Former London gang members, Sam and Steve Nico Williams, are now worth £41million after launching their own cryptocurrency just last year.
The 38-year-old identical twins born to Nigerian parents in Brockley, south-east London, have revealed how they turned their lives around, moved into finance and made their fortune.
Last year Steve launched the cryptocurrency, Populous (PPT) which is the 52nd most valuable cryptocurrency token in the world, worth £96.5million.
Populous is an invoice discounting platform that helps small and medium-sized businesses with cash flow problems to raise finance against invoices from the crypto community.
Their other investments include a stake in the Michelin-starred Restaurant Story in London Bridge, and a London estate agency chain.
The brothers are friends with a string of celebrities including rapper 50 Cent and former world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather.
Steve, the older brother by one minute, said: “I have always been fascinated with the world of finance. We have gone through a lot together as brothers and it is great that all our hard work has paid off.”
Sam and Steve both attended Crofton Comprehensive in Lewisham, now renamed Prendergast Ladywell School, where 22 per cent of pupils get free school meals and exam passes are well below the national average.
Their mother, a chef, and their father, an accountant, moved to the UK from Nigeria and worked long hours to provide for their sons.
But Steve fell into the wrong crowd for a while, and 12 years ago was convicted of obtaining money by deception.
He said: “It was a major wake-up call and I had plenty of time to think about what I was going to do with my life. I made a big mistake and I paid for it.
“I knew I had to turn my life around and work hard to achieve a good life for me and my family. I also want to give back by helping youths on the streets and those involved in street crime and I hope to inspire and create positive opportunities for them.”
Steve, described as ‘the brains’ behind Populous, is a commercial data expert and studied a GNVQ in Advanced Business at Crofton Comprehensive School in Lewisham.
Sam excelled at computer programming at the same school’s sixth form.
After leaving school, the brothers started various businesses such as Tramp, a lifestyle and concierge magazine, and researched financial markets and data, before they decided to move into the lucrative world of cryptocurrency.
They worked solidly for four years to build the blockchain code for their tokens on their mum’s kitchen table in Brockley and were shocked by the huge success when Steve put the Populous (PPT) token on the market in June 2017.
They originally thought it might raise a few thousand pounds, but 24 hours later they had assets worth £1.85million in Ethereum digital currency.
Sam said: “The success Populous has exceeded all expectations – we thought it would do well but this has been phenomenal.
“We had been involved on the fringes of gangs as teenagers when we were growing up in South London – but it’s fair to say that our lifestyles have changed completely in the past year.”
The brothers have released 37million PPT tokens to have funds to develop the coin further and retained 16 million PPT tokens which are currently trading at $3.42 which makes their current net worth £41.76 million, according to the CoinMarketCap table of the world’s leading cryptocurrencies.
The value of cryptocurrencies changes daily, but all of Populous’ early investors have made a fortune.
At the peak of the crypto market back in March 2018, the brothers were worth up to £1billion when the coin peaked at $68.91 but there has been a steep market change downwards since then.
Even now, with the market at its lowest ebb, they are still sitting on a fortune worth tens of millions.
Sam has now launched two crypto tokens, Zloadr, a due diligence token which can assess the profitability and liquidity of businesses, and DocTailor, a token for legal professionals to offer their services to the tech community.
Steve has launched a new business intelligence token ‘PXT’ alongside his latest venture, Populous World’s XBRL platform.
The Williams brothers’ business operations are located in Mayfair’s exclusive Berkeley Square they also own a stake in Tom Sellers’ critically acclaimed Michelin-starred Restaurant Story in London – famous for its 10-course set menu.
Speculation in cryptocurrencies has shot up in the past 18 months and the biggest and best known currency, Bitcoin, reached a value of $20,000 earlier this year, though it has since slumped back to just over $6,400.
Major banks are now getting involved in trading cryptocurrencies and Goldman Sachs launched a Crypto trading desk in May this year to capitalise on the huge growth of this market.
The Williams brothers are not the only identical twins who have made it big in cryptocurrencies.
American investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, whose story was featured in the movie The Social Network, have been hailed as the world’s first bitcoin billionaires.
When the twins were awarded $65 million in cash and Facebook stock after a lengthy legal dispute with Mark Zuckerberg, they used their windfall to back Bitcoin and the decision paid off.
At the start of this year, their holding was worth more than $1 billion.