Filmmaker Alana Mediavilla On Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption, Education And Closing The Gender Gap

It’s no secret that those who feel threatened by Bitcoin will attack it. Just a month ago, The New York Times published a malicious article on Bitcoin mining’s energy usage. Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts has repeatedly attacked Bitcoin from a variety of angles, going so far as to launch an “anti-crypto army” targeting Bitcoin as a hazard to consumers, all while misleading the public on the environmental impact of Bitcoin.

These verbal assaults are not isolated and the examples above represent only a small piece of the uphill climb Bitcoin has to mass adoption. To put it mildly, Bitcoin is disrupting countless industries, making centralized authorities fearful of losing their monopoly on money and the power that accompanies it. Bitcoin essentially “calls the bluff” on corrupt bureaucrats and infinitely-inflatable fiat currencies that further enrich those who own assets while eating away at the purchasing power of those living paycheck to paycheck. Because Bitcoin is location-agnostic and capable of utilizing flexible loads, it naturally increases demand for the cheapest energy sources, which are often stranded natural gas or renewables.

So, why do many elected officials and companies attempt to denigrate and work to outlaw Bitcoin mining? Likely because their egos prevent them from understanding the value proposition of Bitcoin, but the facts speak for themselves.

Alana Mediavilla is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, business owner, filmmaker and Bitcoiner. She has a hell of a resume and a passion for storytelling. Armed with her knowledge of Bitcoin and skillset, Mediavilla decided to film and produce the documentary “Dirty Coin,” which highlights the value of Bitcoin mining while simultaneously busting the theory that Bitcoin mining is bad for the environment.

It was a privilege to hear her story and I know you will find her passion for Bitcoin inspiring.

What is your professional background? 

I’ve been an artist and entrepreneur my whole life. Couldn’t help it. Started my production company in Silicon Valley 11 years ago and got recruited to be a video producer at Google Cloud for almost five years while I moonlit still running my creative agency for other big tech folks. In 2021, I parted my full-time ways with Google to focus my efforts on my company and my own IP and films.

How did you first learn about Bitcoin and what categorically drew you to it? 

I learned about Bitcoin during my daughter’s ballet class in Campbell, California. A friend of mine that also had his daughter in the same class told me to buy as much as I could waste on bitcoin that week. He told me it would go up, so I degened into Bitcoin. That got me paying attention to it and when my Cuban grandfather told me he knew people sending bitcoin to Cuba, I dug into what the heck Bitcoin really was. What I found out blew my mind and continues to do so to this day.

How do you typically respond to those who are dismissive of Bitcoin, especially those close to you? 

I make a feature documentary explaining my position to them XD.

It’s understandable to be against Bitcoin. Crypto is a clown show and many don’t see the difference between Bitcoin and shitcoins. Add to that that many people were raised with an energy scarcity mentality so having some crypto “hog all the energy” definitely sounds alarming. The issue is that this is just not the case. Is the industry perfect? Hell no! But are we scrutinizing the energy use of other industries the same way? Are we studied enough to know about the situations where having an energy-hungry industry like Bitcoin mining can be a good thing, as in the cases with flare mitigation or becoming a buyer of last resort in the middle of nowhere?

Understanding more factual information about the space can’t help but create better conversations about Bitcoin.

In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?

Bitcoin is for everyone. Closing the gender gap is bringing diversity of users and advocates into Bitcoin. Women are particularly good at influencing their social circles and communities. More women in the Bitcoin space means more women advocating for Bitcoin in a grassroots way. We need all kinds of people to root for financial sovereignty and that starts with conversations around the dinner table that mothers are very often responsible for leading. Whether a woman is financially independent or supporting her partner who is taking on that responsibility for the family, women understanding the importance of Bitcoin means more support to other women, people in their community, and most importantly, their families.

This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Achieving The American Dream: Why Natalie Brunell Shares The Stories Of Bitcoin

Taught from a young age to work hard and think for herself, media pro Natalie Brunell is dedicated to sharing Bitcoin with the world.

Oftentimes, when you hear about the “American dream,” you think of a heart-warming success story. The entrepreneur who made millions. Or the immigrant family that changed the trajectory for their children. And while these inspiring stories do exist, there are many others who came to America hoping for a better life only to be met with countless obstacles that hindered them from achieving their American dreams.

Modern-day monetary policy runs on fluctuating interest rates and inflation. Many people are not aware that the U.S. dollar, which was founded on a gold-reserve system, has not only been off of the gold standard for over 50 years, but is now “backed” by the United States military and petrodollar. The amount of control that the United States government has on those living in poverty is astronomical. Because of these limiting restrictions, among other factors, the American dream has become much harder to achieve.

However, Bitcoin can help change this negative cycle.

