When it comes to tech, diversity is not just desirable – it’s essential. Take Artificial Intelligence. Evidence of racism and sexism in AI products is abundant, and exists purely as a result of machines learning from an unrepresentative pool of human role models.
Thankfully, the pool is widening. Tech – along with finance and other typically homogenous industries – is beginning to welcome people from all walks of life. And the crypto space is no exception.
Since its origins just over a decade ago, the industry has generally been considered a man’s world. But times are changing. Recent reports show that more and more women are getting involved in crypto – both as employees and consumers.
The more women who occupy positions of prominence – or indeed, play any part – in these industries, the more likely others are to follow suit.
The women of Wirex all have very different stories, and each got to where they are today from wildly different journeys. But they’ve got one thing in common: someone along the way inspired them to take the path less travelled. We asked them who it was that made an impression.
Caterina Ferrara by Francesca Cintura, CRM Manager
Joining the team at Wirex has led me to develop a growing interest in the involvement of women within the cryptocurrency and trading field. The blockchain and crypto sector is known for being predominantly male-dominated, and this is partly true. However, in recent years, as blockchain has become more and more mainstream, the field has seen increased contributions by women as well.
One rising woman in crypto I came across is Caterina Ferrara, a Blockchain Business Consultant with extensive experience as a Technology Communication Officer and Community Manager. She has been featured across many journals, including Forbes in 2018, where she came in 23rd place among 100 Founders in Europe to follow on social media.
Caterina is the founder of Blockchain Ladies, a virtual, international community connecting women involved in digital technologies across the world. Her work and dedication to building a community of women in the crypto sphere is inspirational on many different levels. Not only does she actively promote the female presence in the crypto sector, she gives them the power and tools to collaborate and make a difference, by creating a virtual platform to connect and bring blockchain to different avenues. Blockchain Ladies offers intelligent, capable women across the globe the opportunity to enhance their skills as professionals in the finance and trading fields. It empowers women to think outside the box and inspire each other, as they promote blockchain technology as an incredible tool to live in a fairer, more transparent world.
Caterina’s story and continued motivation to make a real difference to the industry inspired confidence in me as a woman who only recently joined the crypto space. It can be daunting at times to challenge the status quo and think outside the box, but it becomes a little easier when a strong community of women works together to make it happen. This has helped me reflect on the importance of taking an active part in initiatives like Women in Crypto here at Wirex, and has given me greater belief in my own skills.
The motto of Blockchain Ladies is “It’s not about money, it’s about values”, which means that the real power of Blockchain is not money but the values that underlie it: transparency, efficiency, fairness. Caterina Ferrara, Lattice80, 30th May 2019.
Laura Shin by Sophie Morris, Copywriter
As someone who spends her days writing about all things blockchain and crypto, I can’t help but take inspiration from those in the same position. In an industry still in its infancy in the scheme of things, everyone is learning from each other.
Someone I stumbled across during my research, who particularly stood out to me, is Laura Shin – the first mainstream journalist to cover crypto full-time when she worked as Forbes’ senior editor.
Her writing – about innovation and financial freedom – is, unsurprisingly, captivating and informative, but her 2018 TEDx talk is what really drew me in. She tells us that “disruption is coming” – in the form of a new, leaderless business model centred around crypto, which could eventually lead to more people being their own boss.
It was Laura’s clear explanation of a future parallel financial system built on blockchain technology, which kickstarted my curiosity towards the concept of DeFi and the use-cases for blockchain other than merely powering bitcoin.
Imagine a world where as long as you have the internet, you have the same opportunities as everyone else. You are the worker, owner and shareholder of everything you produce. You get paid instantly without any third-party involvement or margin for error. Doesn’t it make you think?
Michelle Phan by Fadzhana Manaf, APAC Brand Activation Manager
With the ubiquity of cryptocurrency in today’s society, it’s not surprising that social media is one of the major platforms acting as a springboard for a myriad of discussions on the topic. Whilst the shift from traditional currency to digital currency is steadily being accepted in communities – and increasingly, in industries – there is still much more to understand on the topic of crypto. With a growing personal interest in fintech and crypto akin to the cryptocurrency boom, I sought out sources to help me further understand its volatile yet rewarding nature.
Michelle Phan, a known advocate for Bitcoin and labelled the ‘Beauty of Bitcoin’, inspired my curiosity in the crypto industry. Initially a mogul of the beauty empire, she was able to adapt resiliently, pulling herself out of the cosmetic market crash of recent times and instead investing in a market not many have ventured. From gold to Bitcoin – her successful investments slowly garnered attention, along with her impressive ability to read the market.
As a lover of decentralization and also Youtube’s biggest beauty star, Phan draws parallels between YouTube and Bitcoin: “YouTube is decentralized, in the sense that anyone can have a channel, have their own network, and make their own content.” In the same way, Bitcoin isn’t truly owned by anyone. She says, “It’s not run by any higher authority or power. It’s not a company. There are no board members. For the first time in history, you can be your own bank. We’ve never had that before.” Wouldn’t this be the prime time to get started and have skin in the game?
