Friday, October 30

Los Gatos teen writes the book on cryptocurrency – The Mercury News

As a freshman at Los Gatos High School, Koosha Azim signed up for a few different clubs, hoping to figure out what his interests were. One of the clubs was Future Business Leaders of America, and while he didn’t stay a member for long, his brief exposure to the subject of economics set him on a brand-new path. Now, at 17 years old, he’s helped write the book on cryptocurrency.

In May, Koosha and co-author Alyze Sam published “Stablecoin Economy: Ultimate Guide to Secure Digital Finance,” an eBook that aims to help readers enter the often cryptic world of e-currencies. Sam had done years of research on the subject, and she and Koosha combined it with interviews with startup founders and Wall Street experts in what Koosha calls their “magnum opus.”

“We saw that there was a great underlying need for educational materials in the space because there were still a lot of people entering wanting to learn more about Stablecoin and Bitcoin and cryptocurrency,” Koosha said.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Stablecoin function a lot like any other type of money—they can be exchanged for goods and services, but they run on the internet. They’re not backed by a bank or a federal reserve, and they can be exchanged anonymously. Koosha says these types of money have become the go-to for people around the world who have lost faith in traditional banking systems or who live in places where corruption is commonplace.

Koosha has begun giving lectures on cryptocurrency to students at universities throughout Africa, teaching the contents of the new book. He serves as director of technology for the nonprofit Africa Blockchain University, which partners with schools and other groups to try to raise awareness of alternative financial systems.

“There are a lot of unbanked people in a lot of Third World countries, especially in Africa, and by teaching them about financial literacy and about cryptocurrency, we’re giving this new perspective and this new knowledge that they can take to get that next level of financial freedom,” Koosha said.

Koosha’s education on the subject was much less formal. After his friend chose to use Bitcoin during a mock-investment exercise at school, Koosha went home and began looking into it online. He watched countless videos on YouTube, listened to podcasts and discovered websites that track cryptocurrency markets. Before he had even studied economics in school, he was trying to “put the puzzle pieces together,” working to figure out what made this market tick.

He then found a group called Blockchain at Berkeley, a group run out of UC Berkeley that attracts people from across the Bay Area, as well as startups from students at other top universities. Koosha used the connections he made in the group to get his foot in the door with some startups. He said his connection to Gen Z and his enthusiasm helped him convince people to take a chance on a high school student.

“I’m a young kid, a high schooler, and I really want to get exposed,” he remembers telling them. “I’m like, ‘You guys are older. I can maybe bring something new to the table.’”

Koosha said the next step for him is a bit uncertain. Global coronavirus lockdowns have stalled some of his plans to expand his teaching, but he continues to hold lectures over Zoom. He said he sometimes hears from students about how his lessons have affected their lives.

“The best thing is when people I teach in the class message me on Twitter,” Koosha said. “It means so much to them. A 28-year-old business student from Lagos, they feel it a lot more.”

Koosha is finishing up his junior year at West Valley College, where he studies economics as part of their Middle College program. For now, Koosha said he’s going to enjoy his summer, maybe use the time to painting some abstract artworks to add to his portfolio.

“I’m going to try to take a little chill pill with the whole business thing, because I don’t want to, like, burn out,” Koosha said. “I’m still a teenager.”

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