Black Empowerment with Crypto

Accelerating adoption of crypto is raising significant questions about how it can play a role in improving the economy at large. Not only does crypto have a diversity problem, it is also woefully misunderstood in broader communities, including communities of color. Moreover, as we enter a new era of a Biden Administration, from a financial services and fintech perspective, the progressive wing of the Democratic party is going to be focused on delivering results and improving financial opportunities for underrepresented communities. How can crypto transform economic opportunities for people of color everywhere? 

Joining us this week to explore these issues and more is Cleve Mesidor, the founder of the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain. A Washington insider, she served as an Obama Presidential Appointee, a senior staffer in Congress, and the leadership of national political campaigns. She is also the author of The CLEVOLUTION: My Quest for Justice in politics & Crypto. 

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Jeremy Allaire: Hello, I'm Jeremy Allaire and welcome to The Money Movement, a show where we explore the issues and ideas driving this brave new world of digital currency and blockchains

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Jeremy Allaire: So accelerating adoption of crypto is raising significant questions about how it can play a role in improving the economy at large.

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Jeremy Allaire: Not only descriptor have a diversity problem that also is woefully misunderstood in broader communities, including communities of color.

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Jeremy Allaire: And now as we enter this new era of the Bible administration from a financial services and fintech perspective.

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Jeremy Allaire: The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is going to be focused on delivering results and improving financial opportunities for underrepresented communities. How can crypto transform economic Connor opportunities for people of color everywhere.

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Jeremy Allaire: Joining us this week to explore these issues and more his cleverness adore founder of the National Policy Network of women of color in blockchain.

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Jeremy Allaire: A Washington insider she served as an Obama presidential nominee, a senior staffer in Congress and the leadership of a

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Jeremy Allaire: Number of national political campaigns. She's also author of the clever solution. My quest for justice in politics and crypto welcome clever. It's wonderful to have you here today.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I'm thrilled to be here.

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Jeremy Allaire: Excellent, excellent. So, so much. We're going to talk about today. I'm very excited for this conversation. I want to start actually a little bit with

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Jeremy Allaire: With your story. I love to start with people story and you know specifically you know your journey here your journey into crypto the intersection of

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Jeremy Allaire: The themes that you've been talking about. And we're going to touch on your book, but I want to just start maybe with with with with your journey here and and and we'll go from there.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah. Thank you for having me on. I am. I've watched the work that you're doing it so cool. So keep up the great work globally and in the US.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But I love to start like this because in the in the crypto space we can estimate how much you know our stories I joined into the space matter to people and actually helped to actually bring people into the fold.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But I first learned it through it. I first learned about cryptocurrency when I was working in the Obama administration as a political appointee.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: In 2013 a friend had a Bitcoin project and asked me to help him. And I learned about bitcoin, you know, help with the project. It was interesting. Then I saw the movie dope. Some of your audience may remember that. I love that movie.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Well, and so it was interesting, but didn't really motivate me until about 2015 2015 2016 the conversation expanded beyond Bitcoin

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And it actually shifted to the possibilities of the technology intellectual property pop protections. You know, I didn't see management.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Privacy, you know, I'm, I'm sure your audience is wondering whether they were the accents from I am actually from Haiti from the Caribbean. I was born in Haiti moved to the US when I was eight. I was raised here.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But when you when you, when you think of things like self sovereign identity that actually matters in the Caribbean where so many people don't even have ID.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So, so that's the journey that brought me into this space. So when people say, why are you here. I say I'm here for the economic revolution.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know, we know so many people across the world. I think 1.7 billion unbanked under bank. So for me, that's the prism I come to crypto, it's looking at it as a technology a currency to help solve some of the problems for the communities that I can connect that to

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Jeremy Allaire: Yeah, that's really profound I I have my own small Haiti connection. I spent a lot of time studying and learning about political change in Haiti, I met john paul frond aristide and

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Jeremy Allaire: The poorest of the poor his book was obviously a really influential book for me, a long time ago. But, um, so that's that's really cool.

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Jeremy Allaire: Yeah i mean i think you know this this you know connection to people who need economic transformation is such a profound part of this. And I think, you know, a lot of what has drawn a lot of people into this industry into this movement.

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Jeremy Allaire: Has been the belief that, you know, digital currency and blockchains could bring more people into the economic system and enable more people to participate in that. And I feel like, you know, you're obviously in in the Heart of the Beast of policy there in DC.

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Jeremy Allaire: And there's a lot of passion for these issues, but it feels like a lot of you know a lot of policymakers political leaders.

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Jeremy Allaire: They don't really connect to that they don't really understand that and

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Jeremy Allaire: You know, I'd be interested just just at a high level, to hear you know how you talk about that.

