Perianne Boring

The Perianne Boring Interview II: Why Bitcoin Needs More Women

Yesterday, in Part I of the Money Morning exclusive interview with Chamber of Digital Commerce President Perianne Boring, she talked about how she got to Washington and the work of the CDC. Perianne Boring

The 27-year-old has certainly made a name for herself in the world of Bitcoin.

She founded the CDC in July of last year. The trade association's purpose is to advocate for Bitcoin not just on Capitol Hill, but amongst the regulatory maze that is Washington.

Previously, Boring served as a White House intern, a legislative aide to a Florida Congressman, and a journalist with her own blog ("Boring Bitcoin Report").

Boring has become one of the strongest voices for Bitcoin in the country. On Coinfilter's "Top 40 Women of Bitcoin" list, Boring clocks in at No. 1.

In Part II of our interview, we discuss the role of women in Bitcoin as well as some of the reasons why she's so enthusiastic about the digital currency.

The Perianne Boring Interview: Part II

MONEY MORNING: A couple of weeks ago, Felix Salmon wrote an article for Fusion that basically said that the lack of women in Bitcoin would be the death of Bitcoin. What was your reaction to that?

PERIANNE BORING: Historically there have not been a lot of women in the tech industry or the finance industry. So it's not surprising that when we merge those two together there's not a lot of women. There's certainly a lot of opportunity for women, there's certainly a lot of need for women in the industry. And the community would be very smart to embrace more women into this ecosystem.

"The community would be very smart to embrace more women into this ecosystem."

And I say this because when we look at Bitcoin and we look at digital currencies and digital payments, who controls the purse strings of the household? It's women. Women control consumer spending. And if you talk with the CEOs and the entrepreneurs of these fintech companies one of the big challenges is the consumer adoption piece, and how do you get this into the hands of consumers. And I believe that route will be through women. And so it would be very, very smart for those who are using this technology and building out the infrastructure for the future of digital payments to get more women involved.

MM: In the time you've been involved with Bitcoin, over the past few years, have you seen male-to-female ratios improve?

PB: I don't know if that's getting much better. We're certainly seeing a lot of statistics that have grown year over year. For one, GitHub repositories grew five times year over year. So that would be a measure of the intellectual capital that's going into the ecosystem. Daily transaction volume has doubled year over year. And there are other statistics that are showing the industry is growing. Whether that's changing the male-to-female ratio or not that's hard to say. But when we start seeing these basic pieces of the infrastructure, from the intellectual capital to the daily transaction volumes to the number of merchants that are beginning to accept Bitcoin - those are really the first steps of getting to that consumer adoption piece. And again, I don't think consumer adoption is going to take off unless women are involved in this in a more direct way.

But these basic pieces of infrastructure are going to be important to get to that consumer piece. Another piece that's extremely important is the regulatory public policy piece. The government clarity, the government overhang. That is the number one threat to the future of digital currency.

And this is the issue that I have dedicated my career to - for the digital currency industry to get the regulatory public policy piece of that basic infrastructure right. We're not going anywhere without that. In fact I think that can pose some very serious limitations on the growth of the industry. So whether that's a measurement of the male-to-female divide, I don't know. I think we should focus on the greater picture of what is the industry doing to put together the basic building blocks of the infrastructure to reach mainstream consumerism. As a woman working in this ecosystem, that's what I've dedicated my time to.

MM: The rate of venture capital coming into Bitcoin has been increasing rapidly over the past year. That's helping build the infrastructure.

PB: It would be interesting to also look at how many women CEOs have raised $1 million or more. I can only think of one or two off the top of my head. The [digital currency] industry is on track to raise $1 billion of venture capital funds in 2015. How many of those companies will have women CEOs?

MM: In following Bitcoin, I've run across a lot of women in leadership roles. It seems farther along than tech revolutions of the past, like PCs or the Internet, although there's still a disparity...

PB: Absolutely. It's still a challenging piece of the ecosystem. It's also a part of the culture. For a long time, women - the traditional roles they played at the business table has been very limited. And so over the generations, you have less women engineers, you have less women software developers because of it. And it's just the way the culture has shaped us. But we're at a time now where women can choose what careers they want to take. But it just takes time to overcome those cultural challenges.

One of my favorite quotes was from the CEO of Alibaba [Jack Ma]. Someone asked him what makes his company is so successful and he said, "We have a lot of women." Alibaba has over 42% women working there.

MM: Let's talk about Bitcoin itself for a moment. I imagine all the negative headlines - the stuff about people using Bitcoin to buy illegal drugs, the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange - have made your job harder.

PB: A lot of the headlines have not been helpful. All that anyone hears about is whatever makes the media headlines. But there's so much going on that's positive, that's a net positive to the economy and potentially could provide some social value around the world. But that stuff isn't covered equally in the media.

It's really interesting because I have my own blog, the "Boring Bitcoin Report," and there's so much going on in the digital currency industry. There's so much going on. So many developments all around the world. But everyone chooses what they write about at the end of the day. And it's interesting that some of these well-known publications choose to write about things that are not helpful to the industry.

"It's interesting that some of these well-known publications choose to write about things that are not helpful to the industry."

MM: So what excites you about Bitcoin? For example, I know some people like to talk about how digital currency could help all the unbanked people in the world.

PB: According to the World Bank, 74% of the world's population does not have access to basic financial services. So we now have a decentralized open-source technology that potentially could reach a lot of people.

MM: Isn't remittances another issue where Bitcoin could make a difference?

PB: It's very expensive to send money overseas. And people pay a lot of money to know exactly where their money is going, and to be confident their money is going to get there. It's obviously a needed piece of global infrastructure.

Even if you have a small percentage you could make a lot of money. It's used by a lot of migrant workers. So any type of savings you can provide in the remittance process would mean a lot for the migrant workers who use the remittance rails and for the families that rely on these remittances. And for the countries that rely on remittances. In some countries remittance flows are less volatile than the GDP of the actual country. And the remittances are greater than the respective country's GDP. So the remittance piece of this is an extremely important part of global finance.

MM: It seems that a lot of what's going on with Bitcoin isn't getting a lot of attention right now.

PB: Because a lot of the potential benefits we have yet to see. It's very, very early days, just like the early days of the Internet. Most people would have never been able to have envisioned how transformative the Internet has been to our daily lifestyle. And how much efficiency, and how it's raised our standard of living. And while Bitcoin has raised concerns among some - and we're working on addressing those issues - there are many benefits that could potentially bring billions of people around the world into the global financial system and provide greater financial conclusions.

In Part I, I talk to Perianne Boring about how she ended up in Washington as a Bitcoin advocate and what the Chamber of Digital Commerce has achieved in its first year.

Tomorrow, in Part III: I talk to Perianne Boring about the many regulatory challenges Bitcoin faces, and why there's reason for optimism.

Follow me on Twitter @DavidGZeiler.