It is widely believed that the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors are almost exclusively male-dominated. However, a report released by CoinMarketCap on April 30 suggests otherwise. According to analysts, the number of women in the cryptocurrency industry increased by 43.24% in the first quarter of 2020.
Below is a breakdown of key factors that contributed to this record growth and why the numbers vary from region to region.
Women investing more in Bitcoin
As global financial conditions tightened, many people began to invest in real estate, gold and cryptocurrencies. Assuming that females tend to be more pessimistic than males about the global economy, their confidence in cryptocurrency could significantly increase in 2020. As such, many women found a safe haven in digital assets.
Meanwhile, for others, cryptocurrencies became a promising investment. Blockchain entrepreneur Nisa Amoils pointed to the attractive investment opportunities of the market as one of the main reasons behind the growing interest of women toward digital money, telling Cointelegraph:
“Women can get more income through trading, investing and virtual spending of Bitcoin. And the token economy can democratize access to capital through, for instance, security token offerings.”
Many trading platforms have already seen an increase in cryptocurrency demand. For example, in March, digital currency exchange Coinbase noted the surge of deposits made by U.S. residents in the amount of $1,200 — exactly the same size as the coronavirus stimulus checks issued by the United States government.
At the same time, Bitcoin has doubled in value over the past two months, which, coupled with the recent halving event, has caused a stir around cryptocurrencies. Here, women have been just as competent as men. In particular, according to Grayscale, 49.8% of women predicted that Bitcoin’s limited emission would lead to its price growth in the future.
Crypto trading isn’t a “boy’s club”
The growth of the Bitcoin price as well as the investment attractiveness of digital money in general have contributed to an increase in the number of women in cryptocurrency exchanges. Thus, for example, cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb Global reported to Cointelegraph that the company witnessed a 30% growth in the number of its female users in 2020. Its vice president Vincent Poon explained that today’s women use digital money to hedge their funds, although not all trade proactively:
“I think women usually are less reserved when it comes to investing Bitcoin due to the technical piece of it and the volatility of the Bitcoin. I think they just are trying to diversify or hedge the portfolio and start looking at Bitcoin as alternate investment due to losing confidence in the traditional securities or economy as a whole during the pandemic. More women open accounts but not necessary trading though. They are exploring.”
Cointelegraph found out that the number of female users has grown between 22% and 160% on the majority of top crypto exchanges since the beginning of the year. Notably, digital assets exchanges CEX.io and EXMO saw the same increase in the number of female users as Bithumb Global.
Alexander Kravets, CEO of CEX.io U.S., shared the latest statistics with Cointelegraph: “As part of our overall user base, CEX.IO has seen a 26.86% growth of the female user segment from Q1 to Q2 of 2020.” Maria Stankevich, head of business development at EXMO, told Cointelegraph that the biggest growth occurred in the number of women aged 18–24 and 35–44. She added:
“We noticed that sometimes the other family members of VIP traders started to trade. Probably it is connected with the fact that they want to gain some new skills.”
United Kingdom-based crypto exchange CoinCorner revealed that the share of women among its users is now 14.7%, with a 47% increase in the number of female sign ups occurring in Q1 2020. Joanne Goldy, marketing specialist at CoinCorner, commented to Cointelegraph: “In the first five years at CoinCorner, we saw limited interest from female audiences, with sign ups slowly rising from 10% to 14% over that period.”
Meanwhile, OKCoin reported an even higher influx of women to its services. Hong Fang, CEO of the exchange, told Cointelegraph that there was an 80% increase in female traffic in Q1 2020, with 50% of these female users being net new users. She added that 40% of them were aged 25 to 34.
Taking the cake was Bitfinex, with a record 162% growth rate of new female users this year so far. Joe Morgan, the exchange’s senior public relations manager, told Cointelegraph:
“This growth clearly demonstrates an increasing interest in digital assets among women. As to why women are choosing to set up accounts with Bitfinex, perhaps this can in part be attributed to the diverse and inclusive nature of the business.”
Cryptocurrency is becoming easy to use
The slow but steady adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies could also contribute to an increasing number of women wishing to include this innovation in their everyday lives. In March, financial platform 2gether revealed that 23% of its app users are women aged between 26 to 45 and of different professions such as accountants, lawyers and economists. As the report points out, today female users spend cryptocurrency in the same way as they would spend their fiat money.
Additionally, Terra — another crypto payment operator — reported that 74% of its users are women in their late 30s and early 40s who paid with digital assets for clothes, coffee and other everyday goods. The statistics suggest that not only women who are millennials and geeks but also those without technical expertise or education have also begun to use cryptocurrencies.
CoinMarketCap data show that women’s involvement in the crypto industry can also depend on geographic factors. For instance, the number of cryptocurrency users in the U.S. and Europe — the regions with the highest level of demand for digital money — has increased by 50% since the beginning of the year. The trend has been proved by the statistics released by 2gether, revealing that European women using digital currencies are mainly millennials and Gen Xers aged between 26 to 45 years old.
