Tag Archives: Forbes.com

Is Cryptocurrency for African-Americans?

Is cryptocurrency for African-Americans? Are we in on the game or are we just too cautious with our money to get in right now? Can cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin help the Black economy? Are we ready or even willing to get in the digital cash game? I said it before and I’ll say it again; Black people don’t play when it comes to money!

From Black celebrity endorsements to black people actually mining cryptocurrencies the game is starting to open up and awareness is growing. But are we truly on board?

Black celebrities are pushing cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings or ICO.   An ICO is an unregulated way to raise money for new cryptocurrencies. ICOs are used by startups to get around the rigid rules and laws associated with  the regular capital-raising process. In other words they can raise money without any rules or laws to obey. This makes ICOs an extremely risky investment.

Risky investments do not appeal to African-Americans. “African-Americans are risk-averse,” says Deborah Owens, formerly of Fidelity Investments. Owens calls herselfAmericans Wealth Coach.”  Owens told Forbes.com that, “So, one of the major reasons they have less in retirement savings is they are ultra-conservative, particularly African-Americans who work in the public sector and nonprofit organizations.”

Ultra popular DJ Khaled, alongside boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather are pumping up Centra Tech. Chief operating officer for Centra Tech, Raymond Trapani, told Fortune.com that Khaled and Mayweather are working as  “official brand ambassador and managing partner” of the company. But the government has issued warnings about their investment advice in digital currencies.

Mayweather, in addition to Centra Tech, he is also associated with ICOs from Stox.com and Hubii Networks. Critics say both companies are risky blockchain technologies and neither has produced a product, service or profit.

Other Black celebrities involved in cryptocurrency include rapper Snoop Dogg, Nas, former Spice Girl Mel B, actor Donald Glover, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, former NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, actor/comedian Jamie Foxx,  and WuTang Clan’s GhostFace Killah.

Needless to say these are fairly wealthy artists and athletes who can afford to play in the cryptocurrency casino and help ICOs raise billions of dollars. But is their involvement even legal?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking real hard at these celebrity endorsements. The SEC issued a statement to “celebrities and others” who use social media networks to encourage the public to purchase stocks and other investments.

The statement advises celebrities that, “These endorsements may be unlawful if they do not disclose the nature, source, and amount of any compensation paid, directly or indirectly, by the company in exchange for the endorsement.”  Put simply these celebrities need to come clean and let people know they are partners or investors in the company they are pushing.

But are Black people buying cryptocurrencies? Edwardo Jackson of Blacks in Bitcoin believes its still early and that African-Americans need to get in the game and get in the game now. Jackson told TheAtlantic.com, “Can you imagine what it would have been like to own a piece of email technology in 1994? That’s what Bitcoin is like right now, and it’s only getting bigger.”

Along with Black celebrities Jackson could be opening the door for minorities to get into cryptocurrencies. Research in 2014 showed that black people and minorities in general were not aware of the cryptocurrency phenomenon.  But now the African-American community is becoming more aware of digital currency and the wealth it can produce. Black people interested in Bitcoin and possibly investing in digital currency are beginning to form groups to study this phenomenon. One MeetUp group in Atlanta has over 180 members and the interest appears to be growing. Sources of information for black people are also growing as evidenced by Jackson’s blogBlacks in Bitcoin.”

Can digital currency help the African-American community? An interesting fact about Black people in the digital age is our love of mobile technology. Black people have become early and enthusiastic adapters of mobile technology. We are most likely to shop and access the Internet using smartphones than white people. So the idea of using a digital currency is not out of the realm. Another interesting fact is that Black communities, low income neighborhoods, are severely under-banked.

Chief market strategist for ConvergEx Group, Nicholas Colas believes digital currency like Bitcoin can make a difference. Colas sees the currency filling the hole where banks are not in these communities. Colas cited a 2013 Senate committee letter from then-Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. Bernanke did not endorse digital currency but agreed low-cost transactions could benefit low income, under-banked communities. Providers of pre-paid cards and payday loans often thrive in low income communities.  Colas added, “That’s where the promise is for the African American community, because in a finished form, it allows for a cheaper money-transfer system than anything that the current financial system can provide.”

