Many of us in the crypto industry know a lot about engineering and finance. We understand cryptography, how to custody digital assets and how to work with regulators. But few of us know is what it’s like to live in a banking desert or what it’s like to have government currency controls crash our economy into hyperinflation; we haven’t seen our livelihoods ruined by monetary policy.
We have some personal experience with financial surveillance — we’ve all used banks and credit cards, after all — but it’s often difficult to recognize how (whether?) governments and institutions have the power to use our personal and behavioral data to flex “social control,” blocking permission and opportunity.
Today, billions of people in the world lack access to a fair and open currency or supporting financial services, and sometimes these communities are in our own backyards. Some of our neighbors have no choice but to rely on poorly managed, centrally controlled fiat currencies and exploitive financial services — if those services are even available.
These injustices are why we’re building Zcash, and they are why many of our friends and partners in the crypto industry are building other tools and systems that empower economic freedom. To get it right will require communion between those building the tools (us) and those who need them. We need each other.
So today we’ve officially launched the Crypto in Context program, an initiative connecting industry leaders with underserved and burgeoning communities — for dialog and discovery, networking, and collaborative workshops focused on cryptocurrencies and financial literacy.
These are not one-way, lecture-driven engagements. They are opportunities for hands-on experience and personal connection. The program is designed to empower bilateral awareness and understanding — context — so the technologies we create are fitting for today’s globally connected world and adaptable to meet the evolving needs of people and societies.
The idea has grown from an initial pilot in the South Bronx, where we partnered with high school teacher Carlos Acevedo. He had been teaching his students about financial literacy and had introduced them to cryptocurrencies, but they wanted to know more. A two-day, summer workshop resulted in three internships and a second installment of the series. Gemini, Flexa, Messari and others joined us for these events and got to see and hear from a community that has a hunger to create change in their neighborhoods and for their families.
Soon after, we connected with Moe Ghashim, a Syrian refugee who was running programs for other refugees in Turkey. He had been speaking to his community about cryptocurrencies, self-sovereignty, access and privacy. His story inspired ECC to sponsor two additional educational events. The last one, an all-day virtual workshop in June, which included a session by LocalBitcoins, drew more than 250 people.
In addition to the partners mentioned above, we’ve recently onboarded more, including industry titans DCG, and Binance and education innovation leader LEANLAB Education. Our next Crypto in Context events are being planned for the fall.
“Crypto is the first real attempt to allow people from any background to get access to value. We’ve been either sanctioned by other governments or policed by our own. Crypto in context adds collaboration on top of access to value. For example: An unprivileged person from the Middle East can collaborate with a privileged person from an advanced country to exchange value and ideas freely. This is simply mind-blowing.”Moe Ghashim, Bannaa
“I was really excited to speak during June’s Crypto in Context webinar and to explain why in LocalBitcoins’ view peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading is key in spreading financial inclusion to every corner of the world! I am looking forward to participation in more events organized by Crypto in Context in order to offer even more insights into the P2P concept, especially for the people who can benefit most from it!”Vladislav Alimpiev, LocalBitcoins
“At LEANLAB Education, we believe that to find breakthroughs in the field of education, those closest to the issues — students, families and educators — must lead and inform our solutions for the future. In this vein, we are delighted to partner with ECC on the Crypto In Context program to begin a community conversation about co-creating the educational experiences, tools and resources needed to create financial freedom for a future generation.”Katie Boody, LEANLAB Education
Here’s a glimpse at how Crypto in Context works. You’ll find more at https://electriccoin.co/crypto-in-context.
- A leader speaks up: The program depends on local leaders who are willing to host crypto workshops in underserved or underexposed communities.
- Curriculum established: ECC works with the community leader on contextually appropriate and relevant curriculum in support of a series of workshops and activities, in person or online, scheduled over one to two days. A curriculum might include the basics of how cryptocurrencies and wallets work, local regulation and privacy implications, adoption scenarios, and hands-on experience using a cryptocurrency to buy goods or services.
- Agenda and partners: Once a curriculum is drafted, ECC will work with the leader to identify volunteer partners to participate. For example, Gemini has delivered content on how exchanges work, and Messari has presented in these workshops about how to use and understand data.
- Sponsorships and logistics: ECC will help coordinate and fund logistics, such as the location, food, presentations and SWAG. The leader will be responsible for leading the sessions, with our support, and providing language translation if appropriate.
There are multiple ways to get involved, as a company or as an individual. We are constantly on the lookout for community leaders, speakers, listeners, media and PR, mentors and Crypto in Context internship opportunities, financial contributions, and more. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at https://electriccoin.co/crypto-in-context.
More information and photographs of our pilot in the South Bronx are available at underestimated.electriccoin.co. It was also profiled in Coindesk and the New Yorker.