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Jeremy Allaire: If you're sitting down with with a representative in congress and they're saying, Isn't this just a bunch of, you know,

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Jeremy Allaire: Dudes trading and making money speculating on this thing. And isn't this just, you know, a criminal thing or, you know, the collapse the classic, you know, fun, yeah. How do you, how do you respond to them and and how do you connect to this more fundamental set of ideas that you're pursuing

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah, I think for me, you know, I actually think the EQUIP as part of the crypto community. We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of what we have not done in terms of educating people

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know for myself. It took me two years to get this thing and I run and I published a weekly newsletter more so for me, it goes out to thousands more so for me just to keep up.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So, you know, this is a hard thing to understand which we know and that's a big barrier to adoption.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yes, I worked on Capitol Hill. I worked for two members of Congress. So, and I actually focus on that my caucus. The Black Caucus Hispanic Caucus and Asians Asian Pacific American caucus.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And they are present, do the lens that days you crypto through is a list that you so

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: That's what they've heard about. And you know, when they, when you look at big tech and these communities.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And these members who represent communities of color, you know, they think of crypto like big tech right you know that they have to protect consumers from it. So,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: What I do is I try to demystify crypto and I tried to, you know, soften the language of crypto by we all love the story of Tashi but quite frankly it scares the hell out of

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know, elected officials and and we need to remember in crypto that most of the members of Congress, the majority party 70% of them, if not 75 are over 70 over 60 so therefore it's not a matter of as, as a matter of the relationship with money.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Right.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So their relationship with money is different. And so, so for me I approach it from the conversation about, you know,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Money is more inclusive when we have the most actions available to consumers when I spoke. I actually a basic definitions of cryptocurrency

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And not do not go into technical definitions and and i also you know dot focus on the members, the members will only take you so far because

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: They have so many priorities that with leadership. Yeah, well, we need to do a lot of work is with congressional staff again.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And you know legislative systems juggle multiple issues so they don't have the time to sit here and and hear you talk, tell them they don't understand it. So it's really some with members of Congress and their staff. I tried to

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Find find out from the Financial Services side, what are their problems. What are they issues. How can I help them, you know, solve a bridge the gap of some department. They have then they'll be more likely to say, okay, let's talk about this crypto thing.

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Jeremy Allaire: Yeah, yeah, no, it makes a lot of sense, obviously.

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Jeremy Allaire: Today is a significant day because it's the start of a new kind of comprehensive Democratic Party governance in Congress and and and in the White House.

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Jeremy Allaire: You know, I think we

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Jeremy Allaire: The progressive wing of the party and and the moderate wing of the party, you know, both, I think care a lot about financial inclusion.

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Jeremy Allaire: They care a lot ultimately about, you know, the kind of infrastructure development. That's a big theme.

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Jeremy Allaire: That that I think people care about competitiveness of the US workforce, what are, what, what do you believe that critical themes are to be focused on in educating members of Congress and, in particular, of course, the staff. What do you think the key themes are that we need to focus on

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah. It's a new day. A new Congress a new administration, you know, this is the most diverse Congress and the most diverse administration ever

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And and we have a lot of new members who are very excited. And also, a lot of the regulatory agencies and the executive branch their leadership. So changing, right. So, so, for me, you know, we have to look at this thing from

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The Community has to be less aggressive aggressive. The biggest challenge for the executive branch, the legislative branch.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Over the next four years of the next two years will be economic recovery. We need to demonstrate how does crypto fit into economic

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Discovery, you know, we can't come at it. Oh, this was all you know this is the solution design that we have to look at what is, you know, the financial pan. You know, Biden has announced

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know this 1.9 you know trillion dollar plan, you know, we know where Congress is going with legit of legislation. So if we

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Stay focused on economic recovery. And if we look at the buckets of economic you know strategies that they have and we look at opportunities for pilots and working groups and look at opportunities to actually integrate crypto in a way that's none disruptive.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I know it goes against our nature. But, but, you know,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: For Biden. The coven and the economy will will definitely Bag him down for members of Congress as well. So for us, if we can't

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know fit in, where they are in is going to be very hard to even have the conversation. I know some people are upset that Janet Yellen, you know, indicated that she's concerned about Alyssa, ease of use of Pepto

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: That's the lens. They're looking at and in Congress is all about relationships and it's all about building those relationships and we have to do better at that. And once we build those relationships. Once we actually help them to

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: We have to come up the solutions of how we fit into this economical because we conversation then things will be a lot smoother. I think

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Jeremy Allaire: Yeah, that makes that makes sense. I mean, I think.

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Jeremy Allaire: There are a couple of important lenses here. You know, I think one is the the sort of

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Jeremy Allaire: Investing in the next level of infrastructure for the country, which is a really critical piece to make the country more competitive to ultimately make the, the, the, the economic system itself ready for the 21st century to use a kind of cliche.

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Jeremy Allaire: But and and i and i wonder if that can become a key part of the message, which is, hey, this is you know blockchain infrastructure digital currency.

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Jeremy Allaire: The opportunities that creates is going to be the foundation for the global economic system. We need to make sure that the best opportunities exist in the world for doing that here in the United States.