At the same time, some individual countries showed an increase of more than 100% in the number of female crypto users, according to CoinMarketCap. In Europe, for example, Greece stands out most, with a record growth of 163.67%. Nikolaos Kostopoulos, market adoption and partnerships officer at Harmony, noted economic and labor factors as the main reasons behind the increased number of women in the Greek crypto market, telling Cointelegraph:
“The Greek economy was showing steady signs of improvement (post the pandemic crisis), while the job market was flourishing. This new wave of young professionals were actively seeking mediums to identify alternative investments. [...] Similarly, blockchain is among the skills on high-demand, especially along with the consulting and IT firms. The Greek IT industry is also experiencing more and more women joining, with similar trends in the technical & engineering academic institutions.”
In onboarded women to the crypto space, Greece is followed by Romania with 125.09%, Portugal with 89.95%, Ukraine with 86.68% and the Czech Republic with 85.6%. In some of these countries, the growth can be linked to economic factors such as low gross domestic product and a high level of unemployment, while active development in the IT sector was a major driver in others.
Alyona Karpinskaya, CEO and founder of a Ukraine-based public relations agency PR-Blockchain, expanded upon this point to Cointelegraph, asserting that the sharp increase in Ukrainian women’s interest in cryptocurrencies can be attributed to an increased number of IT companies and technologically educated women in the country. “According to the data of 2019, the number of women working in Ukrainian IT sector increased by 62% compared to 2017,” she said. The global financial crisis could also contribute to this influx, according to Karpinskaya:
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global quarantine, more than 53% of Ukrainian IT companies experienced loss of customers, which in turn could lead to significant financial losses and the need for specialists to search for alternative financial opportunities.”
When it comes to female crypto users in Asian countries, Indonesia demonstrated the biggest progress, with an 88.92% increase in the number of women interested in digital money. Further north, in South Korea — a country making big steps toward crypto legalization — women in 2020 are reportedly spending more crypto on shopping than ever.
Meanwhile, in Latin America, Argentina seems to be the country making the biggest strides in the involvement of women in the digital technology industry, with a 98% increase in the number of female cryptocurrency holders. Walter Salama, founder and chief operating officer of Argentina-based mining company BitPatagonia, noted a growing number of Argentinian women engaged in the IT sector as one of the reasons behind this spike:
“Argentina has an excellent world position regarding entrepreneurship, and ratio of unicorns by country. Women of this generation [aged to 65+] are leading many ventures. [...] Regarding the Blockchain ecosystem and Cryptocurrencies, in Argentina there are many women who are investing in projects and early adopters of Bitcoin.”
The other two Latin American countries showing the largest increase in women in the crypto industry were Colombia with 82.03% and Venezuela with 80.23%. Among the possible reasons behind this growth are high inflation, restrictions on foreign exchange transactions and lack of local people’s confidence in the national currency.
At the same time, Africa and China demonstrated a negative trend in the number of women interested in cryptocurrencies, with the latter facing a significant reduction in the growth rate of female users in 2020. Analysts are attributing this to the coronavirus pandemic and the Chinese government’s negative stance on digital money.
Successful examples of other women and gender equality
In the world of cryptocurrencies, there have been more women not only trading digital money but also entering roles traditionally dominated by men, including analysts, developers and company leads. At the same time, statistics show that blockchain companies founded by women can successfully compete with those run by men.
Large crypto companies such as Bancor and Binance are vivid examples of this, the former co-founded by Galia Benartzi and both with 40% to 50% of employees being women. Another crypto exchange, Huobi — counting over 1,300 employees — appointed Ciara Sun as the company’s first female executive.
More and more female representatives are coming to the crypto market following the successful examples of other women, according to OKCoin’s Hong Fang. He said: “We are seeing more female startup founders and thought leaders enter crypto. Naturally this has had a positive impact on attracting more female users to crypto platforms.”
The growing number of female participants and speakers at crypto conferences is clear proof of this. Christophe Ozcan, an organizer for the Paris Blockchain Summit, told Cointelegraph that the number of women participating in the conference doubled over the last year:
“We have shown on our previous event in Paris Blockchain Summit a female growth of 56% as attendees and 22% growth as Speakers compare to our first edition on 2018.”
Ozcan added that the average age of female participants was 33 years, meaning that more mature attendees are getting interested in cryptocurrencies. Confirming this trend, Eman Pulis, CEO of the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit, noted a low level of gender inequality in the cryptocurrency sector: “Female participation across all levels in Emerging Tech has been very encouraging, both in terms of quantity and quality — delegates are engaging and speakers are enlightening.”
Alyona Karpinskaya agreed that the lack of gender discrimination fostered the growth of the number of women engaged in cryptocurrency activities. Therefore, 2020 appears to be the year for women empowerment and gender equality more than ever before.
However, the question remains: Will women who have recently entered the cryptocurrency market be effectively onboarded into the space? Hsin-Ju Chuang, whose Dystopia Labs educates people in blockchain, explained to Cointelegraph why a surge of the number of females in the industry doesn’t necessarily mean that all of them will become professional crypto users. Chuang also noted the importance of providing further education:
“Now that there are more women at the top of the funnel, are education organizations able (and actively trying) to reach out to them, educate, and bring them deeper down the rabbit hole? Ie. transform them from being a speculator into an active network participant?”