Natalie Brunell burst onto the Bitcoin scene in 2021. She was born in Poland and immigrated with her parents to America as a young child. Growing up with a family that was determined to build a new life in America, the value of hard work and a healthy amount of skepticism was ingrained into Brunell for as long as she can remember.

With over ten years of experience in the media sector, she took a risk and started her own Bitcoin podcast. Since then, Coin Stories has been wildly successful and influential in highlighting power players in the Bitcoin space.

Her story is inspiring and welcoming to anyone interested in getting started on their Bitcoin journeys.

How did you first learn about Bitcoin and what specifically drew you to it?

I first learned about Bitcoin in 2016 from a group of friends while working as a local news reporter covering breaking and investigative stories in Sacramento, California. I didn’t understand Bitcoin’s technological innovation or the mission of Bitcoin’s proponents to address systemic issues in our financial system. In fact, I equated it back then to investing in stocks.

Luckily, I bought a little bit and held through my first bear market. I also pitched a story about Bitcoin to my news outlet and ended up reporting on a local Bitcoin ATM. I was fascinated by this emerging technology, but my station was not keen on covering more stories on it, so I let it go as a reporting assignment.

It wasn’t until a few years later when my mentor told me to read The Bitcoin Standard that I began my journey down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. Saifedean Ammous’s book changed my perspective on money and sparked my idea for the Coin Stories podcast, which ultimately changed my career and my life.

What drew me to Bitcoin was the idea of removing the state’s monopoly on money and creating an opportunity for our economy to be rebuilt on a sound monetary unit that is immune to manipulation. I envision a world where money is based on value rather than proximity to politics and power.

What made you leave your traditional media job to pursue Bitcoin?

Ever since I was a young girl, I aspired to become a broadcast journalist. My family immigrated from Poland to Chicago when I was five years old. My family always had the news on at home because the programming helped my parents learn to speak English and kept us informed about current events both overseas and in our new home country. My idol growing up was Barbara Walters.

I always believed in journalists as watchdogs, not government lap dogs. My parents grew up under a communist regime and were always skeptical of both central authority and media propaganda. I’m grateful for that upbringing because it caused me to question everything around me and made me a more determined reporter.

I spent more than ten years working in mainstream news media and became disillusioned by the increasing bias I saw on various networks. I was fortunate to be able to cover in-depth investigative pieces in my last TV correspondent position that were not politicized, but the industry around me was moving in the direction of partisanship, censorship of alternative views and prioritization of access to politicians rather than pursuing and demanding accountability.

When preparation meets opportunity, that’s “luck.” I had the communication skills and media training (preparation) and the market had a growing demand for knowledge (opportunity). Bitcoin offered me an opportunity to leave mainstream media in October 2021 to develop my podcast and promote Bitcoin education. I decided to bet on myself and see if I could build a business doing something I believed would ultimately impact the world more than my news reporting. I have never felt more fulfilled by what I do and I am propelled by a sense of duty to help people understand our financial system and the benefits of Bitcoin, a revolutionary fix for our money.

How do you typically respond to those who are dismissive of Bitcoin, especially those close to you (such as your close friends, etc.)?

I respond with, “I know; I was there once, too.” Being skeptical and critical is a good thing, it means you’re not easily persuaded or sold on the latest fad. It means you think for yourself. That’s already a win. I try to meet the person where they are. One of my mentors, Jeff Booth, has an excellent question to pose to skeptics and newcomers to Bitcoin. That question is: “If technology is supposed to make things cheaper and easier to produce, why is the cost of living around us continually going up?”

It’s a simple but powerful question that drives at the heart of the problem in our monetary system: inflation.

Every year, it gets more and more difficult to afford a home, a college education and retirement. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and we’re all working harder for currencies that are worth less and less. This isn’t a natural phenomenon of our existence. It is the synthetic outcome of the state monopoly on money, and it impacts every aspect of our lives.

When I do engage with friends on the topic of Bitcoin, I encourage them to note the various crises they’re hearing and reading about, or perhaps even experiencing directly. Most people have a sense that things are really challenging at the moment, that we seem to be moving in the wrong direction. Once that groundwork is laid, I can spark their curiosity about why Bitcoin offers such a powerful alternative.

In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?

I released the first episodes of my podcast at the Bitcoin 2021 conference. I attended the event on a media pass and brought my best friend, Paula, along for company because I didn’t know anyone personally in Bitcoin. My intention was to meet fellow Bitcoiners and try to ask individuals I admired to appear on the show, with no intention of building a career in the space.

I had never attended industry conferences and was taken aback by the size and number of attendees. But it was hard not to notice a massive gender gap in that audience. In fact, nowhere was it more apparent than when you looked at any conference restroom area: there would be a queue of men stretching around a corner on one side, and a vast, empty expanse on the women’s side.