Angel Rich by Jenny Kong, Head of Social
Truthfully, I didn’t even really know how taxes worked until my early to mid-twenties. Or generational wealth. Or what stocks were. Being involved in the fintech industry, knowing how many doors it could open, I wish I had known all of this a lot earlier. I’m also very aware that many young women are still not privy to this level of financial education.
Enter Angel Rich. She founded and developed the app, Credit Stacker, which teaches students about personal finance, credit management and entrepreneurship through gamification. IB Times describes the game as, “kind of like a combination of the board game Life and the Candy Crush app, except the underlying goal is learning about taxes, credit management, real estate, investing and budgeting.”
What I really like about it is just how accessible it is. You learn about investments and car financing through quizzes and little challenges. It makes finance planning fun (and that’s generally considered an oxymoron). It’s also apparently much needed in this climate – the app had 200,000 downloads in its first two weeks. Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House team deemed the app the ‘best financial literacy product in the country’. Forbes magazine dubbed Angel ‘the next Steve Jobs’.
“Our mission is to provide equal access to quality financial education all across the world,” Rich said in a 2015 interview with business website 1175, “We feel as though anyone who has a dime in their pockets should also have financial literacy to go along with it.”
Jinglan Wang by Ali Paras, Community Manager
It’s no secret amongst my peers at Wirex that I love educating myself about the world of blockchain and how companies are trying to solve real-world issues with the use of said technology.
I got started in crypto in 2017 with a ‘full steam ahead’ tenacity and came to join Wirex a few months later as the Community Manager. It’s a role that carries a number of responsibilities, one of which is creating educational and informative content, as well as building a thriving semi-autonomous community. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I took a keen interest in Jinglan Wang. Not just because of my role’s responsibilities, but I was equally enthralled by the endeavours and strides that this powerhouse has, and is, taking in the blockchain industry.
Jinglan Wang, who first started her crypto adventure in the MIT Bitcoin club, has gone on to become a Blockchain Product Manager at NASDAQ and notably, one of the co-founders of the Blockchain Education Network (BEN). It was created to bring students and alumni together from all over the world to educate, nurture and flourish in the blockchain space.
In a 2018 Forbes article, Wang stated, “The goal is two-pronged for us: the first is to learn, develop, and evangelize blockchain technology. The second is to build strong flourishing communities.” They do this by, “promoting technological literacy with decentralised technologies”. In a nutshell its distributed impact reaches 2,350+ students and alumni, across 500+ universities, as well as supports and mentors 80+ blockchain clubs, across 10+ countries. Those who participate gain access to a vast network of like-minded individuals who share an affinity for blockchain technology; the majority of whom have created lasting friendships, and most interestingly, have gone on to find their co-founders, helping to make their startup dreams a reality.
Wang is now in the process of focusing her attention on another project, the aptly named Optimism (originally Plasma Group), of which she is the CEO. Its main goal is to create a tangible solution, via research and an alpha testing environment called Optimistic Virtual Machine (OVM), to Ethereum’s scalability quandary.
Without doubt, Jinglan Wang is a formidable force in this industry, and I’ll be avidly watching her progression from the sidelines.
Alice Hlidkova by Isabel Wozencroft, CRM Executive
It’s easy to remember the reaction of my friends and family after telling them I got a marketing job in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space:
Cryptocurrency? Blockchain? That sounds complicated, can you tell me more?
Immediately, it was evident that there was a disconnect – people felt like these topics were hard to approach and understand.
Working in CRM, my job is to guide customers through using our platform after they sign up, ultimately hoping they stay engaged with our brand. To achieve this, we have to debunk this stereotype and present cryptocurrency as something approachable, easy to digest, and relevant. Something human.
Alice Hlidkova is the founder of Through the Changing Glass, LLC – a creative agency and business consultancy that aims to solve communication, marketing and business challenges, with a special focus on cryptocurrencies and blockchain education and integration.
Her accomplishments only begin there. Others include managing an educational blog at a leading online blockchain publication with 2,000 + female members, and being a blockchain consultant for the medtech blockchain company, DigiPharm. DigiPharm utilises blockchain technology to provide the world’s first value-based healthcare platform – a healthcare delivery model in which hospitals and physicians are paid based on patient health outcomes.
While watching one of her YouTube videos, one line in particular stuck with me: “blockchain and cryptocurrency is something we cannot feel or touch, so it’s really important to humanise the industry”.
At Wirex, whether we’re highlighting the mission of the cryptocurrency Stellar to bank the unbanked and create a more equal world, or personifying each of our cryptocurrencies in a fun spin for the customer to ‘find their perfect crypto match’, we’re always looking for ways to make the cryptocurrency experience more relevant, relatable, and human. It’s only then can we become closer to our mission of making cryptocurrency ‘open to all’.