“For most of history, Anonymous was a women.”
Author Virginia Woolf likely never imagined concepts like Twitter or bitcoin, but that’s exactly whose words were used to promote Bitcoin Women’s Day last week. Woolf’s famous words anchored a social media campaign last week (March 8) aimed at highlighting exactly what it suggests: bitcoin usage and women.
Reports suggest that only 5 percent of those involved in the digital currency community are women. But of course, like some of the elements of the cryptocurrency itself, that figure may be hard to really know. What makes it harder to track is the fact that bitcoin — still very much in its infancy — remains a small community, members of which aren’t always outwardly vocal about their investment or affinity for the digital currency.
But there’s a new cause being sprouted from one active woman in the bitcoin community — Sarah Martin, who recently took her love for bitcoin and tied it into an already established holiday (International Women’s Day) to create the first Bitcoin Women’s Day event.
The mission of the day was simple: highlight women and bitcoin, and the achievements of both. The outreach, however, far surpassed her expectations for a mission she cobbled together just weeks before the online event launched. And when the hashtag #BitcoinWomensDay was combined with International Women’s Day’s mission, #MakeItHappen, the concept began to unfold online. Sure, Bitcoin Women’s Day didn’t go viral or start trending, but it did create a small buzz highlighting some of the good bitcoin has done — particularly for women.
For example, a shout-out was shared via Twitter to the BitGive Foundation for its initiative to use bitcoin to bring clean water to women in emerging regions. That’s just a bit of the support for the digital currency that was shared. It also highlighted the enthusiasm that exists in the bitcoin community, despite all the negative press often flooding the headlines about the digital currency.
“Bitcoin is a small sector but it’s growing so much that it’s not just tech anymore,” Martin said. “It is now lawyers involved in bitcoin [and] financial people involved in bitcoin, and so we wanted to hear everybody’s perspective of who they are in bitcoin and what they are doing.”
Talking about women in tech and women in bitcoin, she said, can often be a “hot-button topic,” but from the responses she saw from Women’s Bitcoin Day, she’s seeing support for all the leaders in the bitcoin ecosystem. And as the positive rhetoric around bitcoin gets shared, she hopes that will change people’s perception about it entirely.
“One thing we need to think about, just as a community at large is growing ourselves, is growing into the mainstream,” Martin said. “Women in technology is also small. But I don’t think we need to consider that a hinderance. I think we just need to continue to move forward. My intention of Bitcoin Women’s Day was to use it as a vehicle to talk to more people.”
This included using the day to draw attention toward the Digital Currency Council, which Martin said generates half of its site traffic from women. Because the council focuses on reaching more than just the technology sector, she thinks that has helped attract more women to the council. Digital currency and bitcoin is a growing phenomenon, Martin said, and it’s one she thinks more professionals should pay attention toward.
“This is not just a niche, nerdy technology, of course it’s nerdy, but I see it more as a huge market opportunity,” she said. “The market is opening up and there is going to be a wealth of job opportunities here. So if you are a smart professional lady, or man, you want to get on this boat. Because it is moving really rapidly, no matter what your gender is, because this is a professional opportunity.”
Calling bitcoin the “Lance Romance of the digital economy,” Martin said, from the response she’s received, those who get involved in bitcoin get into it because of their fascination with the technology behind it — like the technology of the blockchain, the true drive behind the bitcoin.
“Yes, there have been significant bumps in the road, but these are early days and we need to both own them, and say we have encountered them, but are weathering these storms,” Martin said. “There is room for a myriad of professionals — driving the technology, talking to the mainstream, building the businesses, the startups, the entrepreneurs. I see a host of people in this space.”
That also means having “less news about jail [and] less news about drugs,” would help boost its image, Martin said. The positives behind the digital currency will be what she believes will deliver bitcoin into mainstream adoption. This also means working with regulators, and not against them, to help everyone better understand the technology, she said.
