It’s no secret that there is an education gap when it comes to blockchain technologies and digital assets. When I ask individuals that work with distributed ledger technologies what needs to take place for these innovations to be adopted faster, a common answer I get is that there needs to be more education around these topics.
A majority of the population has been relying on mainstream media for their blockchain education. Unfortunately, this primarily teaches them how to speculate on coins and tokens and makes them want to invest in highly volatile meme coins. Although most market participants are attracted to digital currencies for potential gains, the notion of speculation is harmful and adverse to a few of the core narratives and pillars of digital assets, “that they will increase financial inclusion around the globe, that they will play a significant role in banking the unbanked, and that they are a store of value.”
The unbanked, underbanked, and economically disadvantaged populations typically cannot afford to gamble on coins and tokens that may result in a 50% drawdown at any given moment. These groups would benefit from knowing the safe and sound ways that blockchain could improve their life. Jefferson Noel, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Barbershop Speaks, has set out to bridge the education gap by teaching communities about the progressive ways they can use digital assets.
“People perish from a lack of knowledge. At Barbershop Speaks, we bring experts to the people. Not everyone knows a financial advisor personally or can afford to meet with one. But through Barbershop Speaks, we bring seasoned veterans to the shop to educate,” he said.
“The purpose of Crypto Convos is to motivate and educate the community to light a spark in understanding cryptocurrencies and the power of blockchain technologies. We understand the importance and power of blockchain technology, but we have yet to unlock and grasp the widespread use cases that will completely upend how we interact with technology. That is one of the reasons that we repurpose barbershops into places where people can engage with experts on community-impacting topics and network with like-minded members of their community,” he added.
Noel was strategic in picking the location to host his Crypto Convos. With the goal of improving financial literacy, most of the Barbershop Speaks audiences are minorities. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, roughly 5.4% of the United States population is unbanked. However, when you explore that statistic, you will find that the unbanked population comprises 13.8% black Americans and roughly 12.2% Hispanic Americans. Rather than having these populations hunt for educational resources, Noel decided to bring the resources to them by hosting educational sessions in locations in their areas that they are already familiar with, barbershops.
“The barbershop is one of the most diverse places in the world. Someone who is 18 sits next to someone who is 80. Rich next to the poor. Christian next to Muslim. Ph.D. candidate next to high school dropout. But given the difference in background and experience, the barbershop is a unique place where everyone learns from each other. The barbershop is the communities’ classroom where everyone is both a teacher and a student,” Noel said.
To date, Noel has hosted over 35 Barbershop Speaks events, including the one in Philadelphia, where I sat on a panel that explored the basics of blockchain and digital assets. But his events in the U.S. were just the beginning. Now, Noel is focused on bringing financial literacy around digital assets to the areas throughout the globe that can benefit from it the most, emerging markets.
Barbershop Speaks has partnered with A Wealth of Women (AWOW) and AWOW GHANA BKD to bring digital currency conversations to Ghana. The talks in Ghana will be used as the blueprint for other overseas stops he is planning.
“We are taking the brand global because we have seen the tremendous impact made on a local level. The hunger and thirst the community has for these discussions scream the importance of these conversations. Although the brand is going global, our impact will continue to take place in a grassroots manner,” said Noel.
“Education is the first major investment you can make. It is more important to fill your head with knowledge about crypto than it is to just dive in blindly and fill your wallet. At Barbershop Speaks, we believe in education through conversation. That is the heart of why we exist,” he added.
Watch: The BSV Global Blockchain Convention panel, Blockchain in Africa
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.