"Especially telling them the underlying asset that they are buying into, the technology that supports, the security and those kinds of things… they need to be fully aware to make informed decisions," she said.

Mr Creese said it wasn't a healthy mindset to expect quick returns and ultimately people should do their own research.

"Watch its trends and how it's moved and how it's grown to familiarise yourself with how cryptos work," he said.