Is a new cryptocurrency benefitting the LGBTQ+ community as intended, or is the initiative doomed to fail thanks to an ill-conceived name choice?
“Maricoin,” the first cryptocurrency specifically targeted toward LGBTQ+ investors shares a similar name to an anti-gay Spanish pejorative (maricón). The similarity is eliciting mixed reactions.
In a story for TheStreet, University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor Lee Badgett said, “LGBTQ+ activists have figured out how to harness the economic power of LGBTQ+ workers and consumers in many other ways using standard government-issued currencies.” Badgett added, “It’s not obvious to me what this new cryptocurrency adds beyond providing a new opportunity to talk about the importance of economic inclusion for LGBTQ+ people.”
But Badgett, author of “The Economic Case for LGBT Equality: Why Fair and Equal Treatment Benefits Us All,” said that the name isn’t necessarily problematic as the LGBTQ+ community has reclaimed homophobic slurs before. “[That’s] where ‘queer’ and ‘dyke’ came from, for example, and many LGBTQ+ people now use those terms,” he said.
But out in SocialMediaLand, opinions vary. One Twitter user, Diogo Pereira, posed the following question:
“Can a form of advanced capitalism such as #cryptocurrency actually help [marginalized] communities that are constantly discriminated and oppressed by #capitalism?” he asked.
Can a form of advanced capitalism such as #cryptocurrency actually help marginalised communities that are constantly discriminated and oppressed by #capitalism? Looks more like another attempt to bank of #queer money. #maricoin https://t.co/H7mDuoofwN
— Diogo Pereira 🏳️🌈🌍 (@diogos_p) January 4, 2022
Inarguably, the LGBTQ+ community has buying power. According to a 2018 study by Kantar Consulting and Hornet, it is estimated that the LGBTQ+ community’s buying power in the U.S. is $1 trillion—nearly equal to that of African-American or Hispanic people.
Francisco Alvarez, CEO of Miami-based Borderless Capital, which is backing the venture, told Openly that 8,000 people were on a waiting list to buy Maricoins before the currency even started trading. The plan is that the LGBTQ+ cryptocurrency will be accepted at businesses such as restaurants and shops and hotels.
To be able to accept Maricoin, the businesses will have to sign an “equality manifesto” defending the right of LGBTQ+ people “and everyone suffering from exclusion.”
“The establishments that accept our coin will be listed on our map, which will work as an LGBTQ+ guide for anyone visiting any city in the world,” Alvarez said. “If they violate any of the points of our anti-discrimination manifesto, for example, if they fire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, they will be expelled from Maricoin.”
The benefits to the LGBTQ+ community, said Alvarez, will be global.
“We’ll be able to give microcredits for people to set up a small LGBTQ+-friendly cafe in Colombia or to support projects helping queer refugees flee countries where they’d be stoned to death,” he said. “We’re looking forward to changing the world.”
Maricoin co-founder Juan Belmonte told TheStreet.com that the idea for the LGBTQ+ cryptocurrency came up at a Pride party in Madrid last July.
“Since we move this economy, why shouldn’t our community profit from it, instead of banks, insurance companies or big corporations that often don’t help LGBTQ+ people?” Belmonte told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.