The crypto industry may be a boys’ club, but that shouldn’t stop women from knocking down the door.
That’s according to Samantha Wang, a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of IOST, an enterprise-grade blockchain infrastructure for online services.
In an interview with Bitcoindicate, Wang spoke about what the platform is aiming to achieve, her experiences navigating the crypto space as a woman, getting asked out on dates to crypto millionaires’ yachts, and how nation’s WeChat is connecting women in the industry.
Introduced to Bitcoin in 2013 by school friends Jimmy Zhong and Ray Xiao, Wang was able to make some minor investments, enabling her to pay off her tuition fees. However, at the time she admits she didn’t realise the true potential of the blockchain or cryptocurrency.
Graduating with a focus in radio and TV journalism, she then went on to develop her passion for storytelling as a journalist in Hong Kong. She later reconnected with Zhong and Xiao to co-found IOST, which launched in January 2018.
According to Wang, she decided to help co-found IOST because she believes the world has yet to see a blockchain platform scalable enough to handle real-world adoption. The blockchain, she says, has great potential, but it won’t be possible to demonstrate this until fundamental issues are fixed.
“Ethereum, for instance, has low transactions per second (about 15), and it supports only the most basic functionality,” Samantha adds. “dApps on Ethereum are slow, with long wait times for transactions.”
IOST, however, is aiming to change this by becoming the underlying architecture for the future of online service providers worldwide. Wang goes on to state that its Proof-of-Believability (PoB) consensus algorithm improves upon Proof-of-Stake (PoS), yielding 7,000 to 8,000 transactions per second.
“[This] is 500 times faster than Ethereum, without compromising security or decentralisation,” she says.
Despite having only launched eight months ago, IOST has established itself as a top 55 cryptocurrency, according to CoinMarketCap. It also has six offices internationally, has multiple partnerships with venture capitalists, and is listed on the top five biggest exchanges. These include Bitfinex, Binance, Huobi, OKEx, and CEX.IO.
Over the last few months a lot has been happening for the platform. In June, IOST launched Everest, its public testnet, and Bluehill, an incubator for creating dApps on top of the IOST ecosystem with the aim of building real-world use cases for blockchain technology.
This was followed up with the launch of its Community Hub and referral program in July. The result saw 10,000 sign-ups from 172 countries within 12 hours of the launch. In total, IOST has had more than one million unique visitors to the site and over 100,000 new members join its community. The end of July saw IOST being listed on Upbit, South Korea’s biggest exchange.
Looking ahead, Wang said that more events will be taking place at IOST, including the launch of the platform’s upgraded testnet leading to its mainnet release. There will also be an upcoming release of a crypto game, their soon-to-be-announced Lock-Up Program, and the launch of their updated roadmap and website.
Often the only woman in the room at Chinese blockchain events, Wang explains that as a rule you typically come across about eight women for every 100 attendees at the events.
“On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked out on dates to crypto millionaires’ yachts after these events,” she adds. “I usually say no. Honestly, the money-hungry crypto guys aren’t my type.”
Her advice as a woman in the crypto space is to be twice as strong and grounded as men. With women having to work harder, projecting confidence even if they are lacking it, finding the right allies and working on teams where men understand the value of women is important, Wang says.
“We should be treating women with the respect due to them at crypto/blockchain events, board meetings, and other professional situations,” she adds. “That means not talking over them or interrupting them, not mansplaining, and it means shaking their hand and making eye contact. If the playing field is made level, we’ll be able to prove our worth.”
Citing He Yi, co-founder of Binance, Wang says she is one such woman who is highly respected and recognised for her achievements.
One way that China is empowering women in crypto is through WeChat, China’s messaging, social media, and mobile payment app developed by Tencent. Twitter and YouTube are banned in the country, so China’s equivalent of WhatsApp is where people convene. According to Wang, any given blockchain project can have 50 or more WeChat groups dedicated to it, each with 300-500 members.
“One of my favourite WeChat groups is called Blockchain Ladies,” Wang explains. “This community plays a crucial role in empowering and connecting Chinese women in crypto because it allows us to discuss projects, network, share knowledge and encourage each other. The group contains some of the most powerful Chinese women in the blockchain space and is an incredibly powerful network.”
For Wang, the blockchain has the potential to be revolutionary and groundbreaking, but unless language is used to convince everyday people to adopt it, the technology will remain obscure and underused. Even though she concedes that the hype surrounding price speculation is exciting, it “unfairly dwarfs the technological breakthroughs that the world’s greatest minds are building behind the scenes.”
“Blockchain technology doesn’t build overnight wealth — something crypto has become associated with, at times justifiably — it builds long-term value and offers the potential to change outdated systems,” Wang adds.
Convincing the media and the public that the blockchain is more than a passing phase is one of the challenges Wang faces. Not only that, but convincing the people of China that decentralisation is a good thing is another hurdle she is overcoming.
“This will be a long education process that may take years, but it’s worth the fight,” she says.