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In the run up to Yellow Card Financial’s webinar on women in crypto, Olamikanra Oluwakemi explores why women are needed to solve more than just a diversity problem. Like most of the fintech space, the world of cryptocurrency is dominated by men.
According to a recent Triple-A study, only 21% of global crypto is women-owned. With over 300 million crypto users worldwide, it is easy to see the disparity. Also, as far as financial inclusion is concerned, women are in many ways a distinct minority. It would seem that money, in all its forms, manages to elude women in one way or another.
However, the good thing is that women are slowly but surely rising to become an essential cog in the wheels of operation that is the blockchain and crypto space. As reported by Fortune, an Australian bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange saw a 175% increase in women users last year, dwarfing the 80% increase in male users.
As more women join the crypto ecosystem, there is increased hope for the influence and, eventually, benefits that can be secured by women everywhere in the long run. There is a myriad of reasons to close the gender gap, allow for gender diversity and inclusion in finance and provide greater opportunities for women in the space.
A primary reason would be the simple fact that having women play key roles as regulators or industry leaders would likely shift the scale in the direction of balanced operations and interactions with crypto by both men and women. This balance would therefore result in more viable ways for women to create and gain access to financial freedom.
Crypto women taking up space
Two incredible women taking up space at the top of Yellow Card Financial’s leadership team are chief compliance officer Mandy Naidoo, and Alice Tomdio, chief financial officer. In their respective executive roles, they are among a small group of women paving the way for women in crypto despite gender bias and other challenges.
“The crypto space is quite an open space because it is such a dynamic area now with new-age thinking, that anybody can do anything. It’s not just gender-specific,” said Naidoo.
Since the crypto industry is quite an open space with new age thinking and perpetual innovation, there is an opportunity for everyone to do anything. This means that women, just as well as men, are free to explore as much as possible.
This may be why the issue of women’s inclusion has more to do with women taking the reigns as some other women have, than it has to do with men being the more favoured gender per society standards. Intentionality is crucial to achieving the level of inclusion that will facilitate a balance between genders in the crypto space.
Since women are said to be risk-averse, it is easy to assume that women are not interested in learning about or transacting with crypto at all. However, where finances are concerned, it is always a question of priority for women. Most women, especially in Africa, will put their family’s needs above theirs. This means that for women, learning about crypto doesn’t rank very high on the list of things to do with their finances.
“If we think about it, men generally don’t need to worry about a family,” added Naidoo. “They don’t need to worry about having kids so they can do what they want, so they would take more risks. But I think as women are coming more into their own and understanding themselves and their value and what they can add, they’re willing to take more risks.”
Consequently, women who are already active users and beneficiaries of crypto, in one form or another, need to do the hard work of educating and bringing more women into the fold. Theirs would be the essential function of converting the larger population of uninterested females into crypto enthusiasts and regular users.
This conversion will most likely occur successfully as it would be a typically ideal ‘women helping women’ movement. Conversely, there is nothing quite as motivating as seeing one of your own operating successfully in an area perceived to be extremely difficult to thrive.
“You can’t discount the influence that seeing someone that looks like you and feels like you and is reachable has on people’s decisions on whether to pursue something or not,” said Tomdio.
She adds that seeing black women partners when she started her career significantly affected her focus, carriage, and attitude towards work.
Beyond women actively taking steps to include each other in this global finance industry, regulators and industry leaders need to take concrete steps to ensure that the crypto space is as inclusive and diverse as possible. Regulation will help with levelling the playing field and stability in the infamously volatile crypto market. It will also help ensure that leaders deliberately drive for diversity in their internal teams.
Purposefully pushing for inclusion and diversity speaks to the more human side of the industry because giving everybody the opportunity to have access to crypto services goes way beyond gender. It is simply the right thing to do. Also, customers would naturally want to be associated with an organisation that represents them in some way.
While this push isn’t as easy as it sounds, it is grunt work that needs to be done if we are to see a future where financial inclusion isn’t only enjoyed by a smaller percentage of the global population. This means that individuals and organisations must consciously step out of their comfort zones and do what it takes to propagate financial access to as many people as possible.
“We all tend to go into our comfort zone… which tends to be people that look and feel like you. We all have to do the uncomfortable hard work of bringing more diversity into our teams and workplace. We as women have to do it, and males have to do it as well,” said Tomdio.
Ultimately, where the issue of women in crypto is concerned, it all boils down to how willing women are, as individuals, to delve into a space and an enterprise filled with endless possibilities. Perspective plays a crucial role in ensuring that crypto is not portrayed as some insurmountable wall of impossibility. Instead, it should be approached with open-mindedness and curiosity for learning.
- Yellow Card’s first Women in crypto event is on Wednesday, 24 August. It features leading women executives from across Africa speaking on the importance of positioning themselves for financial freedom, especially in this age of digital finance and technology.