“[Regulation] can be positive if can be if we coordinate properly with local governments. Local governments just want to know what’s going on. They are overloaded with the amount of material with issues they need to regulate and be on top of, and be responsible to their tax payers for. All they really know about bitcoin is what they read in the headlines…and as you know the headlines are not great,” Martin said.
“We need to bring them on as partners, rather than adversaries,” she added.
Bitcoin Tracker | Week 65
San Francisco-based 21 Inc. announced it raised, over a series of rounds, $116 million to turn the tech that underlies bitcoin into a mass marketable commodity. Instead of using bitcoin as a currency, 21 Inc. is focused on related but different uses for the blockchain – including lawyer-free smart contracts or tamper-proof online voting systems. Bitcoin also made some new friends this week.
But bitcoin also had some negative press, like another leader of a bitcoin-related company forced to pay up in court.
Bitcoin is trading near the same from last week’s price of $272.56 and is at $272.22 according to the PYMNTS.com Bitcoin Price index.
As always, if you have any news you’d like to share, please send it our way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Plus Side …
The bitcoin community snagged a Wall-Street banker. According to The New York Times, Blythe Masters, the former head of JPMorgan’s giant commodities unit, has landed herself a job at the bitcoin-related startup, Digital Asset Holdings. The company uses bitcoin’s technology to help streamline financial transactions, according to the Times. Looks like the blockchain technology is getting some more positive press.
- March 9, 2105: Utah is eyeing a bill to accept bitcoin as a currency for state services passes.
- March 9, 2015: BTCPoint and Banc Sabadell (a Spanish national bank) partnered, making it so bitcoin users can withdraw bitcoin from 10,000 ATMs.
- March 10, 2015: The Winklevoss twins praised bitcoin — again. Tyler Winklevoss said bitcoin is like a “child taking its first steps,” but said the currency will win the race, someday.
- March, 10, 2015: Bitcoin startup 21 Inc. snagged $112 million to help bitcoin go mainstream.
- March 10, 2015: BitPesa is helping migrant African workers send money home cheaper and faster using bitcoin.
- March 11, 2015: Bitcoin got a new friend in Poland, and it’s T-Mobile, which announced it will accept bitcoin to buy phone credits (at least in Poland).
- March 11, 2015: Bitcoin joined the Web lobby as it was reported that a bitcoin servicer joined the Internet Association (Members include Facebook, Google and Yahoo).
- March 12, 2015: With more Wall-Street backing, Coinbase has added FIX protocol support in order to it to be better managed by professional traders.
- March 12, 2015: Apparently, China loves bitcoin, as it was reported by data from Goldman Sachs that 80 percent of bitcoin volume is driven from Chinese yuan.
On the Dark Side …
Well, good and bad news. The Good: Bter — a Chinese-based bitcoin exchange — said it plans to continue to operate. The bad? It still owes its users $1.75 million that it lost in a massive cyberattack. The company said it was able to track the digital currency using a bitcoin mixer, but there’s no word on when the cryptocurrency will actually make its way back or when those users will get their bitcoin back.
- March 10, 2015: The bitcoins in the Silk Road case finally have new homes. Three new homes, in fact, as the illegally traded bitcoins finally were bought legally.
- March 11, 2015: A Springfield, Missouri, man was ordered to pay $30,000 in fines for civil penalties stemming from his leadership of two bitcoin-related companies.
- March 12, 2015: Coindesk created a “deal section” on its site. The only problem? It doesn’t support bitcoin payments.
- March 12, 2015: Remember when Bitreserve’s CEO Halsey Minor compared bitcoin to the long-forgotten Web browser Netscape? Well, the controversy made its way back into the news.
- March 12, 2015: A California lawmaker introduced a bill that would ban unlicensed bitcoin businesses.
- March 12, 2015: IBM may become bitcoin’s newest competitor as its looking to use the technology behind bitcoin — the blockchain — to develop its own digital currency.
- March 12, 2015: Bitcoin mining pools are under fire after being the victims of DDOS attacks.