I began to think more deeply about why women were so underrepresented in this industry. As we know, finance, engineering and computer science are all male-dominated fields that organically intersect with Bitcoin, so it makes sense that a male audience would discover this amazing technology before a female audience. Social media also tends to perpetuate a “crypto bro culture” that obscures the global community of Bitcoin pioneers doing brilliant, wholehearted work. Bitcoin is an inherently multifaceted technology that takes time and effort to understand, and even requires some reeducation around money in general. I believe that all newcomers to Bitcoin, and women in particular, including my closest friends, who are already busy industry leaders and smart investors, need trusted and approachable guides to help navigate around these barriers.

I saw this imbalance as an opportunity to grow the space and connect with these newcomers. Ever since that first conference, I have been determined to become a resource for ordinary working people, and especially women, to learn more about Bitcoin and how our global economy works.

Bitcoin is for everyone. Bitcoin is a tool of freedom and prosperity for every gender, age, race, language, cultural background, and political affiliation. Bitcoin levels the playing field and can bring us all together in cooperation. I am passionate about educating other women about Bitcoin because I want them to have a seat at the table of this financial revolution and empower themselves and their families for the long run. We often feel the most comfortable learning from and engaging with people who look and sound like us. If I can serve as a welcoming voice for new women in the Bitcoin space, I see it as an honor. I love being a woman, I love learning from and connecting with other women, and I am so proud to be a woman in Bitcoin. Discovering Bitcoin is incredibly empowering, and we need to continue building a supportive, inquisitive community for that journey.

This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

How Anita Posch Brings Financial Education To The World: ‘Bitcoin Gives Them A Choice’

Podcaster and non-profit educator Anita Posch discusses her mission to travel the world and bring Bitcoin to those who need it most.

As an American who grew up in the South, I am ashamed of the lack of financial knowledge I had as a young adult. Bitcoin made zero sense to me until I understood the history of money and what it means to have a peer-to-peer, apolitical, monetary system. This knowledge has opened my mind to the many things that Bitcoin can accomplish in regards to elevating human rights around the world.

Every single day, more human rights violations are reported in the media. From the Rohingya genocide to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a thousand more in between. The world we live in is corrupted by greed and those who misuse their power. Oftentimes, the power hungry use fiat currency as a means of control. That being said, Bitcoin’s case for improving human rights is the number one reason why I care about Bitcoin.

Enter Anita Posch: Podcast host,, author, non-profit founder and Bitcoin educator. Posch has a background of more than 20 years in web design and online entrepreneurship, and has made it her life’s mission to educate people who need Bitcoin the most. She has been on the ground working tirelessly, emphasizing the need for everyone, specifically women, to take control of their financial literacy through Bitcoin education and entrepreneurship.

I’m confident you will be inspired as you read her responses to my questions about how she is using Bitcoin education to empower more people around the world.

How did you first learn about Bitcoin and what specifically drew you to it? 

The first time I heard about Bitcoin was in 2011, I tweeted about it, but didn’t really get into it, because I read an article and concluded that it’s just another PayPal.

Well, it must have been a bad article.

In April 2017 I heard a talk at a conference about Bitcoin and open blockchains and their future impact on society and technology. This time, I was open and ready to learn something new. I had been an online entrepreneur and web designer for 20 years and was looking for new interesting topics as a basis for my work. I immediately understood that an uncensorable, collaborative, permissionless and open protocol to send value is a tool that can provide a level playing field for anyone globally.

I was definitely not able to verbalize this back then, because I had no clue how Bitcoin works, but my life experiences and my insights as a builder of online shops and marketplaces acted as some sort of internal compass to sense the groundbreaking importance of Bitcoin. This time, I wanted to be part of the development and decided to put all my efforts into understanding and learning to become a Bitcoin educator myself.

How do you see Bitcoin positively impacting youth in the countries you serve; Ghana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe? 

I have been working with my initiative, Bitcoin For Fairness, and from what I’ve learned, many young people realize how Bitcoin gives them a choice, an opportunity to participate in a global economy, to become free from financial oppression and lack of access to financial means in their home countries.

Take the people who live in Bitcoin Ekasi, for instance. I visited and worked with them in May 2022. Bitcoin Ekasi is a township in Mossel Bay, South Africa, where 11 shops and a taxi driver are accepting bitcoin now after being onboarded by community members. Many of the 5,000 inhabitants have no access to bank accounts or chose to unbank themselves because of the high fees and bureaucracy. Young people living in the township are supporting their community with knowledge and practical education on how they can facilitate Bitcoin.

