Herbert Sim’s world is one of high-tech calculated risk, and the cutting-edge projects he invests in sound like products from a sci-fi novel.
According to Herbert – who trademarked his nickname ‘The Bitcoin Man’ and has a combined social media following of over a million – cryptocurrency is the future, artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform global politics, and transhumanism could be the next step in the evolution of the human race.
Herbert’s main passion is for cryptocurrency, and in particular Bitcoin, as he suggests that unlike fiat money (paper money), the varied digital currency of crypto gives “central control back to the people.”
Despite these beliefs, he is cautious about offering investment advice for the coming year.
“Financial advice is very dangerous. When people make money from the things you say, they are happy, but when they lose, everybody comes after your throat.
“A lot of crises happen in crypto, daily. Cryptocurrencies come and go, and you can be a multi-billion-dollar company and disappear, just like that. The past year is a testament to that. The whole crash is still ongoing.”
The crash Herbert is referring to took the value of Bitcoin from almost $65,000 per coin down to just over $16,000. Today it rests at around $23,000, demonstrating the erratic and risky nature of crypto investments.
Herbert was fortunate to have gotten into crypto at the right time in the early 2000s, when each Bitcoin was worth just $5. Born to a middle-class Singapore family, before completing his Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Wolverhampton, Herbert first took out a loan to fund his studies in Oklahoma City University in 2007, USA, where he took a mass communications degree specialising in liberal arts. When he joined a fraternity, he was a marketer surrounded by a crew of computer scientists, who introduced him to Bitcoin.
Herbert says: “Because the market was very small back then, it was very easy to manipulate. So I was behind the scenes, shilling it a lot."
"I would get girls with bikinis with “Bitcoin” on them to flash at clubs. Even today in my social media, if you’ve noticed, I still wear Bitcoin bling because that branding has stuck with me.”
Claims of market manipulation like this (but on a far broader scale) continue to haunt the cryptocurrency market today, but Herbert believes that in time Bitcoin and other successful digital currencies will become globally accepted and used.
After having bought Bitcoins at such a fortunate time, it is perhaps unsurprising that Herbert feels so strongly about preaching the crypto gospel. Over the years he has become a talking head on the topic, and now travels the world speaking at cryptocurrency conferences. As well as this, he juggles studying an Economics PhD with solving problems that arise for the numerous tech start-ups he has invested in.
Herbert says that the most satisfying part of his life is when the value of crypto rises steeply – known as a pump, or a bull run.
“The acceleration and joy is indescribable. You saw it coming but you didn’t know when it was going to hit, so when it hits, the excitement is ridiculous. And sometimes you think it’s going to stop but it continues to surpass your thinking.”
Herbert also calls himself a philanthropist, and says that he is passionate about World Vision, the international Christian child charity, which he gave to extensively in 2017.
“I bought medicine and a dispensary for an entire village in Thailand. I also sponsored 153 kids all the way from kindergarten until university, and I went there every year until 2018."
“Many of their parents picked up garbage for a living and I was concerned that the children would end up doing the same. To help break this vicious cycle, I decided to at least put them through school so that they had a fighting chance to go into a white-collar job.”
Over the next year and, he believes, many to follow, Herbert is most interested in the concept of transhumanism – the belief that human evolution can be moved forward via sophisticated technology.
Only time will tell if this and the cryptocurrency gamble will pay off – but Herbert is excited to be at the forefront of it all.