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Boys club: Fewer than 1 in 10 crypto investors is female

Two young women are seen building a crypto mining machine. Women make up only a very small number of people invested in or mining for cryprocurrency. (Getty)

When cryptocurrency first burst on to the scene in 2009, the new digital money system was hard for novice investors to understand. But in the last few years that sentiment has changed, and more people are buying into the market every day. In December 2017, the value of one Bitcoin, the most well know and oldest cryptocurrency, surged to more than $25,000 Canadian. Investors around the world are getting in on cryptocurrency in a big way, but there’s one segment of investors that’s not as interested: Women.

A new report out by eToro, a social trading platform in Europe that claims to be leading the global fintech revolution, says less than 1 in 10 crypto currency investors are women. Men, who already dominate in stock market investment, are also the primary investors in the world of cryptocurrencies. 91.5 per cent of users who invest in cryptocurrencies are male, according to eToro.

 “To be honest I’m not surprised,” says Limor Markman, host of the upcoming television show The Fortunate Future. She adds, “Women tend to be more conservative investors. Even if you look at, in the realm of real estate, men compared to women tend to take more risk. They are ok with higher risk for higher return.”  

Markman’s show will focus on the role cryptocurrency will play in our everyday lives going forward, including how we will be investing in it.  “Women are looking for more certainty,” says Markman. 

Few investments can guarantee certainty, but cryptocurrency is even more volatile than the investments Canadians are accustomed to. After the value of one bitcoin surged to more than $25,000 Canadian in December, it had a dramatic fall in the beginning of 2018 and is currently valued at just over $8,000 Canadian. Anyone who’s already averse to risk would be unlikely to invest.

“It is a boys club. Male and white,” says Masha Prusakova, co-founder at Crypto PR Lab, a California based, marketing agency that works with blockchain and crypto start-ups. “Since the early days of cryptocurrencies, miners and blockchain developers are men.”

Prusakova says cryptocurrency operates at the intersection of computer science and finance, two industries she feels that women have historically been excluded from. “The worlds of blockchain and cryptocurrency are predominantly driven by the development community, a demographic where most professionals are male.” She says part of the reason is men are more likely to pursue finance in higher education.

She says grassroots efforts will help get more women investing.  “To foster diversity, companies need to get more women interested in crypto, understand it and only then invest. This could mean organizing regular crypto discussions for women, setting up weekly ‘women in crypto’ meetups, or even building internal workshops to teach one another about the newest trends in crypto.”

Where women are putting their money

According to eToro’s research, one cryptocurrency women are investing in, at a greater rate than any other digital currency, is XRP. Ripple is the software company that uses XRP and the XRP ledger in its product. They were was unable to comment on the claim that more women invest in XRP saying “As a company, we [Ripple] do not provide investment advice or hypothesize about why people invest in certain digital assets.”

Over the last five days, Ripple has performed very strongly against rival cryptocurrencies like Bitcon, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash. (Yahoo Finance)

Jackie Stickwood, CEO of crypto investor coaching company FinTech Fundraising, says the dominance of female investors in Ripple is unexpected. “I am fascinated that XRP is predominantly invested by women,” Stickwood says. “I imagine it is due to how they market. XRP has a much different marketing strategy than other traditional cryptos. Unfortunately, I am not surprised by the outrageous gender imbalance in crypto trading. I believe that more women need to educate themselves on finances in general as well as cryptocurrencies.”  

Breakdown of crypcocurrency investment by gender (eToro)

Prusakova says organisation like Girls Who Code and CodingFTW are helping break the stigma that women don’t understand crypto and therefore can’t invest. She says events held by these organizations are bringing more awareness into this space, ultimately making it an industry that doesn’t just have more females, but is also female-friendly.

She, along with her co-founder Alexandra Karpova, believe highlighting the achievement of women in crypto will raise awareness. Companies like theirs are breaking with tradition. She says they often go to events that are dominated by males, but have found in most situations the crowd is welcoming and encouraging. In their opinion, if women show up they will be supported and succeed.  

TV host Markman also believes digital currency has to move away from being an investment, and be used as it was supposed to be, an everyday currency.  “Merchant integration is still pretty low, you can’t go to the grocery store and mall and use crypto. It is being used as an investment vehicle right now, but that is not what it was created for. But that is happening right now.”

Stickwood says crypto may be a boys club, but that club is still pretty small as the majority of people don’t understand how the currency works. She believes that simplification and education is the key. She knows at first glance cryptocurrency is very daunting. Without a background in tech is can be hard to understand. She believes the more we can educate people and simplify everything about crypto— from purchasing, to spending, to trading — the friendlier crypto will be. More people will get involved, and that includes more women.

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