By TRACEY ROXBURGH
A burgeoning Whakatipu business is about to make resort history.
No Trace Events, which celebrated its first birthday last Thursday, is about to take on a new staffer — paying him entirely in bitcoin.
New performance and finance director Richard McDonald will soon help the company expand its offering into finance and investment education.
McDonald, who has 18 years’ experience working for hedge funds and investment banks across the world, including in London and on Wall Street, says there’s a ‘‘certain stigma’’
attached to finance in general, with many feeling it’s for the elite, mature, or ‘‘stuffy people in suits’’.
Given the growing interest and popularity of crypto currency investment, No Trace co-founders Charlie Charalambides, Sebastian Dettmann and Alejandro Camhi approached him
‘‘with an idea to bring it to everybody’’ in an easily-digestible format.
McDonald says, in part because of the government and central bank response to Covid, New Zealand has a ‘‘huge level of inflation … we haven’t seen since the ’80s’’.
‘‘So that feeds through to mortgage rates, to people’s jobs, so it’s explaining that, in a more simple way to understand, what effect that’s going to have on them, their future, their KiwiSaver, and then look to potentially investing in the stockmarket or in crypto, and how they’re going to protect their future.’’
Charalambides says finding an expert and mentor in the field, particularly face-to-face, is ‘‘quite valuable at the moment’’.
‘‘We’ve seen there’s huge demand for people trying to expand their financial knowledge, where to invest their money, but not knowing where to look or go, so we think offering that service in a fun and interactive way [is a good idea].’’
Plans are afoot to offer one-on-one sessions, small-group sessions, and through an interactive trading game McDonald’s developed, which will help people get to grips with crypto and investment.
McDonald says the two-hour game takes players on to an ‘‘actual trading floor’’ where there’s a simulation of ‘‘Queenstown’s first IPO (initial public offering)’’.
By the end, participants have learned all the basic concepts of investing ‘‘in a fun way’’.
Charalambides: ‘‘It’s something I wish I knew, or was taught, back in school, so that’s another great idea Richard’s had is to actually go into schools, colleges, universities and teach kids how to invest their money at an early age.’’
Dettmann says the diversification also fits well with No Trace Events’ client base, the demographic of which is young professionals, who’ve often moved here from overseas, and are looking to settle down and reach ‘‘financial independence’’.
Charalambides says in time, the No Trace team hope to mint their own crypto coin, which can be used for and at No Trace events, but could also become an investment for purchasers.
McDonald: ‘‘Hopefully it gives locals the opportunity not just to come along and enjoy the event, but invest in the whole No Trace story as well and benefit as the events unfold.’’
While New Zealand’s the first country in the world to allow someone to take their salary in bitcoin, No Trace is believed to be the first company to do it in Queenstown.
The process is ‘‘as simple as transferring into a different account’’, Charalambides says, with all the legislation and tax guide lines still adhered to.
And for McDonald, crypto can be transferred into different currencies in minutes with little, or no, fees.
That said, he predicts crypto will soon become an accepted payment form.
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