Erica Stanford sighs and says she sees cryptocurrency as “a very long-term thing” as she muses about the huge fall in the price of cryptocurrency over recent weeks.
“I am very cynical, though,” the founder of the Crypto Curry Club and Cryptocurrency Simplified, tells me. “Of the 2,000 projects, I believe 98% will die. Last year, when everything was going super heavily with ICOs I had five guys working in research and going through every single project.
“Of those, 90% clearly had no business behind it and no value and were just people wanting to get rich quick by copying Ethereum source code to create whatever named coin to raise money in an ICO.”
She says there’s “no way any venture capitalist, investor or bank would offer a loan to these projects.”
Fault of the markets
“A lot of it is the fault of the markets, given the hype and excitement that’s been around and there’s a lot of projects that have no value or will never be launched. Because there’s no regulation all projects get tarred with the same brush.”
She believes blockchain will “become dominant in every industry and there’s a lot of value in blockchain.”
Blockchain has the potential for digital currency cutting out the transaction and foreign exchange fees of fiat currency, she says.
With the price of cryptocurrency, there’s the “fear of regulation and uncertainty with large institutions pushing the price down.”
“I didn’t reckon it would go this low, I don’t think anyone did,” she adds. “But you can’t predict it – it’s not a rational market. I wouldn’t be surprised if the market goes higher again because of the hype.”
Stanford has only been involved in the space for the last year or so after doing a lot of research about cryptocurrency.
Stolen credit card
“I thought the idea was super-cool,” she says. “What got me here was I used to do a lot of travelling and my last credit card was stolen when I was in Guatemala. I had to walk several miles to the Western Union and waited for three days for the money to arrive.
“When it did arrive, it cost 14% and when you consider that 2.5bn people in the world don’t have access to a bank account, and it cost 30% to send it from A to B, it really hit me how we can use it.”
With women in blockchain, she realised that “about 95% of my contacts in tech are men.” To correct this gender imbalance, she began the networking Crypto Curry Club in London. It has begun to expand across the UK.
It was established, she says, as there was no other decent networking for crypto and blockchain enthusiasts.
“A large part of the problem is it has only been geeky guys who are interested in tech. They have no concept of translating simple English so that people can understand it and to look at it from different perspectives.”
On occasions, at networking events, she has experienced worrying trends such as inappropriate advances from some men, as have other women which “does not help matters” with people asking if she’s dating or making advances towards a friend’s daughters.
Her site, Cryptocurrency Simplified, aims to demystify the world and all the buzzwords that prevent the tech from being of interest to people in the mainstream while making it ‘idiot-proof.’
Blockchain is starting to be adopted by the likes of “a major UK supermarket” that it looking at the technology to use for its supply chain. Stanford says: “A lot of industries are really seriously looking at it – and if they are not, then they need to be.
“It’s useful for more outsourcing and from a practical point of view there are financial benefits for organisations, which I believe is its stand-out unique selling point.
“I have 100% faith that in five years’ time the majority of companies will be using blockchain as an accounting or tracking tool.”
She calls for more regulation, although she acknowledges it also goes against the principles too. But there is a need as a result of all the scams. “There needs to be a degree of market regulation before things really go mainstream.”
She would urge young women to “do what you are interested in,” and not specifically follow a career in the space, unless it’s something that is of interest.