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Jeremy Allaire: Not, not just happening in China, not just happening in other markets that are being more progressive with this and and really kind of help you know help the administration and Congress understand that. Yeah.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I think you'll buy it on infrastructure as a priority. And if you remember when Trump first came on board.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: There was a lot of talk about an infrastructure bill. It does a lot of talk about doing this, but then the bottleneck happened right once that's conflict. Nobody's going to give anybody a win.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So the infrastructure bill never materialized. We have an opportunity here and and your way this infrastructure bill. I'm of when we came into the Obama administration, you know, we had to figure out how to create jobs and it was and we added innovation and entrepreneurship.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So as

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Soon as we're looking at infrastructure bill is all about creating new innovation jobs. It's all about empowering small businesses in different ways. So these small entities that hire you know

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Less than five people making sure that they have the tools and I totally agree that's a direct way where we can actually talk about cryptocurrency basic things like making sure that small businesses.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Can actually accept cryptocurrency and in a way, and we have the infrastructure already in place in a way that that is very

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: low risk to them, but also in terms of making sure that these you know jobs we invest these new jobs were creating that there's funding for training about financial literacy training.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And workforce training around cryptocurrency. Those are well within you know the purview of the crypto community to collaborate

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Jeremy Allaire: Yeah yeah

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Jeremy Allaire: I see that as well. I think

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Jeremy Allaire: You know, as, as you as you've kind of come come through this journey and I'm actually interested just coming a little bit back to to your own story just

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Jeremy Allaire: Talk a little bit about about the book about some of the critical themes that you explore in the book and and maybe just start there. And then, then I want to dive more into some of the kind of diversity and inclusion issues that face this industry and relate to policy issues as well.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah. So the book is about my quest for justice and politics and crypto is is that the name is the revolution which a friend came up with. It wasn't me.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But it's really about distribution of these two, you know, these two different different you know

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Spaces that I come from, I have a deep Washington background working on Capitol Hill work for the Obama administration worked on national campaigns, you know,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Quick those new I again first introduced to it in 2013 guardian most want 2015 so it's interesting, these communities have they they different

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Very, very similar. I swear to you the craziness of Washington, you know,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: How polarized and siloed. It is and how you know people form different camps. Oh my god. Crypto is exactly the same way, which is one of the reasons why it's very hard, you know, Washington in the crypto communities to talk at each other instead of with each other.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But the book focuses on these experiences. Because for me, whether it was, you know, in politics or now in crypto, you know, social justice and economic justice is what

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I'm focused on right so I even remember when I worked at CNN and when I went to Howard University. I'm webbing Howard because

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The Vice President is a Howard alarm. So we're happy to be on the map, but

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But I am when I left Howard University. I went, I went to work for CNN, CNN Washington bureau which focus on politics. And I remember, Frank. SESNO as our beauty for the time and I had a conversation with him. And, you know, he talked about

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Media being a public service and I have been thinking. Yes. That's why I'm here. And when I went into politics. It was about a public service. So, so

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: It was frustrating and politics, because there was a lot of problems I we could not solve. You can't legislate some things you can't lie to build to solve some things

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I so when they left Washington was because I want to be. I want to be part of the other side. How do I make these changes that also difficult from a

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: legislative and regulatory perspective, the crypto has allowed me to, you know, be a revolutionary be a disrupter and actually

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: No naka which back and say, Hey, here's some of the solutions and leverage some of the relationships.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And but. So those are some of the teams were a big part of it is obviously my journey from being born in Haiti to, you know, moving to the US and integrating into the US but also, you know, I talked about being, you know, an entrepreneur, right.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Being part of the new small businesses in America with all these micro enterprises and then talk about, you know, I even talked about in the PPP loan.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: We, you know, good intentions, you know, but the the federal government has to start thinking differently about what a what a 21st century small business is

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Right, so, so when we look at micro enterprises innovative enterprises, the PPP was the first effort to actually try to integrate, you know, independent contractors, you know, startups entrepreneurs, Dave. And, you know, allowed fintech

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Jeremy Allaire: Yeah, and

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: What is the bait. But that's an area we have to do better. I've met with the Small Business Administration, you know, they

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Say this small the house, small business committee, they are they excited about innovating. The especially things like the seven a loan program. We have to do better to actually make sure that

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: As we actually go into this innovation economy that small businesses micro enterprises have what they need to be resource and successful. So that's that that's a short synopsis of some of the stuff I cover.

