A cryptocurrency expert from Co Down has said it’s still an “exciting time” for the industry despite it being plagued by controversies in 2022.

ewry man Johnny McCamley (24) is CEO of Lightening Exchange, a crypto-currency management company.

Cryptocurrency, or ‘crypto’, is the term used for a collection of different kinds of digital funds operated through a computer system.

He specialises in Bitcoin, a digital payment network set up in 2009, and claims to have made millions through his investments in it and NFTs (non-fungible tokens, i.e virtual pieces of art).

He is a member of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, an exclusive group that counts celebrities such as Madonna, Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber and Eminem among its number.

It’s only open to those who purchase a specific NFT of a cartoon gorilla for around $500,000.

“I first got into crypto in 2015 after my cousin, who was investing, introduced me to it,” he explained.

“It was actually around Christmas, he told me about an ATM in Belfast which allowed people to invest in Bitcoin.

“At first I just thought it was all nuts, just ‘internet money’.

“But I ended up buying some, and I kind of got hooked, buying more and more because it kept going up.”

It was a habit that led to a career and he now runs multiple crypto investment companies across the world.

He insists it’s still an exciting time for anyone interested in the industry, even though it doesn’t have the best of reputations at the minute.

The price of Bitcoin dropped below $16,000 in November, a year after reaching a record high of $69,000. It’s currently worth just over $13,500.

As a result of the crash, Reuters described 2022 as “the year Bitcoin broke”.

Also in November, billionaire crypto guru Sam Bankman-Fried joined other controversial tech figures such as Elizabeth Holmes, founder of fraudulent medical company Theranos, and WeWork’s Adam Neumann, in a dramatic fall from grace.

His wealth, estimated at around $10bn, disappeared amid accusations of mismanagement at his company, FTX.

He is currently facing extradition to the US from the Bahamas on criminal charges.

McCamley said: “This is just history repeating itself.

“It’s happened before with other companies. FTX won’t be the last for this to happen to.

“It’s like anything. Crypto goes in peaks.

“It’s very sad to read about all the people that have lost their money, though. People get into crypto because it can help them out.”

But alluding to a common belief that if the market falls, tech advances are made to improve it, which will eventually add value to virtual currency, he added: “The money is made when the markets are made — when things are down in the dumps. It’s an exciting time.”

While he accepts the world of crypto is always going to be seen as something “which is not in front of people”, he compares criticism of the industry to similar scepticism of the internet when it first launched.

He said: “No one can imagine their life without the internet now.

“But it’s the exact same with crypto.

“We’ll be sending money in the future this way.”