The coaches there earn their salaries in bitcoin and spend it in the local shops. Recently, yet another shop asked to be added to the Bitcoin economy because of the high grade of security that bitcoin offers compared to keeping cash. A few months ago, the neighborhood’s supermarket, Pick n Pay, started accepting bitcoin, too. That means the shop owners can use their earned bitcoin to restock their shops without the need to convert to the national currency, which saves fees and hassle.

A growing number of young people see how they can earn bitcoin through content creation, like on our BTC podcasting platform. It’s free to host a podcast without losing your copyright (like on Anchor) and, at the same time, anyone can start earning bitcoin via Value4Value podcasting without the need to run their own Lightning nodes.

Value4Value means that the listeners can freely decide how many bitcoin, if any, they want to send to the host while listening to a podcast. As a podcaster myself, I saw the need for a platform that is not charging around $10 per month for podcast hosting, because it excludes many people from sharing their voices from the ground.

During my travels, especially to Ghana speaking at the first Pan-African Bitcoin conference, it was amazing to meet and witness how many young people are starting educational groups, for instance, the Bitcoin Cowries in Accra, Bitcoin Mountain in Cameroon or the women-focused Bitcoin Dada in Kenya. I’m currently working on an online mentorship program called “Crack The Orange” for newbies and community leaders to gain a wider understanding of Bitcoin to share it with their community members. With my non-profit initiative, Bitcoin For Fairness, we’re supporting young women to create their own educational group in Zambia.

The four African founders of Qala, a program designed to train the next generation of African Bitcoin and Lightning developers, are inspiring, visionary young people themselves. All these initiatives contribute to job and wealth creation and will have a positive network effect on the ground.

How do you typically respond to those who are dismissive of Bitcoin, especially those close to you (such as close friends, etc.)?

In the last few years, I have been trying to educate the naysayers on Twitter or other media platforms with arguments, facts and by sharing experiences of African and South American Bitcoin users on my podcast “The Anita Posch Show.”

I realized it’s not easily possible to win an argument if the respondent has made up their mind already. Every answer you give will be opposed with opinions and their own perception. I never tried to convince anyone. If people show up and are interested in the topic, I’ll explain and support. If not, then I won’t touch the topic. The same is true for my friends. Most of them have their own ideas about Bitcoin, and don’t take the time or interest to learn. A handful of my close friends have seeked my guidance and done the work. I think they are very content today.

In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?

At first, let the numbers speak. Of the 1.7 billion unbanked people around the world, 57% are women.

According to the American Economic Association:

“In the USA alone approximately 8.4 million US households are unbanked with an additional 24.2 million US households classified as underbanked. Black women are significantly more likely than Black men or any other group to be unbanked or to be underbanked. Further, we find limited wealth is more frequently cited by Black women as the main reason why they do not engage with the banking system.”

And according to WTW:

“There is a significant gender wealth gap between men and women at retirement. Upon retirement women globally are expected to accumulate only 74% of the wealth that men have.”

Seventy-five economies globally “still limit women’s rights to manage assets.” There are countries in which women are not allowed to own property or inherit it — they never will be owners of land that could be used as a security to apply for a loan or support their informal businesses. This is occurring mostly in countries in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific.

While women have been getting the same rights in many societies in recent decades, in general, women are still facing massive discrimination on the basis of gender. This inequality leads to exclusion from the financial system, because of a lack of wealth or because women can’t produce an ID, which is necessary to be banked.

Bitcoin is fair in so far as it does not discriminate. Anyone can use it without the need to show an ID or the need to be wealthy already. There is no minimum limit to use bitcoin. Anyone can earn bitcoin through their work. Earning bitcoin will become the standard.

By educating women and girls about Bitcoin, we can support them in closing the gender wealth gap, when we factor in that Bitcoin’s value has only appreciated in the long term. Nonetheless Bitcoin can be only one tool, it won’t magically close the wealth gap, because men have more resources now, that’s why they can earn or buy more bitcoin as well. That’s why it’s imperative to educate women and girls as early as possible as long as bitcoin is in its infancy, hence bringing education to the Global South especially for women, the queer community and human rights activists, is a strong focus of Bitcoin For Fairness.

With the recent closure of peer-to-peer (P2P) platform Paxful, what other options for buying and selling bitcoin have you found to be successful in countries where there are no centralized exchanges? 

There are several other P2P options to buy and sell bitcoin without the need to show your ID, which is an important privacy protection. They may not be accessible globally, that’s why real, on-the-ground, peer-to-peer exchange is the number one option in African countries. Another option are bitcoin vouchers or gift cards. And the best is to earn bitcoin, by either asking your employer or clients to pay you in bitcoin or creating valuable online content like a podcast or other media.