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Jeremy Allaire: Yeah, very interesting. Um, you know, as, as you think about this kind of communities of color financial inclusion and crypto, you know, what do you, what do you see as the as the primary ways that crypto can be a positive a positive capability for these communities.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah, yeah. So, so obviously when we talk about financial inclusion, we're talking about the 1.7 you know billion globally, right, we're talking about the 55 million here in the US one under, under bank.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But that is just a baseline right so so financial inclusion is not the goal. It's where we need to be just a level the playing field. That's what we have to go back. We have to go beyond that economic opportunity, you know, it cannot make equity and even economic justice, you know,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: One of the, one of the things I loved him us about is what is the problem. What is the problem. Crypto is trying to solve and

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Going back to this relationship with money, depending on where you are in crypto your relationship with money that will actually inform how you view the technology.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And and and how you're building on it. So for me, coming from, you know, a community of color coming from an economically disadvantaged community. I grew up in New York City. I grew up in Queens. My, my, you know, for the most part, they will probably middle class. But, you know,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The challenges. I want to solve up with a relates back to financial inclusion, I would. I love the idea that we can leverage crypto to actually fit some of that gap to bridge the gap, you know, crypto can actually

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Give access to financial services in a way that the traditional system did not

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But I will say, when you look at where we are right now in the crypto community.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Where we've actually been successful in doing this is a board. My way inflation is high, where, you know, Venezuela is a great case right

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Argentina and others. I know soco has a footprint globally is doing some great work.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And so, you know, there are some places where crypto works. Again, you know, you see a lot of focus on the continent of Africa, because again, you know, Brazil, India, because of this issue of inflation.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: It's very difficult here where Cash is talking where people are really still, you know, have confidence in the traditional financial system so

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know, I guess that's my long winded way to say we still have to prove. We still have to demonstrate that crypto can actually bridge that financial inclusion gap.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: When we have to look back at what are some of the projects were building. There's so much focus on, you know, bitcoin ETF as a person who early on.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Owns Bitcoin was an early big I'm all for that. But when you look at the marketplace, the needs of the marketplace or even the priorities of today's consumers, you know,

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: In crypto, we have to do. We have to invest more in terms of educating in terms of financial literacy and also in terms of outreach and engagement.

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The spaces in its infancy. So, you know, we put too much pressure on us as a community, but the spaces isn't infancy. And so, so sometimes we forget that the whole world doesn't know and love crypto we forget

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Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: That the whole world, it doesnt sit at conferences, talking about, you know, all of these, you know, technical aspects of it. So, so we have to do a better job to connect to the marketplace and financial inclusion, we need to do better.

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Jeremy Allaire: What are the questions I wanted to ask you, related to that is, you know, with financial inclusion and and creating economic opportunities. I think part of the, the, the very specific

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Jeremy Allaire: You know, sort of approach that Bitcoin itself presents is, you know, is as essentially as a savings technology. It's a way to sort of

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Jeremy Allaire: You know, put savings into something that is non inflationary that you know you know kind of gives you a way to store value that's, you know, not just traditionally in the banking sector and

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Jeremy Allaire: I think for for many individuals, you know, people can take some amount of their savings and do that you're now seeing obviously the black rocks of the world. The fidelity's of the world, you know,

00:33:36.930 --> 00:33:43.230
Jeremy Allaire: You know, big, big institutions huge amounts of, you know, even, you know, insurance companies, other things that are starting to do it.

00:33:43.650 --> 00:33:51.630
Jeremy Allaire: But part of the democratization of this is that this is something that you just need to download a piece of software or if you get cash app.

00:33:52.110 --> 00:34:04.890
Jeremy Allaire: You know you you can you can put $50 you know into this and safely store it and and so I wonder from an education perspective in a financial literacy perspective and

00:34:05.550 --> 00:34:08.460
Jeremy Allaire: Does the crypto community need to do a better job.

00:34:08.970 --> 00:34:15.990
Jeremy Allaire: educating people were the idea of buying something like this and holding something like this as a savings technology might be

00:34:16.290 --> 00:34:24.300
Jeremy Allaire: Really alien to them because they're certainly not hearing that from their community own bank. They're not hearing that when they go to down the street.

00:34:25.290 --> 00:34:42.000
Jeremy Allaire: But these are you know communities that actively use every advanced technology that there is they actively are, you know, using all the advancements of the internet. Do you think that that's. Do you see that as as as a key as a key goal for us in terms of education.

00:34:42.660 --> 00:34:47.070
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah, I think the store value is one of the aspects that's most interesting about

00:34:48.120 --> 00:34:58.230
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Adobe baby. And that's why you mentioned a lot of the financial services companies are, you know, are in fidelity was early in you know daily diamond has turned around.

00:34:59.400 --> 00:35:13.410
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And so, and then you see in PayPal and definitely catch them so so for me I tell people, especially you know when when people do think of Bitcoin is the way to attract people in right if they

00:35:13.410 --> 00:35:13.740
Jeremy Allaire: Just

00:35:13.890 --> 00:35:26.610
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The things and get them then wait. But we have to be concerned about that as well, too, because we, you know, we don't want to spam people to bitcoin, which has a high price I tell them

00:35:26.910 --> 00:35:32.520
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: bitcoins like late you can put Bitcoin on layaway right you can just buy a little at a time.

00:35:33.000 --> 00:35:41.130
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But we don't want people to lose their savings or to lose you know the little money that they have, which is why the financial literacy comes into play.

