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24 October 2020

Mission-driven cryptocurrency requires an active commitment to equity

Mission-driven cryptocurrency requires an active commitment to equity


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Views like Armstrong’s, when coming from a mission-driven cryptocurrency organization, ignore and insult the people and organizations on the ground doing the critical work to financially empower communities.

Furthermore, these views overestimate the ability of cryptocurrency to address financial exclusion caused by structural problems as well as technical ones.

The technical advantages of cryptocurrency, however, do not line up perfectly with the root causes of financial exclusion.

While cryptocurrency offers novel ways to create a new financial system, the technology and its proliferation cannot solve the underlying causes of financial exclusion alone.

Today, 1.7 billion people do not have access to a bank account, and billions more do not have access to other basic financial services because institutions have long ignored and oppressed these communities.

Of the people who do have access to the financial system, many are trapped in a cycle of debt without the means to generate wealth.

The history of marginalization that cryptocurrency will have to grapple with manifests itself in lack of connectivity, distrust in technology, financial illiteracy, and historical economic and social inequality.

Financial institutions have been part and parcel of this historical exclusion and oppression.

If people do not have enough money, they simply have no need for access to the financial system.

Without ways to generate wealth and amid widening economic inequality for over 70% of the global population, people will still find it difficult to use cryptocurrency or have no real use for it at all.

And while mission-driven cryptocurrency organizations cannot expect to do this alone, they have an important role to play in developing and directing their products to be used in the service of addressing the underlying problems.

Unlike a traditional company, a mission-driven crypto organization will have to dedicate its resources to addressing these more underlying systemic problems.

A mission-driven company will have to understand the societal problems of today and determine when they can be solved by technology and when they require something more entirely.

In this effort, cryptocurrency organizations can be a crucial player when they engage beyond their technical products to also address the root causes of financial exclusion.

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