But a list of P2P exchange projects that I have found to be successful includes:

  • Hodl Hodl
  • Bisq
  • AgoraDesk
  • RoboSats
  • Peach Bitcoin
  • Noones

This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Margot Paez On Mitigating Climate Change, The Progressive Perspective And Bitcoin’s Representation Problem

Environmentalist Margot Paez describes her own Bitcoin journey and how inclusivity is not mere “woke ideology.”

As Bitcoiners, we often repeat the mantra “Bitcoin fixes this” and truly, it does solve many problems. The issue with this phrase is not whether Bitcoin fixes things, but asking, “for whom?” If we find ourselves in an echo chamber, then we’re gatekeeping the benefits of Bitcoin and what it can do for everyone.

Margot Paez is a brilliant environmentalist and an outspoken Bitcoiner. Paez received master’s degrees in physics and ethnomusicology and is currently finishing a PhD in civil engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She has proven to be one of the MVPs in Bitcoin due to her extensive research on the intersection of Bitcoin mining and energy usage. She continues to generously give her time and resources to provide an intricate framework for influencing bipartisan Bitcoin policy.

Paez delivers a unique perspective that is unmatched in the Bitcoin space. In October 2022, Paez spoke on a panel appropriately titled, “Can Bitcoin Help Save The Planet?” at the U.K. Bitcoin Conference in Scotland. Not only did she contribute jaw-dropping facts related to Bitcoin mining and the environment, but she did so in a way that was eloquent and accessible. She is a passionate Bitcoiner in a community where various subcultures can, at times, obscure important truths. Paez does an incredible job at helping to make Bitcoin for everyone.

She and I had the opportunity to discuss a few hot topics, such as Bitcoin mining and energy consumption, whether Bitcoin is truly as bad as many progressives think it is and whether or not there is a male-dominated skew in Bitcoin.

How did you first learn about Bitcoin and what specifically drew you to it?

I first learned about Bitcoin in the early 2010’. It was either a Slashdot post or when WikiLeaks decided to use Bitcoin after (Julian) Assange was shut out of the banking system. There were Bitcoiners at the “Audit The Fed” rally that happened at Occupy Los Angeles. There were two things from that event that I remember. First, someone had a Bitcoin sticker on their belongings, which I photographed, and second, people burning dollar bills, which I also filmed.

Occupy brought people from many different backgrounds together through their mutual hatred of the banks. Sometime before 2014, I actually tried mining bitcoin, but really didn’t get the point and thought it was just another random, open-source project. I was interested in hardware and mesh networks at the time and didn’t think there was much more to money than some people not having enough of it.

This all changed in 2018 when I saw content creators being deplatformed. Some were creators who I was sympathetic toward and others were people I did not like at all. I learned quickly that to be able to accept payments online, you really had only two options: PayPal or Stripe. If you lost access to either of these, you could be completely shut out of the payment-processing network. Once you are on the bad list, you stay there for about five years, and credit card companies manage these lists. In response to this, I built a content creator platform that incorporated BTCPay Server. This forced me to really understand how to send and receive money using bitcoin and that is really when I started to take Bitcoin seriously. It was a long journey, but part of it was that I had no foundation in economics or monetary history to build from early on. I was just a naive computer nerd who loved the freedom and openness of the internet. Bitcoin, to me, helps keep the internet free.

As an environmentalist, what is your perspective on how Bitcoin, specifically bitcoin mining, positively or negatively affects the environment?

Bitcoin is a technology. It can do good things, it can do bad things. What we decide to do with it is what determines its positive or negative effects on the planet and humanity. Some miners chose to grow very fast without considering their environmental impact. Thankfully, the way proof-of-work functions is that it has a built-in mechanism to keep this high-time preference in check. So, while we have seen miners make poor choices in the past, I think that miners are starting to realize that they will perish if they grow too fast. As a result, there is hope that Bitcoin can have a positive impact on the environment. Our existing monetary and economic system does not work this way. The existing system only prioritizes the present over the future. It promotes growing fast and maximizing profits at all costs. There’s no mechanism to wipe out the players that did not think long term or who took on too much risk. More importantly, with proof of work, there is no bailout for those miners that fail.

Due to the fact that bitcoin miners are forced to find the cheapest electricity, feel a downward pressure due to the difficulty adjustment and the near-perfect competition market dynamics of mining, they are driven toward waste energy. This turns out to be very helpful for the environment because a lot of these energy sources are bio-methane like in landfills, livestock waste and so on. Anthropogenic methane is the number-two source of global warming, second only to carbon dioxide. If we are trying to prevent tipping points, then it makes sense that we would want to try to buy ourselves some time and reduce the warming potential over the short term. Bitcoin miners are highly flexible and location agnostic. They can monetize the early phase of a methane capture system that takes the methane gas and converts it to electricity.

