How Crypto Can Help Women of Color Catch Up and Build Wealth

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In this special edition of “The Financially Savvy Female,” guest columnist Ramona Ortega, founder of WealthBuild.ai, a smart financial chatbot, shares how cryptocurrency can be an invaluable asset to women of color, who have fallen behind financially due to both the gender and racial pay gaps.

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Over the last three years, the explosion of bitcoin, blockchain and NFTs have made crypto an attractive asset class. The numbers speak for themselves — according to Finbold, bitcoin’s return on investment over the past five years has outperformed five leading banks’ stocks by 4,214% on average. Bitcoin is up 140 times its price from five years ago, which is about 14,000% growth.

The dramatic rate of return on bitcoin has led to the creation of many derivative cryptocurrency-related products, including bitcoin futures, bitcoin ETFs, NFTs and crypto savings accounts, to name a few.  The exponential returns of early bitcoin investors might not be replicated with the new coins, but crypto continues to hold exponential opportunities for growth.

How Crypto Helps Women of Color Catch Up

While crypto continues to be a  volatile and risky investment, the widespread adoption of blockchain and stablecoins has solidified crypto as a permanent asset class and an important one for women of color, who, in light of the massive wealth gap, need a higher rate of return in a shorter period of time in order to catch up. According to the American Progress think tank, women of color are disproportionately impacted by the gender wage gap in the United States and have been severely impacted by the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite making up 13% of the U.S. population, Black people constitute less than 3% of the wealth in this country, and 59% of Black women and 48% of Latins aren’t invested in any assets compared with 34% of white women and 23% of white men.

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POLL: Do You Think You Will Be Able To Retire at Age 65?

A recent report by Goldman Sachs reveals that Black women face a 90% wealth gap, having a ripple effect across socio-economic indicators like health, education and well-being. The cumulative effect on women of color means they are the least likely to be prepared for retirement and face greater economic insecurity.

It is not enough for women of color to save money, particularly given the low-interest-rate environment over the last decade. Women of color need to aggressively invest and optimize diversification in their portfolios. 

The argument for crypto, beyond just bitcoin, is simple — the rate of return will most likely continue to be strong as it nears mainstream adoption. While newer crypto coins might not see the 1,000% returns that we are accustomed to seeing, they provide an avenue for above-average gains in a short period of time. Women of color should carefully think through their risk profile but should absolutely consider diversifying with crypto investments.

Crypto is more than just bitcoin, and understanding the fast-moving avalanche of crypto derivatives can be intimidating for any new investor, especially for those who cannot afford to take on heavy risk. This crypto primer covers the fundamentals, and provides an overview of the opportunities that exist for women of color to net greater gains and diversify their portfolios for long-term wealth.

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A Guide To Getting Started Investing in Crypto

Think of the cryptoverse as a set of instruments and assets that are trying to create greater transparency and efficiency in financial markets, aka, make financial transactions cheaper, faster and more inclusive by taking out the middleman (the banks and other traditional financial institutions).

TLTR 

The short answer to getting started: Open a crypto wallet, buy some crypto coins, including fractional shares of Bitcoin and some NFTs, hold some of the coins in a crypto savings account, and there you go — you are a  crypto investor. 

The Fundamentals

The power of crypto comes from the blockchain. A blockchain is simply a distributed public ledger (think global database), with a list of transactions that anyone can view and verify because they are stored in a system of shared nodes across computer networks. A blockchain collects information together in groups, known as blocks, that hold sets of information. These blocks are immutable and can be a source of truth without the need for a trusted third party (like a central government). The blockchain is the foundation for crypto projects like bitcoin, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and smart contracts. 

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And So Bitcoin Was Born

Bitcoin was the first crypto coin built on top of the blockchain. It was developed by an entity named Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was revolutionary because it didn’t rely on banks. It is a peer-to-peer exchange system. In the early days, people could mine bitcoin, or complete an extremely complex computational math problem to earn a bitcoin. Nowadays it is much easier to get a bitcoin.

Crypto Wallets & Exchanges

Fast forward to today where you can easily buy bitcoin in your Venmo account, Cash App or crypto wallet. A crypto wallet is just what it sounds like — a place to store your cryptocurrency. Similar to banks and financial institutions, there are many providers of crypto wallets, including Coinbase and Gemini. Similar to stocks, crypto is bought and sold on exchanges (think New York Stock Exchange), and many of the crypto wallets also have affiliate exchanges. 

Bitcoin Siblings

Bitcoin might have been the first digital currency, but it certainly was not the last. There are more than 10,000 cryptocurrencies in existence as of February.

Here are some of the top coins:

  • Ethereum is both a cryptocurrency and a blockchain platform used to create smart contracts that automatically execute when conditions are met (i.e., non-fungible tokens). From April 2016 to February 2022, its price went from about $11 to over $2,700, increasing nearly 25,000%.
  • The Binance Coin is a form of cryptocurrency that you can use to transact on the Binance exchange. 
  • Cardano (ADA) created a new kind of currency called “tokens” that use proof-of-stake validation. Not to get too technical, but in order for a coin or token to have value, there needs to be either proof-of-work (completing a complex mathematical transaction) or proof-of-stake (a consensus mechanism used by blockchain networks to achieve distributed consensus). Don’t worry, you don’t need to understand the math behind the transaction to invest. Tokens have value too. In 2017, ADA’s price was 2 cents. As of Feb. 1, its price was $1.05 — an increase of 5,150%.

Decentralized Finance

DeFi is an umbrella term for peer-to-peer financial services on public blockchains. DeFi is positioned to replicate traditional financial transactions like banking, borrowing, lending, trading, etc., but it’s more efficient and doesn’t rely on a third party. 

Non-Fungible Tokens and the Bored Apes

It’s hard to ignore the NFT craze and the multitude of interesting characters invested in the metaverse. If you haven’t noticed the Bored Apes avatars floating around Twitter, then you might not realize that these NFTs are now worth $39.5 million. An NFT (think, a digital baseball card or piece of art) represents content that is stored in the Ethereum blockchain. The actual contract contains important information about the artists and the NFT price history. Not all NFTs are worth millions; in fact, some can be purchased with as little as $50. Do some research on platforms like Open Sea to check out newly minted NFTs, and take the opportunity to support women of color NFT creators.

Back to the Apes

Bored Apes are a set of 10,000 digital images of apathetic apes minted as Ethereum NFTs, but more importantly, owning a Bored Ape grants holders access to an exclusive Discord server, as well as the ability to use their ape as a profile picture on social media. Alongside NFTs is the most recent crypto hype, the Metaverse, a Web3 version of the internet that involves shared virtual worlds in which people interact as 3D NFT avatars.

Stablecoins

The stablecoin is the new gold standard. It’s a cryptocurrency that pegs its value to the value of another asset, including fiat currencies, like the U.S. dollar, commodities and cryptocurrencies. Stablecoins offer a way to enter crypto without as much risk and to receive a higher yield when invested into a crypto savings account.

Crypto Piggy Banks

Speaking of savings, if you keep your money in a traditional savings account you are more likely to lose money as inflation increases. Now people can earn interest as high as 12% on their digital assets, including stablecoins, with a new crypto savings account. The catch? These accounts are not FDIC protected, which means if something goes south, there’s no government insurance to pay you back. 

GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.

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About the Author

Ramona Ortega is the founder of WealthBuild.ai and My Money My Future. She is a lawyer, innovator and personal finance expert.
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