Staring at charts: people becoming addicted to crypto trading

By Bao Lam   July 10, 2022 | 05:00 am PT
Staring at charts: people becoming addicted to crypto trading
An investor looks at a token's cryptocurrency prices on a smartphone. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy
Vu Nguyen has not been getting sufficient sleep for the past month: She wakes up at 3 a.m. and opens the trading app to check the prices of tokens.

"I've been trading cryptocurrencies for two years," the 29-year-old says.

"Previously I only bought a few coins and barely make any transactions. But I've been having nightmares ever since I started dabbling in futures."

Futures are an agreement between two parties to buy and sell a specific amount of underlying crypto at a specific future value.

It is available on many trading apps such as Binance and MEXC.

Nguyen admits that now she opens the app frequently and spends a lot time researching coins she plans to invest in.

She had lost nearly five kilograms in a month due to lack of sleep and could not fully concentrate at her regular job.

Meanwhile, her account gets margin calls, which occur when a portfolio value falls below a certain level and an investor has to replenish the account with additional capital or securities.

Though not investing in futures like Nguyen, Hoang Phuoc of the southern Tay Ninh Province spends hours in front of the computer studying the rise and fall patterns of cryptocurrency prices.

He says: "Each time I trade, I can make 10-20 percent profit. But to do so, I have to devote all my attention to crypto and nothing else.

"I check the app several times an hour; my mind is constantly on it."

He quit his job at a technology firm in Ho Chi Minh City at the end of April to devote more time to cryptocurrencies.

On social media groups, many people admit to being addicted to cryptocurrency trading.

Many people invest in futures or trend surf like Phuoc to capitalize on the volatility in crypto prices.

According to Hoang Viet, a blockchain expert in HCMC, future trading on cryptocurrency exchanges is no different from gambling.

U.S.-based therapist Aaron Sternlicht was quoted as saying by the Washington Post newspaper in April that cryptocurrencies are more addictive than traditional sports betting, gambling and financial investments.

"Crypto can be traded around-the-clock, unlike most stocks. People don’t need to drive to a casino to invest in a coin."

Crypto addiction is not currently recognized as a gambling disorder. But many mental health experts say the cryptocurrency boom is sparking a rise in addiction.

Lia Nower, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the U.S., told Newsweek magazine about a soon-to-be-released study involving a representative New Jersey sample of 372 individuals who trade crypto, of whom around 38 percent are deemed to be high-risk, problem gamblers also gambling on other things.

"In our studies, we have found significantly more people trading crypto than five years ago.

"Excessive cryptocurrency trading can be a form of gambling," she said.

Nguyen says she "deleted the app" a week after her manager chastised her for declining work efficiency.

She spent the remaining money in her crypto wallet to buy a token to her liking and has stopped caring about its price.

"I'm going to find a new hobby and try to forget crypto for the moment."

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