In a market economy, referring to solar and wind power generators that have to compete with each other when they produce power, how are they going to survive if the price of their product is driven down to zero or even negative in some markets? Bitcoin miners can help sustain these renewable power generators as a secondary source of revenue that boosts their return on investment. Some companies are already trying to do this. The issue is educating the energy industry on the use cases of bitcoin mining and that takes time. The anti-bitcoin political environment and the cryptocurrency scams like FTX make potential partners wary of engaging with miners. This is unfortunate because this is a missed opportunity for meeting our decarbonization goals.

Electrical grids that are transitioning from conventional thermal power generators like coal and natural gas to renewable energy sources like solar and wind need demand-side flexibility. Bitcoin miners are useful and can help stabilize the grid so that more wind and solar can come online.

How do you typically respond to those who are dismissive of Bitcoin? How do you concisely present the case for Bitcoin from a progressive point of view?

I have had very little success in my own circle of friends. They are all too dogmatic in their beliefs about the economic system to think that bitcoin could be of any good to them. In fact, I still hide all my Bitcoin stickers and Bitcoin Magazine copies when a non-Bitcoin friend comes over. I’m probably a coward, but I just don’t have that many friends in real life, I can’t afford to lose them over Bitcoin. The best argument I can give is to people who are not as emotionally engaged with our economic problems and are willing to listen to a differing opinion: Bitcoin has social value to anyone who has ever found themselves locked out of the banking system or had their bank deposits frozen and stolen from them. It has the ability to run on wasted energy, meaning it can help us mitigate methane emissions and buy us time. If you don’t like what you see, then you should at least know that, fundamentally, Bitcoin has no ideology and anyone can participate. The more individuals using bitcoin who care about climate change and the environment means the likelihood that Bitcoin will do good for the climate and the planet overall increases. Bitcoin is for anyone, Bitcoin is for enemies.

In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?

I think when Bitcoiners show up saying, "Bitcoin is for everyone! It’s inclusive! It’s for people in the Global South!" and the people you are trying to convince see a room full of American and European white men, it raises questions about whether Bitcoin really is for anyone. Part of this is a messaging problem. Part of it is that finance and technology are, unfortunately, male-dominated spaces.

However, if Bitcoin is truly for anyone or everyone, then we need to see more people representing Bitcoin who are women, who are people of color, who are LGBTQ+, who are disabled and so on. I know some people out there are offended by this and think it’s some "woke ideology," but it really isn’t. Bitcoin adoption is going to struggle if we don’t have the right ambassadors. It’s just facts. Facts hurt fragile egos, sometimes, but that doesn’t make them less true.

This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

CFTC Commissioner On Innovation, Commodities And Misconceptions About Bitcoin Regulation

CFTC Commissioner Summer Mersigner discusses the inevitability of innovation and clears up the agency’s role in bitcoin regulation.

In light of recent events, many in the Bitcoin community are looking for regulatory clarity now more than ever. Questions such as “who should regulate Bitcoin?” and “will the U.S. allow Bitcoin innovation or pursue a central bank digital currency (CBDC)?” are at the top of the list.

To learn more about the regulatory landscape for Bitcoin-focused businesses, I sat down with Summer Mersinger, the commissioner for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), to get her thoughts on these issues and more. To further understand her perspective, we started with a brief background that explored her personal interest in Bitcoin. This is vital to the conversation because before commissioners can contribute meaningful policy to the Bitcoin space, Bitcoin must be understood.

Mersinger has been serving at the CFTC since 2022 after being appointed by President Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and later earned a law degree from the Columbus School of Law in Washington, DC. Since that time, she has spent over 20 years on Capitol Hill in a variety of positions. These range from working as an aide to South Dakota Senator John Thune, to advocating for financial technology organizations as a senior vice president at lobbying firm Smith-Free Group.

When she is off the clock, Mersinger spends time with her husband and four children; two teenage daughters and two elementary-aged sons. She describes herself as a huge animal lover, which stems from being raised on a farm. She said that she was always surrounded by animals, and it’s a habit she continues to this day.

Below are her thoughts regarding a variety of topics surrounding Bitcoin.

How did you first learn about Bitcoin and what specifically drew you to it?

Although I cannot recall the exact timing of when I first learned about Bitcoin, I can say that what drew me to it was the technology involved.

The CFTC, where I serve, regulates trading in derivatives products that are used for price discovery and risk management purposes. The CFTC is a technology-neutral regulator, which means, in practice, we do not view any one technology as better than any other technology. And admittedly, as regulators, we are sometimes skeptical of the new and unknown.

