May 18 Elsa Snellman
You’ve probably heard the term “pink money” being thrown around. These days, the spending power of the LGBT+ community in many Western countries is a significant economic driver not to be underestimated – something that many companies supporting anti-gay policies and homophobic rhetoric have noticed lately. Needless to say, LGBT+ customers believe in putting their money where their mouth is. Would the global LGBT+ community be a country, it would be the fourth-largest economy in the world with an estimated GDP of USD 4.6 trillion. Thus, instead of pink money, we should perhaps start talking about pink economy. And this economy has just acquired its own currency.
LGBT Foundation: Using Blockchain to Shed Light on Pink Economy
The Hong-Kong based LGBT Foundation launched in January. While naturally being a socially-minded company aiming to tackle anti-LGBT+ persecution, it is also taking a more pragmatic step towards demonstrating the might of the progressive pink economic ecosystem. This will be done through the introduction of LGBT Token, a cryptocurrency based on Ethereum and the ERC20 Standard. By using the token, the users will be able to verify their LGBT+ identities and demonstrate their consumer decisions and the purchasing power of pink economy directly. Furthermore, the not-for-profit company believes that the token will offer a great opportunity to generate resources to provide financial support to the more vulnerable LGBT+ communities, especially those out of reach of more traditional ways of receiving aid and money transfers.
What’s with the verification of one’s identity? As previously mentioned, LGBT+ customers are loyal to the brands who show up to demonstrate their support and affiliation with the LGBT+ community. By using LGBT Token and identifying themselves as “pink” consumers, the users can direct their consumer activity towards those companies who share their progressive values. In return, the companies whose services they utilize get information on the purchasing habits of the community, and can improve their ability to take their concerns and needs in account.
Privacy in the Time of Pink Economy
It has been quite a year for privacy breaches, to put it mildly. In the advent of GDPR, many of us are becoming more aware of our rights to data ownership, and the ways our data can and cannot be used by other parties. Is Wittig worried that people are becoming increasingly suspicious or uneasy about their digital identities, given the sensitivity of the issue of one’s sexual orientation?
“People are increasingly distrustful of governments and corporations, and see a decentralized, autonomous solution to their challenges as a viable alternative”, Wittig says. “At Hornet, we have a long track record of managing a now 25 million strong user base with technology in a safe manner, and making it fun and simple to engage”, he continues. As Wittig states, people who understand the logic behind the decentralization of blockchain also understand that it can be the very solution to many data privacy issues. Educating people about the way blockchain functions is the answer to the concerns they may have. “Every day I am surprised by new ideas that can be implemented on this framework”, Wittig admits. “One example came from an NGO which is distributing HIV medication in Uganda. If you’re identified as LGBT in there, that could be your death penalty. At the same time the organization has to ensure that the medication falls into the right hands, and doesn’t end up on the black market. It’s a perfect example on how LGBT Token can become part of a viable solution to track distribution and prevent embezzlement without endangering the lives of the recipients”, he explains.
At the moment, LGBT Foundation is finalizing the choice over technology partners and will be kicking off the development shortly. They are intending to leverage existing technology and cryptocurrency experience rather than “reinventing the wheel”, Wittig describes. “We will offer the token for public sale only once the platform is usable and utility has been established at scale, within Hornet and with other LGBT+ partner networks. This approach keeps us in compliance with regulators and ensures long-term economic viability”.
In the past few decades, the LGBT+ community has steadfastly marched itself into public, legal existence. The gay liberation movement has effectively delivered its message: we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re going nowhere. And with the help of LGBT Token, it will also be known to the world that they’ve got money to spare.
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