Girls Want Gems: App Designed to Grow Bitcoin User Base (Op-Ed)

Art by: Jing Jin

The developers of the Gems app are betting that “female adoption is a key milestone” for Bitcoin to go mainstream.

Listen to a group of men talk about Gems and the technicalities of how the app and protocol work, and you’ll hear their excitement about a social app that decentralizes social networking and rewards its users. 

They like the fact that Gems isn’t owned by a large, centralized company like Facebook, and that Gems won’t exploit users by selling data to advertisers. Instead, advertisers must pay users for ad views, but users can also choose an ad-free experience. They can choose to keep their identities and their data private, and the more they use the app, the more the app pays them.  

What I haven’t heard men mention during their discussions is that the design of the app is pink and its logo displays a diamond-shaped gem

I listened to one such discussion among men in late October, when Salon spoke with both Daniel Peled, CEO and lead developer of Gems, and Dario Mutabdzija of Koinify—the company in charge of the public sale of gems tokens (GEMZ) that started on December 1

One participant asked Peled about advertising within the app. He responded:

“Advertising is not the first step in our development. The first step is actually growing the network of users. One of the biggest problems that Bitcoin has is that it’s not appealing enough to women, to ladies. They’re the best adopters of social networks, if you take Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest. There’s a big reason why they are still not inside the Bitcoin ecosystem. The registration isn’t simple enough, and once they’re inside, they don’t have enough to do with it. Texting is something they love to do. Adding this token and monetization economy inside makes it very interesting between them.”

When I first heard Peled’s comments, as a woman I felt angry: Registration isn’t simple enough. Women don’t know what to do with Bitcoin. They love texting. When I mentioned this to him, he wanted to emphasize that these are mainstream issues, and that they apply to both men and women. The whole ecosystem of users is small, and there aren’t enough people embracing cryptocurrencies, for similar reasons—whether male or female.

One female, Adella Toulon—the vice president for special projects at CoinOutlet, Inc., an ATM company in the Bitcoin space—wrote her master’s thesis on Bitcoin. She was the first person, male or female, at her law school to do so. She titled it, appropriately, “Strength in Numbers.” When I asked her what drew her to Bitcoin, she said,

“I was drawn to it by the fact that all the smartest people I knew were talking about it. . . . I became further drawn into the space by the knowledge that such a technology could change the lives of the billions who are under and un-banked.”

I asked her what she thought of the Gems app. Like me, she also noticed its stereotypically