But a big part of our job is to make sure that all existing and emerging technologies can compete on a level playing field. Our governing statute, the Commodity Exchange Act, specifically identifies one of its purposes as being to promote responsible innovation and fair competition. In light of the opportunities that innovative and groundbreaking blockchain technology presents for the derivatives markets we regulate, my focus is on assuring that we at the CFTC take that mission seriously.

Why do you think it is important that Bitcoin is regulated by the CFTC as a commodity?

This is one of my favorite questions to answer because it provides an opportunity to clear up a common misconception.

The CFTC is a market regulator of commodity futures (along with other types of derivatives), not of the commodities themselves. I often use the example of the cattle markets to explain the significance of this distinction. The CFTC has regulatory oversight with respect to cattle futures contracts traded on our registered exchanges to provide price discovery and hedging opportunities regarding cattle in the U.S. We are knowledgeable and well equipped to oversee the cattle futures markets.

However, we are not knowledgeable or well-equipped to oversee cattle as a commodity. Cattle auction houses and livestock stockyards are best left to the experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Understanding the distinction between the commodity futures markets and the underlying commodity market is critical to understanding the current regulatory environment for digital assets, such as bitcoin. As it stands now, like all other commodities, the CFTC regulates the trading of bitcoin futures contracts. But the CFTC does not regulate bitcoin itself or the bitcoin spot markets, which are akin to the cattle auction houses and livestock stockyards in my cattle example. Unlike in my cattle example, there is currently no federal regulator of bitcoin or bitcoin spot markets.

It is true that the CFTC does currently have enforcement authority to pursue claims of fraud and manipulation in commodity markets. With that authority, our agency does have the ability to bring anti-fraud and anti-manipulation charges in the buying and selling of bitcoin. However, that authority is exercised after the fact. By the time we act, the fraud and/or manipulation has already occurred. I believe that filling the gap in federal oversight of digital asset commodity markets, like bitcoin, is a task best left to the legislative process through Congressional authority.

How do you typically respond to those who are dismissive of Bitcoin?

Whether you embrace or dismiss the utility of Bitcoin, it is hard to argue against the benefits of blockchain technology. These benefits go far beyond cryptocurrencies, and regardless of whether or not you become a Bitcoin adopter, I believe that the underlying technology will have a positive impact on society.

In the derivatives world, we have seen this scenario play out before. For decades, almost all commodity futures trading was done through “open outcry.” That is, traders would literally be yelling (hence the term “open outcry”) and gesturing wildly, and to consummate trades, they would write them down on slips of paper. The pits were hot, loud and chaotic, but this was the only way most CFTC-regulated products were traded.

Today, we have electronic markets. Legislative and regulatory changes a little over 20 years ago allowed electronic markets to develop alongside open outcry markets and compete. At first, the incumbent scheme was dominant, then the two ways of trading coexisted, and finally the more efficient technology gained widespread adoption.

Thus, we simply need to look back at our history to see that we have successfully allowed substantial technological innovations in the past, which over time have made our regulated derivatives markets more efficient. I believe we are nearing a similar inflection point for blockchain technology.

In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?

We need to close the gender gap everywhere, both in Bitcoin interest and adoption, as well as traditional finance. With a population split roughly 50/50 male to female, every sector of the economy should logically reflect an even split. If it does not, clearly there is an opportunity to do better. Staying on my focus surrounding the underlying blockchain technology, I am very concerned about a gender gap within the science and technology field. There is no reason for this gap to exist and we have to ask ourselves why it does.

Again, with a mostly-evenly split population, lopsided participation by one gender is very likely a symptom of a more serious underlying condition. Looking back once again to the history of “open outcry” in the derivatives markets, it took several decades before the first woman traded futures in the pits during the 1960s. We can, and must, improve this time around.

This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Lyn Alden On Finding Bitcoin, Skepticism And Inclusion: ‘Money Is For Everyone’

Investment strategist Lyn Alden discusses her own Bitcoin journey, encountering skeptics and the industry’s male skew.

A recent survey conducted by OnMessage Inc. in the State of Texas found that men are 30% more likely to own bitcoin than women. And most of those who have attended a Bitcoin meetup will have noticed a majority male attendance. In the Bitcoin space we often say “Bitcoin is for everyone,” however, the statistics show a lopsided participation.

But Bitcoin is for everyone, right? So, what can we do to make Bitcoin culture more accessible to women?

There are many potential paths but the one that I am choosing to pursue is to learn from and tell the stories of women in bitcoin. And where better to start than with Lyn Alden, the founder and CEO of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy?