 

African-Americans are beginning to take notice of digital currency and are venturing in with their own brand of digital currency. A Black owned digital currency company, BitMari, has emerged. Founded in 2015, BitMari is a Pan-African blockchain company seeking to secure a piece of the action in the billions of  dollars sent to Africa each year. BitMari is facilitating the transfer or remittance of money using the Bitcoin technology into Africa.

 

 

 

 

$Guap Black Owned Digital Currency

Another Black owned digital currency is $Guap launched by tech visionary Tavonia Evans. The ICO for $Guap is aimed at recycling wealth within the Black community. $Guap is intended to leverage the one trillion dollars in Black spending power. $Guap will jump on the cryptocurrency wave by rewarding African-American consumers for supporting businesses that support them.

Now you know.

 

 

Black Women in Technology Doing Their Own Thing – Stephanie Lampkin

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Stephanie Lampkin, Founder-CEO Blendoor

Technology and diversity are not synonymous. But that is not to say that African-Americans and people of color are not making efforts and having success in the cyber realm.

Black people have a saying; “Step out on faith.” That means you believe in yourself and a higher power to succeed. These sistahs have knowledge and talent and have stepped out into the tech industry with new and powerful ideas that can change the world. Black women are breaking the mold and shattering stereotypes by making a difference in the tech industry. 

One of the biggest problems in the technology industry, and industry in general, is racial prejudice. It is common for people with so called “black sounding” names to be passed over for employment opportunities. One black woman has decided to fight back.

Stephanie Lampkin launched Blendoor to fight racial bias in hiring practices. Blendoor was one of the winning companies at Google Demo Day. Lampkin’s company also won Tech.Co’s Startup of the Year competition in 2015.  Blendoor is a recruiting application that shields the prospective job candidate’s name, picture and dates to help curtail racial bias in hiring. Blendoor is focused on providing candidates to companies based on “merits not molds.”

“It’s quantifiable,” said Lampkin. “We realized that hiding names and photos created a safer space. Women and people of color felt better sharing their information.”

Racial bias in hiring has tools. Ethnic sounding names and faces of color are often rejected and using the well traveled professional networks can be an obstacle. 

Lampkin believes women, people of color, members of the LGBT community and other minorities in Silicon Valley feel alienated by job search websites that reveal a candidates name and headshot.

Lampkin told Forbes.com; “I know a number of really successful, Ivy League-educated, African-American people between 35 and 45 who refuse to use LinkedIn out of fear of discrimination. These companies are founded by white guys. There’s a psychology I understand as a woman of color that’s driven how and why I’ve shaped the product the way I have.”

Lampkin 31, is an amazing story. She was born into a welfare household and her mother was at one time homeless while pregnant with her. Yet Lampkin over came incredible odds to become the CEO of a technology start up. She learned how to write code by the time she was 13 then went on to graduate from Stanford and MIT and worked for five years at Microsoft.

But Lampkin learned that was not enough. She was still ignored for jobs at major technology companies. As a black woman, Lampkin admits it was probably because she “did not look the part.” She just didn’t fit the mold of what tech companies are looking for. Deliberate or not it is commonly known as pattern matching. Lampkin states that often veterans and disabled people are also sifted out of the candidate pool.

Lampkin remembers advancing deep into the interview process for a prized job at a well-known tech firm in Silicon Valley. In the end she was told her background wasn’t “technical enough” for a role in software engineering.

“The recruiter told me a sales or marketing job might open up,” said Lampkin. She landed at Microsoft where she spent the next five years. Lampkin is nobody’s fool and understands that being a black women was not an asset in the tech industry. Repeated job rejections have taught her that.