00:35:41.400 --> 00:35:50.130
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So for me, when I talk to people. I encourage them to buy cryptocurrency I ate, because bitcoin so sexy. I agree to start with Bitcoin

00:35:50.520 --> 00:36:02.280
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I actually point them to catch up because most people have a tablet count. I tell them by $25 worth of Bitcoin. Right. No one's going to be upset if they lose $25

00:36:02.430 --> 00:36:04.530
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And we put a not going to lose $25

00:36:04.770 --> 00:36:18.210
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But at least once they see a return, they'll increase that I actually know somebody who, you know, he actually first learned about cryptocurrency during an event I did for black history month on Capitol Hill.

00:36:18.510 --> 00:36:27.270
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And this is a great story. He shared the story that you know he he got enamored by Bitcoin he works for the federal government's I won't say which agency.

00:36:27.540 --> 00:36:36.540
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And drink Hoeven they allow the government allowed employee federal employees to actually be able to take up to $100,000 out of their federal account.

00:36:37.560 --> 00:36:40.320
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: We took $100,000 and put it into bitcoin

00:36:41.910 --> 00:36:49.950
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So like two weeks ago. He called me and said, thank you. Because when when bitcoin and 40 he he bought Bitcoin of like

00:36:50.490 --> 00:37:03.600
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I think was like 40 $500 in one. So this dollar value is exciting. We but we have to talk about it differently. We have to encourage people to buy $25 which is a hard thing for people in in crypto to do because we just like

00:37:03.870 --> 00:37:07.890
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: That is we declare that they should be smarter. They should know people

00:37:08.760 --> 00:37:17.550
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: will join obama administration and one of the biggest successes, his first term when people who donated $25 they donate $5 they showed up, but

00:37:17.850 --> 00:37:28.830
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: It's a volunteer. Every day they knocked on doors because that $25 is precious. But going back to the financial literacy piece. And that has to go hand in hand with the store value.

00:37:29.520 --> 00:37:44.850
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Because cold storage is important for people to understand right because they can do catch up for a while, but they only take them so far because of the limitation. So we want them to get to a point where they understand

00:37:45.390 --> 00:37:53.130
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know how to hold their own keys we understand you know the difference between buying crypto on on on PayPal and

00:37:53.850 --> 00:38:06.090
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Versus an exchange a traditional change or even how to actually, you know, hold their own crypto Tolstoy's. Yeah. One of the projects I'm working on is to create a financial literacy platter.

00:38:07.050 --> 00:38:09.570
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Which would essentially be a certificate program.

00:38:10.440 --> 00:38:18.510
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The goal is to work with financial literacy centers, they are tons of them in the communities we we need to hit wouldn't have to build the infrastructure.

00:38:18.840 --> 00:38:28.440
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: These financial literacy centers already teaching people the difference between paying for banana between paying off $1 credit card or check, they

00:38:28.620 --> 00:38:41.610
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Teach them, we need to add to that mix. So this could be a certificate program that the financial centers will actually administer and once their participants their patrons.

00:38:42.480 --> 00:38:53.910
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Completed they get their first wallet and they get $25 and that was wallet. So they go into it at least having a basic knowledge about cool stores, because the stimulus program would focus on cold storage.

00:38:54.630 --> 00:39:06.240
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And so as we actually get people to focus on store value by crypto yeah we this is a good way to actually start integrating the conversation about cool stories into

00:39:06.240 --> 00:39:16.080
Jeremy Allaire: That yeah i mean i think it's that's that's a powerful way to go. Education in that ways is really powerful in that I think for for a lot of people

00:39:16.680 --> 00:39:25.950
Jeremy Allaire: The, the concept of being able to kind of control your own store of value, not have it be something that can be sort of seeds from you.

00:39:26.880 --> 00:39:35.670
Jeremy Allaire: You know, the, the independence that can come from that and otherwise it's, it can be quite powerful, but it's a lot to learn and and take on, for sure.

00:39:36.480 --> 00:39:41.940
Jeremy Allaire: I want to come back to one of the themes that you've touched on, and obviously is a major theme for you, which is

00:39:42.360 --> 00:39:53.100
Jeremy Allaire: You know, just the the diversity problem in crypto right so women of color and blockchain. You're at the forefront of driving greater diversity in the blockchain ecosystem.

00:39:53.550 --> 00:40:03.030
Jeremy Allaire: I would love to hear a little bit about that work, but also, you know, this is a big problem right you we need these communities to reflect the diversity of the world we're in.

00:40:03.510 --> 00:40:19.140
Jeremy Allaire: Some might argue that will happen automatically as this becomes a mass market technology. But I also think as as an ecosystem. We have to be intentional about these things. I'd love to hear about what intentions you you think need to be there and and how do we keep addressing this

00:40:19.710 --> 00:40:26.760
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah, it's important you know the the burden that crypto inherited from big tech is the fact that

00:40:27.120 --> 00:40:38.220
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Big tech is seen as not inclusive not diverse and also that they don't want to be inclusive or diverse right so in the crypto community. We have to push beyond that because

00:40:38.970 --> 00:40:45.990
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: If we actually repeat or allow ourselves to be branded with them monocle big tech members of Congress.

