Thank You to the ‘Hidden Women of Crypto'
In a year with plenty of negative news, it’s been an absolute joy to be on the judging panel for a celebration of something very positive. Earlier this year - Wirex, a leading payments company, in partnership with The Fintech Times launched the 2020 ‘Rising Women in Crypto Power List’, as part of Wirex's inaugural 'Women in Crypto' campaign.
Wirex and The Fintech Times called on women driving the future of digital currencies, inviting them to nominate themselves and others who they believe are making a difference in the space. Being a stereotypically male-dominated industry, Wirex’s goal was to shine a light on exceptional women and to inspire others with the confidence to get involved in a flourishing sector.
We received an overwhelming response. The contest was open for six weeks and we saw an amazing 367 entries flooding in! Throughout the process, there were also content campaigns with contributions from influencers such as George Coxon, COO at the Nano Foundation, Erica Stanford, Founder of the Crypto Curry Club, and Ashley Koh, COO at Spark Systems.
Now, we’ve chosen the ten most inspirational women at the forefront of the crypto industry, who we believe are doing important work advancing the world of crypto.
I wanted to participate in this campaign because I believe it’s hugely important. In fact, I’ve been advocating for women’s involvement in the fintech and crypto spaces for years. I’ve been honoured to have been called a spearhead in the sector, showing that women can be revered in senior, influential positions in fintech and crypto.
When it comes to what excites me about fintech, it’s the ability to reshape our business and social lives, create new players and infrastructures and transform the concept of sovereignty itself. And I think it’s incredibly important to celebrate women’s achievements in the industry.
With women making up half of the world’s working-age population, they should play a key role in shaping the future of money and investment – which crypto represents. If today’s cryptocurrencies are anything like the pioneering days of the Internet, it’s absolutely imperative that women become more involved.
However, right now there is a $300 billion annual credit deficit in funding for women-owned small businesses - and this is only set to increase due to the repercussions of COVID-19. When it comes to nurturing gender equality in the sector, we need to do better: a LendIt survey found that only 37% of fintech workers are women, and just 19% are at C-suite level.
Role models play a huge part in this shift and there are plenty of talented women whose efforts and achievements need to be recognised and celebrated, so that we can showcase their influence in the world of digital currencies.
I’m pleased to say that there were some incredible women that made it onto the Power List.
One was Noelle Acheson, Director of Research, CoinDesk. Acheson researches, analyses and publishes a "Crypto Long and Short" newsletter every Sunday, where she shares her knowledge and insights with tens of thousands of readers.
While many such readers are professional investors, Acheson has gained attention for simplifying the often complex world of crypto and its developments for those curious to learn, inviting everyone into the crypto space. I believe this is hugely important as it makes the world of crypto more accessible to those who might be curious to learn but too shy to ask.
Another woman that impressed me was Simone Maini, Chief Executive Officer of Elliptic. She leads this blockchain analysis company to support the safe market adoption of cryptocurrency assets.
In her endeavour to widen access to cryptocurrency, she leads and drives the London-based company to protect businesses from financial crime in the space, manage risk and meet regulatory compliance worldwide. Her role at Elliptic gives businesses the confidence to trust the digital economy and benefit from its advantages.
Another inspiring winner was Inbal Polak. Polak is one of the few women working in the digital assets hedge fund space, and is a champion of getting more women into venture capital roles.
As Director of Fund for Digital Assets at London-based YRD Capital, a global fund for digital assets, she is a pioneer in her own right by leading YRD Capital to become the first Fund of Funds in the world to focus solely on quantitative strategies in crypto assets.
Polak and I are similar in that she’s also passionate about getting more women to invest in alternative assets like cryptocurrencies. When venture capitalists claimed they couldn’t find female investors, she started NEOME - The Women Investing Club based in Israel, for which she is the Co-Founder and CIO, in order to raise the profile of women in the space and change the investment industry’s attitude.
These are just a few of the women who we got to read about and celebrate in the process, and it has only reminded me of the impact that initiatives and campaigns such as this have.
In fact, the reason why I was one of the biggest supporters of our campaign and the first to join the judging panel is because I’ve experienced the benefits of these initiatives. I’ve been on the other side of a Power List like this, having been selected as a Fintech Global 50 Influencer myself.
I have a lot of experience in the field, and I’m proud of that. But I also know that networks are a crucial element of leveraging and expanding industry experience, and initiatives and campaigns like this help with that. They spotlight the incredible amount of female talent there is in the sector and they introduce women leaders in the space to others like them.
These initiatives are recognition that progress is being made in crypto, and we do know that women are steadily becoming more interested in this new asset class. In 2017, we saw that a mere 5% to 7% of all cryptocurrency users were women.
Two years later, Bitcoin fund operator Grayscale revealed that 43% of survey respondents that were interested in bitcoin investments were women and there are some countries (like India) where women make up the majority of crypto investors.
This is being reflected in the workforce too. I’ve been pleased to see a significant increase in women staff in key crypto firms like Coinbase, Binance and Banco - the latter two being established by women with a workforce that is now 40-50% female!
It is therefore incredibly important that we keep encouraging and celebrating women who are not only pioneers in the space, but are also examples of leadership in action. I wanted to thank the Wirex and The Fintech Times teams for creating this initiative and for inviting me to be part of it. It’s truly been an honour. Congratulations to our Top Women in Crypto!
Written by Ruth Wandhöfer. Global Fintech 50 Influencer