Meet the pre-teen whose ‘bank balance’ is bigger than yours – a 12-year-old crypto expert whose NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have traded for more than $5million. Benyamin Ahmed learned to code from his dad when he was just five-year-old, and was instantly hooked.
But the bitcoin started rolling in last year when he released his own whale-themed collection of NFTs – one-of-a-kind digital artworks which can be bought and sold. His first sale of colourful pixelated whales sold out in hours and netted him £110,000 – a fortune which, combined with his other ventures, has risen to £750,000 in a matter of months.
The schoolboy doesn’t have a bank account though, and hasn’t withdrawn a single pound from his fortune. It’s all tied up in a cryptocurrency called Ethereum, which some argue could become worthless before investors even have time to withdraw. But Benjamin – who has lectured at Oxford University on NFTs – reckons it’s the future of currency, and he’s sitting on a huge future fortune.
The child genius plans to leave his fortune where it is for now because he said he’s simply only in the game to build his skills and experience. In total, his collection of NFTs has traded – gone on to be sold over and over by other people – for a total more than $5m. And the figure continues to rise as they become more and more popular.
Benyamin, from Pinner, in Greater London, said: “My friends at school know what I do and they have congratulated me. Although I don’t think everyone really understands it! But lots of people now know my story and it makes me happy to see lots of people are learning about NFTs because of me. I want to continue to introduce lots of people into the NFT space.”
Speaking of his passions which have now made him a million, Benyamin said he sees a “bright future” in the world of crypto and NFTs. He said: “I think with every industry, the digital versions of things always perform the best. With digital art it has a lot more utility and certification – I can just hop online and see where anything came from.”
He added: “Here, anyone can join the network – you can be a refugee or a rich person sat in your mansion and it doesn’t make a difference. Everyone has the same rights and permissions as anyone else.”
Benyamin and his brother Yusuf, 13, began learning coding from dad Imran, who works in programming, at just five years old. Benyamin and Yusuf’s mother, Meherin Ahmed, 40, is a primary school teacher – and while she doesn’t work in tech herself, Imran said she has been a “huge source of inspiration and support” to her sons.
Imran would task his sons with daily coding challenges as clever Benyamin became hooked with a keen interest in NFTs – as he got older. NFTs are unique digital assets which are bought and sold online in cryptocurrency – and their popularity has risen hugely in recent months.
They can be anything from artworks to collectible cards and GIFs and no two are identical – so it is possible to trace back exactly where they came from so you know it’s an original. Buyers have shelled out thousands, or even millions in the process – in the hopes they will one day be worth even more. But while adults struggle to understand their value, clever Benyamin jumped on the trend early.
And after buying and selling a few, he released his own series of NFTs called Weird Whales in July, 2021. The 3,350 different colourful NFTs featured pixelated whales, and were initially sold for $60 apiece. But as demand rose so did the price – with some of the collection selling for as much as $20,000 when the value was highest.
In total, his Weird Whales collection has now traded over $5m. He gets commission – like royalties – every time they are re-sold. He’s also made income from trading other peoples’ NFTs, and an increase in the value of Ethereum. And with that, Imran confirmed Benyamin is now worth $1million – around £750k. Around 70% of his fortune remains stored in a cryptocurrency called Ethereum, with the rest stored in NFT assets.
Imran said: “For Benyamin, it was never really about the money, it was about gaining knowledge – but of course the money is a bonus. He’s never actually cashed out any money so there is a risk that it could go to zero – however most analysts believe that not to be the case as it largely held in the blue chip cryptos, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“I always wanted my children to find something you enjoy doing and invest as much time in it as you can while you’re young. It’s fascinating to him and Benyamin is fortunate to be interested in this from such a young age.”
Brainy Benyamin plans to eventually convert his money from crypto to pounds and start his own business – although he doesn’t yet know what that will be. But for the time being, he’s content leaving his small fortune where it is – and helping others.
He said: “It’s made me really happy to see people my age hear about my story because they come into the space and try to understand it better. So many people have told me they started learning about NFTs because of me. Not everyone at my school fully gets it – not even some of the teachers – but my friends definitely know about it and they congratulate me.”
Benyamin’s days are jam-packed as he juggles school, his NFT collection and his other projects – but his passion means he is able to fit it all in.
He said: “As soon as I wake up, I go downstairs to check Twitter, Discord and the latest NFT and crypto news. I’m the first to wake up but my mum comes down later and then I have breakfast. I do not take my phone to school or to my bedroom so I get a lot of downtime.
“School is really good and I find it difficult to get bored – I enjoy Maths and computers obviously, but I also love history and Latin. After school, I usually spend a couple of hours doing homework, I then get back on Twitter and Discord to connect with the Weird Whales and NFT community.
“I have a daily routine where I complete one coding exercise, read a few pages and do an online Maths challenge. I have been doing this with my brother for some time now religiously. On Friday nights I go to Taekwondo, it’s always tough as it’s the end of the week but fun.”
On top of this, the hard-working youngster has a bright future with plenty of projects already in the works. He has already delivered a talk at Oxford University about the future of the NFT world. The lad is currently working alongside designers on a new range of NFTs called Non-Fungible Heroes which features comic book-style heroes, villains and gods.
The collection of 8,888 NFTs sold out in minutes when they went on sale in September last year – and they are looking to expand the franchise into comics and TV with his help. He is also working on a project called Work in Fintech co-founded by the former Head of Digital Products at Barclays, Ying Cao.
The project will see a collection of NFTs sold to corporate companies and the money from the sales will go towards internships and work opportunities to introduce young people to the industry. But despite his continuing successes Benyamin remains humble – and Imran grows more and more proud of him every day.
He said: “It’s what Benyamin does every day – it’s a passion for him. I always said if you do something you’re interested in, you’ll never work a day in your life. I am so glad he took that advice.”