00:40:46.200 --> 00:40:55.290
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And the administration are not going to take us seriously and they're certainly not going to advance another industry that will actually keep people a color out right

00:40:55.500 --> 00:41:05.970
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So, you know, this effort to actually get smart regulatory policy, it means that crypto, we have to make sure that in our work for us.

00:41:06.540 --> 00:41:14.850
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: We actually reflect, you know, the demographics. We're not you know as as an advocate for diversity and that axing for any

00:41:15.600 --> 00:41:25.890
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know, any special favors you know HBC us. I am a graduate of Howard University has spent the last two decades, creating a pipeline.

00:41:26.430 --> 00:41:35.730
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Right. You know, we've had, you know, black inbound people go to all of these universities to learn about tech right and we know that right now.

00:41:36.450 --> 00:41:42.000
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: You know, blacks and Latinos make up about 40% of the of the US, so if if they're not

00:41:42.330 --> 00:41:54.030
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Present represented in your work for us. It's not because you can't find talent is because you're actually excluding 40% of the US population and that demographic issue, you know,

00:41:54.480 --> 00:42:05.010
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Is not an easy thing to fix, right, because, and we know that and, you know, but but but as you said we have to be intentional.

00:42:06.300 --> 00:42:11.130
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And so one of the things that shares, you know, that has been great is

00:42:12.240 --> 00:42:27.360
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Crypto companies, especially large corporate companies working with HBC us might so but what happened was, you know, lipo I think we started working with Morgan State Morgan State grew this big, you know,

00:42:28.380 --> 00:42:39.660
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Infrastructure there. So, now everybody goes to Morgan State. I get contacted about Howard. Howard created a lab. And now everyone there are so many HBC us around the

00:42:39.660 --> 00:42:40.860
Jeremy Allaire: Country right

00:42:41.520 --> 00:42:43.200
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So, so one of the

00:42:43.440 --> 00:42:44.670
Jeremy Allaire: Big names right it's sort

00:42:44.670 --> 00:42:44.850
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Of

00:42:44.970 --> 00:42:46.410
Jeremy Allaire: It's got to be everywhere. Right. Yeah.

00:42:47.010 --> 00:42:55.830
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I would say that, you know, one of the things that we don't we don't pay attention. We don't talk about enough is the regional growth of crypto

00:42:56.520 --> 00:43:09.420
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So when when when I do events with women of color on Capitol Hill. I bring women from all over the country because members of Congress wants to know that people who look like them from the congressional district are building there.

00:43:09.840 --> 00:43:12.090
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But from a diversity perspective.

00:43:12.420 --> 00:43:24.840
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: That is one way that the the the sector, most of the, I guess most of the leadership or the people who control the money are probably in New York and California and DC, for the most part, because DC because of the regulatory piece.

00:43:25.170 --> 00:43:35.310
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But when you look at, you know, you know, Ohio, right, when you look at even Atlanta Miami Miami, you know, oh my, Chicago

00:43:35.610 --> 00:43:35.910
Jeremy Allaire: Yeah.

00:43:36.210 --> 00:43:49.470
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So you what you're seeing there is grassroots bottom up, quote, like people in these communities, you know, Ohio is a big one, but they have you know they have congressman one Davidson and others to support

00:43:49.470 --> 00:43:55.920
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Them but but but when you look at you know people are building grassroots communities that

00:43:56.340 --> 00:44:10.290
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Large corporations can tap like so we're looking for partners, you don't have to keep going to Harvard and in Princeton, how many Princeton are great Howard and logins data, great, but it looks so some of these communities.

00:44:11.790 --> 00:44:21.300
Jeremy Allaire: Really strong point. I think it's really strong point I think partnering with with, you know, a feces and and the geographic diversity is such a big piece of it.

00:44:21.720 --> 00:44:27.900
Jeremy Allaire: And what's been interesting. I mean circles been growing a lot and with with with the pandemic.

00:44:28.710 --> 00:44:32.340
Jeremy Allaire: World right we're fully remote we're fully distributed

00:44:32.670 --> 00:44:43.290
Jeremy Allaire: And, you know, if you go on our site like we list. Many of the jobs are just remote wherever you are. So we're hiring people all over the country and in different parts of the world.

00:44:43.620 --> 00:44:54.000
Jeremy Allaire: And so I think that creates an enormous opportunity to improve diversity and inclusion talent is everywhere. If you are in the echo chamber of

00:44:54.330 --> 00:44:59.910
Jeremy Allaire: New York finance or or Silicon Valley software big tech, you're gonna you're gonna

00:45:00.120 --> 00:45:14.700
Jeremy Allaire: You're going to self select into a set of communities that have have have established there. But if you go broader there's incredibly talented people everywhere and just tremendous opportunities to to bring people in. And so I think this this remote work.

00:45:15.960 --> 00:45:25.470
Jeremy Allaire: Absolutely should be a real call to action for organizations to with intention improve their, their diversity. Absolutely.

