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South Africa’s Vinny Lingham has been de­scribed as a “se­rial Sil­i­con Val­ley en­tre­pre­neur”, mak­ing it big in the United States when he sold his vir­tual gift card ser­vice Gyft to First Data for over $50 mil­lion in 2014.

Lingham has also served as founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of web­site builder ser­vice Yola and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions firm Click­s2­cus­tomers. His lat­est ven­tures in­clude his role as CEO of blockchain iden­tity start-up Civic and his po­si­tion as a “Shark” on M-net’s busi­ness show Shark Tank.

The cryp­tocur­rency Bit­coin is another tar­get on Lingham’s radar, along with a grow­ing num­ber of in­vestors who see big po­ten­tial in the dig­i­tal cur­rency. With South Africa’s po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment prov­ing par­tic­u­larly un­sta­ble as 2017 has pro­gressed – and the rand suf­fer­ing as a con­se­quence – peo­ple are look­ing to move their in­vest­ments into as­sets which will en­sure they emerge un­scathed from these tur­bu­lent times.

The ques­tion is: can Bit­coin pro­vide a safe haven for lo­cal in­vestors?

Mas­sive Bit­coin growth

“Long term, Bit­coin holds a lot of promise and I think it's a unique and spe­cial as­set class. Right now, there are sig­nif­i­cant tech­ni­cal risks fac­ing the in­dus­try that it will most likely over­come, but other than that, as a longterm in­vest­ment (5 to 10 years), I ad­vo­cate that it will be a good one,” Lingham told My­broad­band.

Bit­coin has shown mas­sive growth over the past two years, fol­low­ing a sub­stan­tial drop in its value be­tween the end of 2013 and the start of 2015. If you pur­chased Bit­coin in April 2015 – when it was trad­ing at around R2,900 for 1 Bit­coin – and sold your stake in April 2017, you would have in­creased your in­vest­ment by just over 530%.

“Like all in­vest­ments, it should form part of a bal­anced portfolio, and squarely in the higher-risk cat­e­gory for your in­vest­ments,” said Lingham.

In­vest­ing in South Africa

Lingham is also vo­cal about South Africa’s po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, but is hope­ful that the coun­try and its prospects go­ing for­ward – in­clud­ing in­vest­ing lo­cally – will im­prove.

“The world is a crazy place and there are risks in ev­ery mar­ket. I'm still hope­ful for South Africa, but as I've said be­fore: things will need to get worse be­fore they get bet­ter. It's the na­ture of peo­ple, and po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness cy­cles,” said Lingham.

In terms of in­vest­ing in the coun­try, Lingham ad­vised South Africans to pri­ori­tise the set­tling of ex­ist­ing debt as part of their in­vest­ment strat­egy.

“In a high-in­ter­est-rate en­vi­ron­ment like South Africa, you want to be pay­ing no in­ter­est ev­ery month. Pay off your debts as quickly as you can and keep a tight house­hold bud­get. Don't look to make in­vest­ments when you still owe money on your mort­gage or credit cards - on a risk ad­justed ba­sis, it's just not smart,” said Lingham. ■

Vinny Lingham

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