Inside ‘crypto village’ where pub staff are paid in virtual coins

WHILE many of us will be splurging in the January sales, these villagers won’t be splashing their cash on ‘frivolous’ items – they’d rather stash it away in virtual savings online.

As many as 60 people in Winchmore Hill, Amersham, are investing in cryptocurrency with the hope that it earns them a small fortune.

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Pub owner Peter (left), alongside Callum, Jacob and Lauren, have all invested in cryptocurrenciesCredit: Supplied
Jade Darby hopes to renovate horse stables with the money she could make from Koda

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Jade Darby hopes to renovate horse stables with the money she could make from KodaCredit: Peter Gilbert

Peter Gilbert, 46, who owns The Potters Arms pub, has advised many of them to put money into Koda, which he believes will help young and old get rich.

He was attracted to Koda because of the potential for “high-interest rates” that he claims will be better than the “crappy bank accounts that offer up to four per cent – if you’re lucky”.

Peter’s been giving each of his 25 to 30 members of staff ‘gifts’ in the cryptocurrency as a reward for their hard work, to incentivise them to stay and to offer youngsters a “nest egg” for the future.

He claims to have made “tens of thousands” through the online currency and is adamant the “future is crypto”.

But with all investments, there is a risk.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) explained in a statement to The Sun that they “regularly warn” people against “investing in crypto assets”.

Nonetheless, Peter’s adamant that Koda will continue to rise in value because he claims to have “very good form” with investments.

He told The Sun: “I can smell money from a mile away and this stinks of it more than anything I’ve experienced in my whole life. 

“I’m supremely confident this won’t go wrong and for the people who work for me, it’s a risk-free bet. I have massive faith that this will work.

“Some of my staff have four-figure sums in their little online wallets and half of my village – around 50 or 60 people – are on it too, some are even walking around wearing Koda jumpers.

“People are investing in me as much as they are in Koda, I’m really putting my head on the block here but this is how much I believe in it.”

How crypto works

Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency that works using the ‘blockchain’, which is a ledger that stores transactions and information about the currency. 

It allows users to make payments and store money without the need to use their real names or go through a bank.

The value of a cryptocurrency is based on supply and demand – which depends on how many coins are being made, referred to as mining, or how many owners want to sell.

The more useful a currency is considered – by having more users and more transactions with it – the more it is worth. Other factors including businesses accepting crypto can also increase the value too.

The big players include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin and Dodgecoin – but even their currencies’ values have fluctuated over time.

When Koda was launched in May the currency was worth $0.0000730 and this week, it was worth $0.00089977, according to CoinGecko. 

Like all cryptocurrencies, the value fluctuates by the day but at its peak, it was worth $0.00223939, which was a 2,967 per cent increase from its original value.

In October, Koda won the Most Trusted Cryptocurrency 2021 award at a Dubai expo for online currency experts and investors. 

‘Crypto is vital for hospitality’

Businessman Peter says he's really putting his 'head on the block' but believes in crypto's future

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Businessman Peter says he’s really putting his ‘head on the block’ but believes in crypto’s futureCredit: Supplied

Peter says rewarding people in cryptocurrency has been vital for keeping staff in the hospitality industry, which has suffered terribly during the pandemic.

He said: “I want my staff to feel appreciated, because they are, but as it stands we don’t have a lot of money to spare.

“I’ve been incentivising them with this gift each month if the pub is doing well and they don’t take a day off work.

“They don’t think about having the day off now even if they have been on a bender the night before, they are excited about coming in and it seems to be working.”

Currently, Peter ‘gifts’ his head chef £100, full-time staff £50 and part-time staff £25 in Koda to show his appreciation to them – and has paid out thousands.

While he admits they are only small sums currently, he believes they will be worth a lot more money in the future. 

I believe the risk to reward is worth a punt and it’s much better than them sp**king away their money or putting £50 on Chelsea or West Ham

Peter Gilbert

He admits he left school with no qualifications but has become a successful businessman – and now talks to others about investing in cryptocurrency.

He describes it as his way of “giving back” because he’s desperately concerned about youngsters being able to afford houses in the future.

Peter said: “I’m trying to do something that will change people’s lives and take the edge off so they don’t have to grind 12 hours a day. 

“I believe the risk to reward is worth a punt and it’s much better than them sp**king money away or putting £50 on Chelsea or West Ham.”

‘I wasted money on clothes – now I spend on crypto’

Peter, who owns The Potters Arms, gives up to 30 members of staff crypto gifts when the business is doing well

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Peter, who owns The Potters Arms, gives up to 30 members of staff crypto gifts when the business is doing wellCredit: Peter Gilbert

Lauren Michell, 19, invests small amounts every month and hopes the money she’s put in will “triple or quadruple” in the future.

She describes herself as being part of a “crypto family” because both of her brothers and parents are using Koda too.

The pub worker, who’s training to be a barber, didn’t understand cryptocurrencies before receiving some tips from her employer Peter.

She believes the gifts incentivise staff “to work even harder” because they feel appreciated and hopes to put the money towards something important.