00:45:25.920 --> 00:45:35.790
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And if I'm going to introduce one more thing. It's thought internships continue to be important, right, we think, you know, we're just waiting for century internship. So there's like no

00:45:36.270 --> 00:45:55.320
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Internships as well. We've actually seen a huge divide as well have an inequity exist that actually is a barrier to, you know, to having more diverse workforces in tech and even in crypto you know internships are my opportunities, and for the most part they typically go to

00:45:56.400 --> 00:46:00.360
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Children of wealthy, you know, donors or investors.

00:46:01.530 --> 00:46:11.250
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Even on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Howard University over 150 years in Washington, DC. It has been hard to even get interns to Capitol Hill, because

00:46:11.520 --> 00:46:18.780
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Capitol Hill is a it's not an easy place to enter and you have to you know move here. And even if you live here. You have to have housing.

00:46:19.050 --> 00:46:31.530
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So it's an expensive proposition. One that mostly wealthy, you know college students can afford. So we've actually worked very hard to figure out how can we ensure that we get more Howard University interns on Capitol Hill.

00:46:31.740 --> 00:46:40.410
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Again, recognizing is difficult because they are barriers, but I know Kristin Smith at the blackening association is looking at, you know,

00:46:41.610 --> 00:46:44.160
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: An internship program for her member companies.

00:46:45.060 --> 00:46:54.240
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So I do think again it's hard. We have to be intentional. One of the ways is to make sure that your internship program has apple

00:46:54.570 --> 00:47:05.370
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Has diversity and is intentional about promoting it. And so if you can look at your intern pulled at each year. And that's it reflect the demographics of America.

00:47:05.760 --> 00:47:17.520
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Then you have a problem, then you need to do more, because a lot of people focus on, you know, the lack of diversity and deletion readership of these large corporations tech or or any competitions.

00:47:17.940 --> 00:47:26.070
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I focus on the your entry level employees and your mid level employees because that's where we actually because if we're going to

00:47:26.310 --> 00:47:39.270
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: level the playing field, they're going to enter into these positions. And that's where we have to make sure that the pipeline entry level jobs mid level jobs. And if we look there. There's not enough diversity.

00:47:39.720 --> 00:47:46.170
Jeremy Allaire: Yeah, that's a great. It's a great recommendation for the industry. Um, I

00:47:47.880 --> 00:47:51.660
Jeremy Allaire: I wanted to just, you know, touch at a very high level on

00:47:52.500 --> 00:48:05.040
Jeremy Allaire: You know, sort of your big picture thoughts and it is in some ways it's sort of my last question, which is, you know, what's, what's your dream. You know, where, where do you hope to see things

00:48:05.580 --> 00:48:14.550
Jeremy Allaire: In the next, you know, three to five years, you know, specifically in terms of crypto and blockchain and and the broader intersection of

00:48:15.480 --> 00:48:28.500
Jeremy Allaire: Politics and crypto and and and COMMUNITIES OF COLOR YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD. What would, what would success look like, what would it look like in three to five years and and you know that's you know roughly the length of the by the administration, so

00:48:29.100 --> 00:48:31.410
Jeremy Allaire: You can maybe talk about in the next four years.

00:48:32.040 --> 00:48:33.600
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah. Oh my god.

00:48:34.920 --> 00:48:40.920
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So what would success look like for me. How would I define success. Well, I

00:48:41.970 --> 00:48:53.790
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I do think that I do want to see more intention about diversity within the crypto company. I'm sorry. In the crypto communities, especially with large employers right you know

00:48:54.570 --> 00:49:07.680
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I would love for Coinbase to finally recognize that they have an issue, and even acknowledge that and add it, because you can't solve what you what you can't fix what you don't acknowledge and

00:49:08.310 --> 00:49:12.480
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: They don't know they have a lot of people who would be willing to help them if they would just

00:49:13.530 --> 00:49:15.180
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Acknowledge that they have a problem.

00:49:16.260 --> 00:49:22.860
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But every girl is a coin base. I think every you know company should do that because, as you mentioned, Biden.

00:49:24.690 --> 00:49:34.590
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I said, I talked a lot about the decade of women. Women of Color very much responsible for Biden's when that is why you seen his administration is so diverse.

00:49:34.860 --> 00:49:36.510
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: So, so

00:49:37.650 --> 00:49:42.540
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The demonstration is going to expect crypto to be diverse. If it wants a

00:49:43.200 --> 00:49:53.670
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: seat at the table, right. So we need to address the diversity piece, you know, again, it's hard. We have to be intentional, but they are partners and allies that wants to help with that.

00:49:54.540 --> 00:50:03.450
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I would definitely love for the crypto community to be more intentional and committed to education and training we

00:50:04.590 --> 00:50:15.630
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: were so excited about this space. We wanted to, you know, we want mainstream adoption, but we're not going to the basics. We have to step back and figure out the language of crypto

00:50:15.870 --> 00:50:24.900
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And start doing basic education basic training is not sexy. It's probably not gonna yield anyone an immediate return, but we need

00:50:25.530 --> 00:50:30.780
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: A big example is a new Congress is in place. Typically, what would happen if it wasn't coven

00:50:31.470 --> 00:50:40.350
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: The first month would be when you know constituency groups would come and meet with new members, you know, trying to educate them by the issue share a packet. Yeah.

