Newsbeat

From high school dropout to Bitcoin millionaire

Erik Finman Image copyright Newsbeat

Erik Finman, at the age of 19, is worth four million dollars.

He made his fortune by investing in Bitcoin and using it to develop his businesses.

Newsbeat first spoke to the teenager in 2014 when he'd just turned $1,000 (£700) into $100,000.

He told us how, after struggling in school, he started a company that paired students looking for work experience with intern positions.

"I made a bet with my parents that if I made a million dollars by the age of 18 I wouldn't have to go to college," he said.

And by the time he was 18, Erik claims he had made even more than that.

The teenager, from Idaho, features in Radio 1's latest WTF (What's the Fuss?) programme about Bitcoin.

In it, Newsbeat investigates the hype around the volatile cryptocurrency and where it all began.

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Media captionWhat's The Fuss about Bitcoin? Uncovering the currency everyone is talking about.

"Right now one Bitcoin is worth around $10,000 (£7,000) and I have about 401 Bitcoin so that's just over about four million dollars, currently," Erik tells us.

He says "currently" because the price of Bitcoin plummets and rises so often you can never be too sure exactly how much money's in your digital wallet.

But with Silicon Valley buffs, celebrities and now even amateur Bitcoin enthusiasts getting involved using Bitcoin exchange apps, cryptocurrency is more accessible than ever.

"Now anyone can work from wherever they want with just an internet connection and a laptop," he says.

"You could be a young developer that created a product with a coin involved but be terrible at marketing.

"Someone you've never met, half-way across the world, could be amazing at marketing and see your product and use their marketing talent to promote it without ever talking to you, the creator, in the first place.

"People will be co-founders without ever talking to each other even once," he says.

Image copyright Erik Finman

Erik sold his first company for more Bitcoin and is currently travelling the world looking for a team to help him develop a cryptocurrency of his own.

As well as investing in business, he's also built up quite the reputation for enjoying the finer things in life.

"I like the fast cars, I like driving an Audi R8.

"I was recently in London and I'm going to Paris very soon, so I like travelling around the world, fast cars and being a bit braggadocios - maybe a little obnoxious, but in a satirical way," he tells us.

But despite Bitcoin's volatility, Erik is confident in cryptocurrency.

"The only reason to fear the end of Bitcoin is if there's a better competitor. Cryptocurrency is absolutely here to stay. Its success is absolutely inevitable.

"Is Bitcoin MySpace or is it Facebook, Google and Amazon?" he adds.

"Is it one of those early technologies that will survive this moment?

"I don't know, but I'm diversified. I'm on other cryptocurrencies and outside of it as well, but I really like cryptocurrency and I see them as the future."

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