As women rise in leadership positions in all industries, one of the most watched areas for female leadership is tech. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Ubisoft’s Jade Raymond, and Bozoma Saint John of Uber (formerly Apple) are all paving the way for the many women breaking up the tech ratio.
Last week, Women Who Dare was lucky to have our own member tech star Olga Buchonina, fill us in on exactly what bitcoin is, what we need to know, and how we can be tech savvy on blockchain and data security in 2018. Olga is the cofounder of Action Spot co-working community and startup incubator in Silicon Valley with a number of upcoming blockchain-related startups. Action Spot is a partner of Women Who Code, a global non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers.
You can find the entire webinar video here, in case you missed it!
After this quick recap, you’ll be able to keep up with all the conversation:
About the underlying concept changing our world: Blockchain
To really understand Bitcoin, you have to understand the underlying concept of Bitcoin that makes anonymity and decentralization possible. Blockchain is the distributed ledger of all transactions recorded in a chain of distributed blocks. This ledger with peer to peer validation of transactions eliminates the need for a centralized institution to validate.
If you understand Google Drive, you can understand blockchain (and why it makes sense). Compare Google Drive to sending files via email. When you send files via email there are multiple versions but only one is the most updated; you need a central authority to distribute the updated/official document. With a Google Doc, everyone has equal access to the updated, official document and any changes are immediate with no intermediary needed.
I can’t think back to when Google Drive wasn’t the default option. The segregated nature of sending Word documents seems so archaic. Soon, blockchain will make finance, contracts, and other areas of business across all industries intuitive and peer to peer like Google Drive.
So, Olga, what is bitcoin?
Olga calls bitcoin, in simplest terms “innovative payment network”; essentially, a new kind of money. Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency. What this means is that instead of validation happening through a centralized institution, transactions happen peer to peer. They are validated by a network nodes through the use of cryptography. Special nodes, or “miners”, then record transactions to a public distributed ledger called a blockchain.
Let’s understand a brief history of Bitcoin:
- The original whitepaper on digital currency that world become the guideline for Bitcoin was published back in 2008 titled bitcoin.pdf.
- Soon after the creator, Nakamoto, released open source code at bitcoin.org.
- Bitcoin’s bit break was Wikileaks using the currency for fundraising following legal problems in 2010.
Here are the key features that make Bitcoin so intriguing:
- Users are anonymous
- Private keys ensure security
- Bitcoin exchanges and wallets open the possibility of trading and profit
- A finite supply (21 million bitcoins) securing an increasing value
Anonymity: the most important benefit:
Olga makes a great comparison to help us understand what exactly is “anonymous” about bitcoin: It is possible to send and receive bitcoins without giving any personally identifying information. Sending and receiving bitcoins is like writing under a pseudonym. Your pseudonym is the address to which you receive Bitcoin.
However, you can lose your anonymity if your personal information is ever linked to your address.
These are Olga’s recommendations to keeping your identity secure:
- Multiple Wallets
- Mixing Services
- Online Wallets
Are you interested in investing? Olga and her team are available for help in investing in bitcoin, managing wallets, and your data security.
Olga says to consider these when selecting an exchange:
- Payment methods
- Verification Requirements
- Geo Restrictions
- Exchange Rate
Olga’s top exchanges for 2018: Here are her recommendations
- Binance: Olga likes Binance because they offer an easy-to-use mobile app and is the fastest growing. This is her top pick for 2018.
- Changelly: Olga says this exchange is easy to use and a perfect choice for a beginner as it allows for quick transactions. You can purchase with your credit card here!
- Cryptopia: Here’s where to find the undervalued cryptocurrencies to invest in.
To invest, you’re going to need a Wallet. So, what’s a wallet?
A cryptocurrency wallet is a software program that stores private and public keys and interacts with various blockchain to enable users to send and receive digital currency and monitor their balance. If you want to use Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, you will need to have a digital wallet. Checkout actionwallets.com for more on investing under the guidance of Olga in innovative startups in the bay area with Olga’s Action Spot Incubator.
Here are Olga’s recommended wallets:
- Coinbase: This is the most straightforward option. It is now being used widely in more than 25 countries and helping over 20 million users exchanging nearly $20 billion in cryptocurrency. It is totally free to sign up, but Coinbase charges a specific fee, depending on the size of your transaction.
- Exodus: This option is very visual with colorful graphics and features with a reporting system.
- Jaxx: While Jaxx is basically a mobile-based cryptocurrency wallet, it would also be used on other operating systems. You can use Jaxx not only to store your digital currency but also other crypto-assets and make sure they are protected against hackers.
What cryptocurrencies can you invest in?
Obviously, Bitcoin is the most well know as well as the most available, but there are plenty of cryptocurrencies of varying value ripe for investment opportunity as well. A resource Olga suggests that you can use to do some research yourself is coinmarketcap.com.
One more important concept to know: ICOs
You’ve probably been hearing the term “ICO” thrown around a bit. This is another important topic to understand to keep up with the crypto conversation. An ICO is an initial coin offering. Think of it as an IPO that companies use to raise capital. An ICO is where an investment that gives the investor a cryptocoin, more commonly known as a coin or a token in return for investment. The tokens you received would be equivalent to the shares you receive in an IPO.
The advantages of an ICO vary:
- Since regulation is still catching up, a company/project is not necessarily subject to direct taxation, which in contrast to companies fund raising through IPOs.
- Sales of coins or tokens are direct, with no or few intermediaries. It’s a much more individual and autonomous process for investors.
- An ICO may only give you rights of a particular project. So you can invest on a por specified level.
- decision making is decentralized, giving the investor a material decision making position.
- ICOs can have multiple rounds of fundraising, with few if any intermediaries.
Besides direct investment in bitcoin and other financial applications, where else can you expect to see blockchain?
Expect to see the concept of blockchain widely applied to help make other areas of government and business more efficient and decentralized. The further application of blockchain and emerging companies facilitating this transition are ripe opportunities for investment, so start watching now!
- Financial institutions
- Audit trails
- Smart contracting
- Digital identity
- Inter-organizational data management
2018 is the time to begin investing in blockchain related technologies and concepts as they start to change the way our world functions. Olga, who has been researching and involved in the evolution of blockchain for years as well as providing guidance to other entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, is our go-to for all thing blockchain. Get in touch with her at email@example.com for personal guidance in investing and getting started to join the ranks of women in tech.