00:50:40.620 --> 00:50:54.450
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: We can't even agree on the definition of crypto right we, you know, the thing is the technology is an industry is an asset class, we can go to the consumers on elected officials with this level of

00:50:55.110 --> 00:50:59.700
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: grandiosity right so we have to figure out, you know,

00:51:00.570 --> 00:51:14.490
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Invest in education and training. And so for me, that would be that would be a greatest success if we were less focus on if we were just as focused on education and training as we are by getting a big, big Bitcoin ETF passed.

00:51:15.000 --> 00:51:25.770
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And and and I would say, you know, like everybody in crypto I want mass adapted adaptation right I want mainstream consumer adoption.

00:51:26.280 --> 00:51:34.230
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Right. So what does that mean, unfortunately, the regulatory piece will not be back down for it because you know again.

00:51:34.500 --> 00:51:41.250
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Washington loves whenever anything's making money what Washington was that we had had attacks and how to regulate it. Right, so we can't help that.

00:51:41.850 --> 00:51:56.880
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: But you know when you when you think about where we have opportunity again globally adoption globally is at a pace that is wonderful way, given how how how new we are as an industry but you know

00:51:57.690 --> 00:52:05.850
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I definitely, I definitely want to see much more industry growth and Jeremy has a concern that I have it. I don't know if other people have it.

00:52:07.740 --> 00:52:10.110
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Barely 12 years old that

00:52:11.430 --> 00:52:20.430
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Whether or not, people hate Bitcoin or cryptocurrency or blockchain it's here to stay. It is actually going to the train has left.

00:52:20.610 --> 00:52:32.190
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And it's going to grow, but the crypto community has this burden, in my opinion, who's going to actually take it to the next level. But because when you see

00:52:32.760 --> 00:52:47.760
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Entities like visa or fidelity or, you know, PayPal enter this space. It's because they know that they have the consumers, they want to take it to the marketplace. They want to give it mainstream adoption.

00:52:48.120 --> 00:52:54.060
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: And if the crypto community is not careful. My all of these great exchanges, we've built all of these

00:52:54.510 --> 00:53:10.650
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Organizations companies and products, we've built, they will get overshadowed run over and and the traditional financial industry was that then and they'll actually do the education, they'll connect to their consumers and they will actually go to space.

00:53:11.700 --> 00:53:21.510
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: I remember when PayPal. First, you know, announced, you know that they're going to offer crypto and and they had the descriptions for the six cryptocurrencies

00:53:23.370 --> 00:53:29.730
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Up one crypto traders like this is ridiculous, and my thing was people is

00:53:30.690 --> 00:53:40.140
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: They have to speak to a consumer that knows nothing about crypto right there. There's a test the language based on the consumer base. They have by because again.

00:53:40.680 --> 00:53:52.050
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: In crypto. We don't have a consumer base yet. We haven't we haven't called done nation, the marketplace. So, so in the next four years. I would love to see the people who actually built with

00:53:52.050 --> 00:53:56.220
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Them, which includes people of color who are there from the beginning.

00:53:56.370 --> 00:54:10.560
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Yeah, we look at how do we make sure we protect our market share and make sure we're not fighting and giving you know the traditional financial institution, an opportunity to come in and just pick it.

00:54:11.400 --> 00:54:20.850
Jeremy Allaire: Yeah, very good perspective as a as a as a startup that's been in the space for seven and a half years. I hope that is also what happens

00:54:23.250 --> 00:54:37.860
Jeremy Allaire: Club, this has been really wonderful to have you on really appreciate your thoughts and insights and looking forward to hopefully continue collaboration and just thank you again for joining us today and

00:54:38.010 --> 00:54:55.920
Cleve Mesidor, WOC Blockchain: Thank you for the opportunity to be here and to connect with your viewers and listeners and thank you for the great work you're doing with soco I commend you on your commitment to financial inclusion and also to building a strong financial system for the world.

00:54:56.400 --> 00:54:59.190
Jeremy Allaire: Thank you so much. We'll talk to you very soon.

00:55:00.570 --> 00:55:01.020
Bye bye.

00:55:03.090 --> 00:55:04.740
Jeremy Allaire: So some great perspective there.

00:55:05.760 --> 00:55:06.660
Jeremy Allaire: From club.

00:55:06.690 --> 00:55:20.550
Jeremy Allaire: And a really pivotal moment in in in policy in crypto in what mainstream adoption might look like over the next four years, and really a call to action on

00:55:20.940 --> 00:55:40.740
Jeremy Allaire: Our industry to be more intentional about diversity to be more intentional about education and and really the substance of what financial inclusion involves so hopefully you all took some great perspective from that. And until next time, stay well stay safe and stay informed.

Cleve Mesidor
Founder, National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain