Latin American Women See Crypto As a Space for Financial Freedom, Gender Equality

The ‘Mujeres en Crypto’ community wants to promote the participation of women in the space, and their leader tells Bloomberg Línea about the digital currency outlook in Latin America

Mujeres en Crypto
April 13, 2022 | 01:15 PM
Reading time: 6 min.

Bloomberg Línea — The ‘Women in Crypto’ (Mujeres en Crypto) community was born as a space for learning, education and networking among women in Latin America within Web3, and who are seeking to encourage a greater participation of women as leaders in the crypto space.

Web3, which the organization considers a promising environment, is a term coined by Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum (XET), and alludes to a less centralized and more open technology based on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, where users own their data and algorithms.

This female Latino community, which today consists of more than 1,200 Telegram users, seeks to take advantage of the crypto boom in the region to create a “new world” in which there is greater female participation, in order to set right something that “has been dragging on for years” in terms of gender inequality.

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“If we are not leaders in the ecosystem, we are going to let men decide for us for many years to come. It is the future, and if there are fewer women in it, we are going to be left behind and once again, men will be the ones leading the innovation.”

Nicole Connor, co-leader of the Mujeres en Crypto community

Among people planning to buy digital tokens for the first time globally toward 2023, 47% are women, while in today’s community, women in developing countries are leading the way, accounting for at least half the number of crypto asset owners, according to the latest report from Gemini, a U.S.-based crypto exchange led by the Winklevoss brothers.

“Some countries have seen much lower adoption by women compared to Latin America, although we are seeing that globally the gender gap is narrowing. Latin America, with high adoption rates and interest in crypto, may be a year ahead of this global trend,” according to Cynthia del Pozo, director of strategy and corporate development at Gemini.

Mujeres en Crypto was created last year in Argentina by CryptoChica, who works in the CryptoAvisos marketplace and in the DeFi Latam academy. But with a “full agenda”, she decided to hand over “the legacy” to Nicole Connor, also moderator of the Finanflix academy, and Cata Durán, who works in the education sector.

After a meeting prior to International Women’s Day on March 8 in Buenos Aires, and after “organic and fairly rapid growth” (in March the group had grown to around 800 members), “we said: ‘this has to continue. That women feel accompanied, with the freedom to learn, and to push them to reach positions with impact” in the industry, Connor says.

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Various reports published last year, by Pew Research Center, Gemini and others, concluded that white men are twice as likely, or more, to have used digital currencies, and place them as the average user of these technologies.

Thus, the Mujeres en Crypto’ community aspires to ensure that, “in the future, as soon as possible, these spaces will not be necessary”, as long as a balance is achieved and “we can be in a community with men, women and non-binary people”, Connor adds.

A client uses a cryptocurrency ATM in Barcelona.dfd

Financial Autonomy

In line with the female crypto enthusiasts, for Connor it is essential to talk about women being able to achieve “financial autonomy” through the crypto space.

“There are still women who don’t know how to handle themselves with regards to finances, because culturally we were not allowed to be interested in the economy or to know how to save or invest”

Nicole Connor

Connor, who is a young graduate in foreign trade, says that the decentralization of finance is an opening for women who want to leave behind situations of domestic violence, or where the household income continues to be managed by the man.

The idea therefore, she says, is to show that, with the help of Web3, “you can have control over money and be free. It’s good that everyone has the knowledge and can decide if they want to use it or not”.

In-person meeting in February 2022 in Buenos Aires.dfd

Failed Economy, Resilience and Crypto

La agrupación reúne a mujeres de Argentina con entusiastas de México, Perú, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela y España.

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Al hacer mención de exponentes como Cryptochica, Fiorescan, Pili y Lola, Hanna Schiuma y Camila Russo, Connor encuentra que Argentina y Venezuela son los países en América Latina donde despunta la presencia femenina.

“They are being very strong. I think you have to go to the places where the economy has been destroyed for a long time. It is probable that society is more involved there”.

Connor

The Gemini report states that trend of crypto enthusiasts is set to accelerate this year, precisely in countries that are experiencing sharp price hikes and the depreciation of their currencies. One of the reasons people are attracted to crypto is to find a way to hedge against inflation.

In the last decade, Latin American currencies have accumulated a depreciation against the dollar ranging from 13% in Peru to 99% in Argentina, excluding Venezuela, according to the ranking prepared by Bloomberg.

Due to the historical devaluation suffered by the Argentine peso, and the socioeconomic conditions, “for us it has become like normal (...) a long winter, we Argentines have a kind of chip that makes us resilient”, Connor says.

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She points out that this resilience leads to a search for new ways to “make my money have value, because the government won’t do anything about it”.

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“That’s pretty much what happened to me. I started working, earning money and I said: ‘but what am I doing with this, if next month it’s not going to be worth anything (...) From there I started researching, and that’s how I found crypto,” she says.

This is the reason why, in Argentina, “there are many entrepreneurs and great references such as the creators of Decentraland, OpenZeppelin and Proof of Humanity”, she adds.

At least 8% of Latin Americans have invested in crypto, according to the latest Americas Market Intelligence report, and Argentina is the leading country in the region with 12%, compared to 7% in Brazil, 6% in Mexico and 5% in Peru.

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For more than 59% of respondents in the region, crypto assets are the future of money.

‘Banks Don’t Want to Lost Control. They Want to Buy’

“Fear” was Connor’s response when asked about the resistance to crypto among financial institutions and authorities.

“Because they (big banks and investment funds) control the market, they can’t come out and say Bitcoin (XBT) is the best thing in the world because people keep listening to them.”

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“In 2018, JPMorgan (JPM) said Bitcoin was useless, and today they have funds in Bitcoin. They’re going to say yes one day and no the next, and they’re going to keep changing. Probably if they tell you it’s the worst thing, it’s because they want it to go down, to buy more,” she says.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., called bitcoin a fraud and unrealistic in 2017. Four years later, he admitted that many clients are looking to invest in the world's largest digital currency.dfd

“They also know that if we know how to use this technology well, it will give us freedom over them. Blockchain is going to take the work away from the banks probably in a few years, it is obvious that they do not want this because they will lose control.”.

Nicole Connor

The value of Bitcoin and crypto in general has fallen in recent weeks as the Federal Reserve began raising rates to combat persistent U.S. inflation, while geopolitical turmoil has dampened risk appetite. However, the massive stimulus with which the Fed flooded the markets during the Covid-19 outbreak drove Bitcoin to a record high of $69,000 in early November.

The digital currency bounced back above $40,000 on Tuesday, regaining some ground, but at the close of trading it had slipped 1.1% to $39,411.

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Noelle Acheson, head of market outlook at Genesis Global Trading, told Bloomberg that there are two big narratives at play: one as a risk asset, that’s going to move in tandem with other riskier assets, while another is that long-term investors are accumulating Bitcoin because they don’t see it as high-volatility, but as a store of value or a hedge against inflation.

Mujeres en Crypto will hold an event on April 23, featuring talks regarding the uncertainty surrounding the crypto space.

“I am not saying it will be for everyone,” Connor says. “But I do see a proud future. (...) An improvement if we can change the redistribution of wealth, and have a more leisurely life”.

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Carlos Rodríguez contributed to this article

Translated from the Spanish by Adam Critchley