Being a Woman Entrepreneur In China’s Get-Rich-Quick Crypto Culture
Sa Wang has co-founded several successful companies in the tech and blockchain space, first at popular Chinese self-service kiosk startup Dora, and now at top 50 crypto project and blockchain protocol IOST.
We hear a lot about women (or the lack thereof) in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space.
Confirming what many of us already suspected, CoinDesk’s Q2 2018 State of the Blockchain Report found that only 4 percent of crypto investors are women. In tandem, reporters regularly call the “blockchain bros” on the carpet for elbowing women out of yet another lucrative emerging industry.
But this has been a predominantly West-centric conversation, casting the spotlight on gender inequality and underrepresentation at Western crypto companies, Western blockchain conferences, and Western meetups.
Thus far, news articles, Twitter threads, and Medium posts have largely neglected the diversity of female experiences in other parts of the world, such as China, South Korea and Japan, where the crypto space is equally — if not more — dynamic and growing.
Take China, for instance. Despite banning ICOs and bringing bitcoin trading to a virtual standstill, in 2017, China was responsible for over half of the world’s blockchain-related patent applications — with the U.S. coming in a distant second. The top three cryptocurrencies by market cap launched in 2018 — Zilliqa, Ontology, and IOST — are all Chinese.
With such a strong Asian presence in the blockchain world, why do we rarely hear about Asian women in crypto? What can the rest of the world learn from our experiences?
Chinese women in crypto
In order to understand what it’s like to be a Chinese woman in crypto, first you must understand the Chinese crypto space itself.
Despite China’s ban on crypto trading, there is a ravenous appetite for crypto wealth — traders have simply started placing their bets in Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. The regulatory crackdowns have done little to stifle the hundreds of scam crypto projects in China (many of them deployed overseas), while newly minted bitcoin millionaires — mostly male with no education or merits necessary — abound.
In contrast to the West, where conversations are slowly evolving towards a more nuanced discussion of the merits of blockchain technology and institutional adoption, Chinese crypto enthusiasts largely maintain a single-minded speculative focus: Will this coin be listed on a Korean exchange soon? What is its market cap? Should I buy? Should I sell?
This get-rich-quick mentality makes it very difficult for serious blockchain advocates — especially females, who already have to fight for a voice — to cut through the noise and evangelize a longer-term (and much less sexy) message.
As Carylyne Chan of CoinMarketCap writes in her fascinating and detailed account of Chinese crypto culture:
“Scam cases… have engendered many tragedies, and created a more insidious impact: For those who truly believe in the blockchain, such scams are smearing the blockchain technology…