For the past six months, 27-year-old Yang has worked mainly from home, mainly from his sofa, tracking and trading bitcoin, and watching the money roll in. The flat itself is modestly sized; Yang moved in in his pre-bitcoin days when he worked variously for a crowdfunder start-up, a branding consultancy and dabbled in hedge-fund management, all of which he describes as “creative financial work”. Now, though, his main focus is bitcoin, which is “much younger, more fun, and much more money”. Yang claims to make up to 1m yuan (£116,000) a month, under the radar of the taxman, purely from trading the online cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin has no physical form but the rewards are very tangible; Yang’s home is packed full of expensive gadgetry, most prominently a mega-sized flat screen smart board, over a metre wide, which Yang uses to chart bitcoin’s rise and fall in HD.
Normally, the graphs on Yang’s screen show bitcoin’s and his own fortunes going up and up. At the time of writing, one bitcoin is worth 6,600 yuan (£768) – recent months have seen the value hover well above 8,000 yuan. The global worth of bitcoin is over $14bn USD (£11.3bn), of which over 90% is in yuan, and Yang and his peers are cashing in. “I want a more splendid life,” he says.