Financial adviser Tyrone Ross Jr. ducked into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan wearing a checked blazer and a pocket square in February to meet with me, a simple activity that’s unimaginable now. He approached with a wide, disarming smile, and its effect was immediately clear: This is a man I would trust with my money.

Ross’s young, tech-savvy clients invest in crypto. Most of them are men, “but there’s a lot of women interest,” he says. For many, crypto was their first investment. “As a black American, someone who was trying to push black folks into stocks for a while, they would never listen,” says Ross. “But for whatever reason, a lot of people just jumped into crypto, and are now reverse-engineering getting into stocks later.”

This post is part of Generation Crypto, by Jess Klein.

Not much has changed for Ross’ clients because of COVID-19, at least not in terms of their investment strategies. Ross has also been working with his team virtually for the past two years, so working from home is no obstacle. And as of late March, he had yet to receive a single “panic call” from a client. “I literally had clients calling me, ‘Are we buying here or what?’” he says. At least one bought the drop.

For whatever reason, a lot of people just jumped into crypto, and are now reverse-engineering getting into stocks later.

After all, crypto investors are used to riding ups and downs in its volatile market. If anything, Ross is hoping the COVID-19 pandemic will help reveal crypto’s virtue as an option for the un- or under-banked. 

“The best example I have of that is my own family,” he says. His parents have gone most of their lives without bank accounts, but now they have one and they’re nervous, asking Ross if they should withdraw their money. “My mom said, ‘I’m not putting my money in any bank,’ and that’s all I need to hear,” he says, to convince himself there’s not enough trust in the traditional financial system. Sure, his mom calls crypto “space money,” but Ross firmly believes that cryptocurrency’s product market fit is with those suffering most from America’s significant class divide, one that’s being blown open even further by the pandemic.

“The fall of Rome is happening,” he says. “The United States is being brought to its knees.” So he’s bullish on bitcoin, perhaps even more so than usual. While much of the world is scrambling or on pause, Ross is building a project that will allow financial advisers to seamlessly access bitcoin, and he’s confident the smartest people in the world, now all stuck at home, are working on progressive crypto projects, too.

“Once we come out of this…the world is going to look different,” he says. “Digital everything is going to become a thing, and the only thing that’s missing right now is a true global money that’s run on the internet.”

“We have that,” he adds. “Crypto just needs its iPhone moment, and this may be it.”

This post is part of Generation Crypto by Jessica Klein.


ALSO FROM CONSENSUS MAGAZINE 2020:

The CoinDesk 50, by CoinDesk staff

Crypto in Corona: From Switzerland to Liberland, by Jeff Wilser

The Men Who Stare at Charts, by Ben Munster

Michelle Phan: The Beauty of Bitcoin, by Leigh Cuen

The Changemaker: Glen Weyl Puts His Radical Ideas Into Action, by Jeff Wilser

The Man Who Saw a Currency Cold War, by Jeff Wilser

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