With a background in finance and engineering, Alden brings a unique and humble perspective to the Bitcoin space. Her primary emphasis is on analyzing macroeconomics, investment research and monetary systems. She has been interviewed on numerous podcasts, including “What Bitcoin Did,” “The Pomp Podcast,” “Coin Stories” and others. Her work has been featured or cited in The Wall Street Journal, Time’s Money Magazine and the Huffington Post, among many other publications.

Below, find Alden’s responses to some questions about her journey and the evolution of Bitcoin culture.

How did you first learn about Bitcoin and what specifically drew you to it?

I first heard about it back in 2010 or so, when someone I knew was mining it on her gaming computer. It seemed neat to me at the time and I planned to look into it more, but life was hectic and I never got around to it. Then, a few years later, I came across it again, and while it still seemed neat, the exchanges looked rather sketchy. Once again, I planned to look more into it but due to the complexities of life, I put it on the back burner.

During the 2017 bitcoin bull run, I was running an investment research firm and so I finally took the time to dig deeper into it, and wrote a public article about it in November of that year. My article discussed the merits of the technology, but displayed skepticism regarding the price after the euphoric price surge of the year, and I passed on it as an investment. This ended up being a good idea, since bitcoin crashed and then chopped along sideways for the next two and a half years. However, this time I didn’t repeat my prior mistake — I kept researching it during the bear market, and ultimately bought it, and then kept learning and buying more.

What have been your colleagues’ reactions to your belief in Bitcoin? And how have you seen this change over time?

I don’t make a general habit of talking about it too much. One of my friends became interested in it partly due to me, but most people I know are relatively uninterested in it. However, I have a large audience for my public writings, and so I used that platform to share what I’ve researched about bitcoin, among every other topic that I write about.

Some of my audience was (and still is) skeptical about it or outright dislikes the fact that I’ve been writing about it so much for years, and they would prefer that I not do so. Other parts of the audience were happy about it and learned a lot from it. Most people can’t spend a thousand hours looking into something like Bitcoin, and so instead, I can do that as part of my profession, and write about it so that the knowledge-sharing scales a bit better. And by doing so, I also attracted a readership of people who have been into Bitcoin longer than me, who might be interested in my articles about other subjects.

How do you typically respond to those who are dismissive of Bitcoin? 

People only have so much bandwidth. There are probably a lot of things I am dismissive about that I shouldn’t be, but I can’t be hyper-focused on everything at once. As an analyst of macroeconomics and monetary systems and someone who also has an engineering background, Bitcoin falls well within my scope of research and focus, but for many people it does not. It’s easy to dismiss, especially for people in developed markets with reasonably well-functioning banking systems. To many of them, it seems like a solution in search of a problem. Many of them are focused on important things that I am dismissive about instead.

The only thing that doesn’t make sense to me is people who very much dislike it and yet are not knowledgeable about it. That’s usually an ideological problem, or an ego problem, or a misunderstanding about it related to energy and the associated moral panic that the media has often fanned the flames of.

In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?

I view bitcoin as a very useful form of global money, and money is for everyone. It’s as simple as that. Therefore, it’s natural to want to include people who are under-represented in Bitcoin spaces.

At the very least, if for example, a Bitcoin meetup is 80% male or more, it’s worth asking the questions of why that is. It’s not necessarily a negative or surprising thing; interest in sound money economics and computer science are both areas that have skewed male for a while, statistically. So, I’m aware of that starting point when it comes to Bitcoin. But still, we can ask why it’s the case that men seem to find this technology more relevant than women do, and observe that most content producers are male.

Some women feel kind of out of place in male-dominated spaces, just like how some men feel kind of out of place in female-dominated spaces. Like somehow this is not "for them" even though they’re not in any way prohibited. For people (often men) that make educational material regarding Bitcoin, are they understandably making those materials for people like themselves, and therefore perhaps missing some ways of sharing the information that might be more conducive to women or other people that are not necessarily like themselves?

While I don’t think it’s a problem for any given space, including Bitcoin spaces, to happen to be rather male dominated (or in other cases, female dominated), I do think it’s worth thinking about under-represented groups and seeing what can be done to include more people in general. After all, most people who like Bitcoin think it will continue to grow in importance and touch more peoples’ lives over time, and is for everyone. The challenge and opportunity, then, is to find more ways to communicate that idea to many different types of people.

When I first heard Alden speak at Bitcoin 2021 in Miami, I remember thinking that she is absolutely brilliant and communicates with a humility that is uncommon in any sector. What is more impressive than her intellectual prowess is her commitment to financial literacy education, especially as it relates to Bitcoin. Her writing has impacted countless people for the better, helping to grow the adoption of Bitcoin.

A huge shoutout to Alden for taking the time to give her thoughts on this topic, and for anyone who’s curious, Bitcoin is, in fact, for everyone.

This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.