The Bitcoin industry, with its position on the bleeding edge of technology, shares many similarities with the technology industry. Unfortunately, this means that much of the same stereotypes of a Caucasian male dominated workplace are cast and recast again around the world.
With Bitcoin, and cryptography, it is impossible to know the gender of the person behind a key on the blockchain if proper precautions are taken. Here at Bitcorati, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhian Lewis, the co-founder of Count My Crypto. Count My Crypto helps users keep track of their cryptocurrency portfolio and its current value. Rhian Lewis resides in London, a world financial hub that is also home to a fledgling Bitcoin community. Besides legally having favorable Value-added Tax treatment for Bitcoin, the nearby Isle of Man is also attempting to become an international Bitcoin hub. Lewis, recently named as one of the top 40 Women of Bitcoin, was also able to provide some insight into the gender disparities in the Bitcoin world.
Bitcorati Interview with Count My Crypto’s Rhian Lewis
What is the Bitcoin scene in London like?
There is a lot going on, and I have met some interesting people, but as a whole I find the scene more business-focused than the Berlin Bitcoin community, which has more of an intimate feel. This probably has a lot to do with London’s importance as a world financial capital and it is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have a startup or other commercial enterprise. There are often interesting talks and events happening, and I am lucky enough to have two Bitcoin ATMs within a short walk of my current workplace in Shoreditch. Obviously my favourite London Bitcoin person is Magda, aka Bitkoin Mama, who is a very clever and vibrant woman who co-hosts the London Women in Bitcoin events with me.
What are your thoughts on gender in the Bitcoin industry and the technology industry as a whole?
There is an imbalance, but it’s not as bad in terms of numbers as people think. I’ve never turned up at an event and been the only woman there. Also, while I don’t want to minimise problems other women have suffered, I personally have never felt anything other than welcomed and respected, both in Bitcoin and in the tech workplace. It is quite likely that I have just been very lucky, because you do hear horror stories, and one of the reasons we started the girls’ nights was to provide a friendly and unintimidating environment for women to learn about digital currencies and blockchain technology.
How do you feel about being named as one of the top 40 women of Bitcoin by Coinfilter?
Surprised and incredibly flattered!
How has digital currency and technology personally helped your life?
It has opened up a new world of opportunities. I am working with my Count My Crypto co-founder on another business idea, and I think there is a host of possibilities in blockchain technology that could make my life very interesting in the future. But even more than that, I have enjoyed meeting amazing, intelligent people from all around the world who are genuinely interested in using technology to change the status quo. And that is a very inspiring thing to be involved with. Oh, and a guy sent me some Bitcoin from the US to buy beer with one night when I tweeted that I was at a Bitcoin meetup in Berlin. It’s a very friendly community worldwide.
What is your favorite quote?
Charles Bukowski: “The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them”
When and how did you first hear about Bitcoin?
It was on my radar for a while, probably around 2010-2011. I have a BSc in Economics, I read a lot about tech and finance, so I couldn’t miss it, really. I was tremendously interested in the technology and the possibilities it offered, but in a theoretical way. Then, when I decided to take the plunge and start investing myself, I figured Bitcoin was too highly priced to be worth either mining or buying, so I started looking at other cryptocurrencies and trading them. And that was how Count My Crypto started: I’m a software engineer in my day job, so I decided to write myself a little tool to keep track of the prices and what my portfolio was worth. My colleague Bruce, who is a very talented front-end developer, got interested and between us we turned the application into the useful and nice-looking application it is today.
When did you first decide to dedicate time to digital currencies; how much of your time do you dedicate? Is this your full-time job?
It’s not my full-time job, so somehow I have to try and carve out time in my day to keep the site running, think about other business ideas and organise the women’s meetup once a month. I’m self-employed and I’m lucky enough to be able to live in great cities like London and Berlin, so I have used that flexibility to my advantage in terms of moving around, meeting other people and making connections. I make sure I read the latest blockchain/digital currency stories every day (Twitter is invaluable for that), and the first thing I do when I wake up every day is check Count My Crypto and make sure that I haven’t missed any alerts overnight. I normally do a coin update at the weekends to add any newly launched currencies that look like they might be popular. The alt market at the moment is very slow, so I am spending no time on development, but probably more time on research.
What is one piece of advice that you have for those around the world that might be aspiring to do what you do?
My co-founder once said to me, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.’ That resonated with me, and I think it’s great advice
How has the world been changed by this new technology?
It’s a process… it hasn’t happened yet. But it will happen, and the speed with which it will happen will take everyone by surprise
How do you think the world will be changed by this new technology?
I really think the technology has the power to change the world, but it depends on how we use it. I think there is an almighty battle going on between people who are genuinely interested in the empowerment and social change that truly decentralised systems could bring, and entities such as the banks whose main focus is incorporating blockchain technology into their existing structure to reduce costs while neutralising its threat. Ask me this question again in 2017 and i think we’ll have a much better idea.
Thanks to Rhian for her time!