Lauren told The Sun: “Cryptocurrencies will be important in the future because everything is online now and everywhere is going cashless.

“I feel like I have an upper-hand because I’ve invested in it now and have also noticed a change in how I spend my money.

“Before I used to waste £100 or £200 a month on clothes and shoes but it wasn’t necessary.

“Now I’m investing in my future and hope it will help me to buy a house, it feels good to be putting money into something good that will benefit me.”

‘Whole family uses crypto’

Student Callum Bray, 17, has around £2,000 in Koda and his whole family – mum, dad, nan and sister – all have money in it too.

After hearing about Koda around six months ago, he’s been spending “a lot of time reading and researching” to find out more.

He told The Sun: “I’m not really looking to cash out any time soon and it’s more of a long-term investment. 

“I hope to use the money to buy a new car in the future, depending on how successful the coin is.”

Callum, who works front of house at the pub, said he noticed his spending priorities have changed too.

Now, he puts more into the currency and less into his car modification project.

He said: “I found that I’m spending a lot less on the things I used to buy before but now I’m investing more in crypto. 

“I put more in my wallet every time I get paid as well as the gift Pete is putting in each time too.” 

‘Refurbishment is ultimate goal’

Jade Darby, 50, invested around £2,500 of her own money in Koda before joining the pub and now has in excess of £6,500 in the virtual currency.

She intends to leave her money in the online wallet in the hope it will grow into a life-changing sum and already “has plans” for how she will spend it.

“I am in the process of buying a property. We have stables where we keep horses and they need renovating,” Jade told the Mirror.

“My ultimate goal is to be able to refurbish them with this investment.”

Junior sous chef Jacob Bark, 22, hopes to amass “a nice little nest egg” to make his “life easier in the future”.

He’s put in £400 of his money as well as receiving gifts from Peter and believes “the results have proven themselves”.

The investor is hoping to save up enough money to buy a house and can’t wait until he’s earning “passive income”.

Jacob told The Sun: “The reason I tried Koda is that I want passive income, what could be better than going to bed and waking up with more money just by sleeping?

“I’m more positive about crypto since being involved as Pete has helped me look into blockchain and I know that the world is heading in that direction.”

Pest control pro to ‘crypto king’

James Gale is the founder of Koda, who works on the cryptocurrency as well as in his pest control business

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James Gale is the founder of Koda, who works on the cryptocurrency as well as in his pest control businessCredit: James Gale

James Gale founded Koda, which was launched seven months ago, and claims there are big plans for the cryptocurrency’s future. 

He claimed they had over £1million invested in the online currency in just a few days and expects it to exponentially grow next year. 

The 34-year-old, who manages one of the nation’s biggest pest control companies, says he is using his tech skills to make Koda more like an authentic business.

He told The Sun: “I had the dream of running a really swanky company that’s technologically advanced, all marketing and software development – and now I have that.”

James will be putting his name and face on the website, which is rarely done in the crypto world, along with other staff members in the hopes of being seen as “more accountable”.

He first invested in cryptocurrencies in 2018 and after “a few big successes” he decided to merge his skills and launch Koda.

In October, they won the Most Trusted Cryptocurrency 2021 award at the Crypto Expo, in Dubai, which was attended by more than 8,000 enthusiasts, exhibitors and investors.

But James’ journey with the online currency hasn’t always been easy and he claims to have been scammed twice and lost up to £10,000.

He said: “I started playing around with some of the smaller cryptocurrencies with higher risks and got burned time and time again but I also found how to make money at the same time.

“You can throw money in and lose it with one click of a button if you don’t know what you’re doing.

“Those mistakes taught me what not to do and to recognise that the space needed to be safer, so we’re working on a way to make it that way for others.

“My biggest piece of advice is to only put in an amount of money that you can afford to lose, like with anything. 

“I was losing more than I should have been at first but it taught me valuable lessons – if I could go back in time I would have saved myself a lot of stress.

“I know what the scammers do and the red flags to look out for with potential investments and am sharing that with the community, country and world.”

FCA warns against crypto

While the future of cryptocurrencies remains as murky as ever, the FCA does not appear optimistic and advises the public to avoid investing more than they can lose.

A spokesperson told The Sun: “The FCA regularly warns about investing in cryptoassets which generally involves taking very high risks with investors’ money. 

“If consumers invest in these types of product, they should be prepared to lose all their money and they are unlikely to have access to any redress or compensation schemes.” 

They claim to have seen UK consumers “increasingly targeted by crypto scammers” and advise anyone with concerns to check their website.

The spokesperson added: “We also advise consumers to check the new FCA Investsmart campaign and website that highlights the risks that exist when investing as well as the ScamSmart website on the risks of being scammed.”

James Gale was scammed twice using cryptocurrencies but claims it helped him to learn

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James Gale was scammed twice using cryptocurrencies but claims it helped him to learnCredit: Supplied
I used to get bullied in school, but I was self-made millionaire by 18 thanks to Cryptocurrency