Blendoor is not a one way street for companies looking to improve diversity in its ranks. Job candidates can also use the app to examine a company’s inclusion programs and diversity of its executive staff. 

The app will also collect data on who is applying to tech’s most sought-after positions and who is getting them.  “Blendoor wants to make companies accountable using data,” Lampkin said.

Now you know.

 

 

 

Protecting Your New Smartphone and Yourself

canstockphoto20668245Christmas is over and you got a new smartphone from Santa. This little device can become a vital part of your life. Today’s smartphones can hold vast amounts of data including credit card data and personal information. Protecting your phone means protecting yourself.

As you get to know your new gadget you need to learn when it is misbehaving. There are definitely signs when something is wrong and you need to spot them early. For example any app you download could be a hiding place for malware. Opening an attachment or visiting the wrong website could result in downloading an app that attacks your smartphone and even take control of it.

You should be especially cautious if you have a Android device. According to Forbes.com 97 percent of mobile malware is on Android. Much of the malware comes from unregulated apps. So stick to the Google PlayStore if you are smart. 

But if you have an Apple iPhone or other smartphone better be alert because they are not immune by any means.

According to Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Security Labs more than 16 million mobile devices were hit by malware last yearZDNet  also reported an increase of 25 percent over 2013 infection. 

So how can you tell if you new smartphone is compromised or infected with malware? Here are the clues.

  1. Strange behavior – One of the first clues that something is wrong is that the phone or apps begin to act strangely.  You phone or the apps may cease working or the phone may crash.  This could indicate that some malicious code on your device is interfering with its normal operation. Sometimes an app may appear suddenly and without you doing anything. This could come from a suspect website. Make sure you know what apps are installed on your phone so you can quickly identify the intruder. Whenever you install an app make sure you carefully examine what permissions the app wants. An app that asks for administrators privileges can be difficult or impossible to uninstall. Use caution and delete any app you do not use. Deny any app that asks you to install it if you don’t know what it is or where it came from.
  2. Mysterious  calls or messages – Get in the habit of checking your call and message history regularly. Malware infections will try to make calls or send messages to expensive international numbers. If this happens you will get the bill and its hard to argue your way out of paying.
  3. Data hogging – Malicious apps will use up your allotted data to communicate with computers operated by cyber criminals. These cyber criminals are sending orders and updates to the malware. And the malware is sending stolen information back to the cybercriminals. Make sure you watch your data usage. If something is eating your data you need to act.
  4. Strange messages – Many cyber criminals use text messages to control malware. These messages can be interpreted by the malware to carry out tasks on your device. Sometimes the malware  is programmed to manipulate message logs to delete the message before you get suspicious. But some crooks don’t bother to program in this function resulting in strange messages appearing in your history. If your friend’s phone is infected you may see a strange message from them and vice versa. Be alert to strange text messages that don’t make sense or are completely unintelligible. Be alert if you get a strange message from a contact. This could mean they have become infected and it could spread to your phone. Be a friend and let them know.
  5. Watch your billExcessive text messages or data usage could cost you money. Examine your bill closely to detect suspicious charges quickly.

Be aware that a lot of malware can get into official app stores.  This malware can, and does, steal credit card data.  African-Americans do a lot banking and other financially related activities through our phones. If you regularly make payments or shop using your smartphone you should monitor your credit card bill and bank accounts for suspicious charges.

Prevention is key.

To enjoy and make the best and safest use of your new smartphone act to prevent an infection rather than trying to recover from a malware infection.

  • Keep your device’s operating system and apps updated.
  • Back up all important data on the device.
  • Use an anti malware and keep it up to date.
  • Buy or download your apps only from official stores. The possibility of downloading malware is lower but not impossible.
  • Use a screen lock. Make sure your code is at least six numbers. A pattern may be easy to guess and less secure than a PIN, and that a password is your best option.
  • Encrypt the content on your device.
  • Avoid rooting or jail breaking your smartphone.