Out of the closets and into the economy.

Advocates for the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer community estimate the international “pink economy” totals about $4.6 trillion. If the LGBTQ community were a country, its GDP would rank fourth in the world behind Japan and ahead of Germany. In the U.S. alone, LGBTQ buying power approaches $1 trillion.

That’s a lot of coin. And that’s why the Hong Kong-based LGBT Foundation just announced its intent to create a “pink” cryptocurrency. The potential currency combines economic and social goals, according to a statement from Christof Wittig, president of the LGBT Foundation. 

Money talks, which is why the proposed pink crypto might make the world listen.

“We are designing the LGBT Token with the primary intention of benefiting and empowering the LGBT community. With the principles of pseudonymity, scalability, functionality and decentralization guiding the project, the LGBT Foundation aims to create an every day, secure, and mass-adopted cryptocurrency,” she said.  

From Pages to Blockchain

If pink crypto is successful, it could show other communities how they might follow suit. Many affinity and identity groups have created advocacy organizations to solidify their cumulative economic power. For example, the Houston Black Pages reflects the longstanding tradition of ethnic minority phone and business directories. In a paper published by the Acton Institute, an evangelical Christian think tank, D. Eric Schansberg, a professor of economics at Indiana University Southeast, urges believers to understand the impact of their economic clout on policy proposals.

Money talks, which is why the proposed pink crypto might make the world listen, says Jonathan D. Lovitz, senior vice president for the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce in Washington. “One of the most effective ways for LGBTQ people to assert their rights is through economic power,” he tells ThirtyK. Any tool that quantifies the collective clout of the LGBTQ or any other affinity or identity group focuses individual power into a force that the group can use for advocacy of all sorts, he adds.

Proving the Case

The public history of transactions on a blockchain could also solve another vexing problem for communities and identity groups seeking to quantify their economic power: proving who is really on their side. To date, groups like the Chamber and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council rely on like-minded corporations to complete the paperwork documenting how much they spend with, or for, identity, gender or ethnic minority businesses.

A parallel verification is to certify identity, gender or ethnic minority businesses as genuinely owned by members of the claimed group. The Chamber, for instance, has certified over 900 U.S. businesses as being owned and operated by people who identify as LGBTQ; this both provides data on LGBTQ businesses and opens a paper trail for spending with those businesses by corporations, nonprofits and governments.

Blockchain has the potential to supersede that, says Lovitz, because all users on the blockchain can see the origins of a piece of data, when it was changed and by whom. “If anything, blockchain and the ability to share information safely might help us greatly expand the number of companies that might want to get their voice out there” as LGBTQ owned or aligned, he explains. “It will protect the process, so it will add richness to the data.”

Joanne Cleaver
Joanne Cleaver is a Chicago-based freelance, business and lifestyles journalist based. Her work has appeared in a number of national and regional publications. Earlier in her career, she was the deputy business editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.