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  • Writer's pictureMichele Neitz

BL4SG Special Edition:  The Future of Access, Inclusion and Equity in a Web3 World

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

On October 20-21, 2022, the Blockchain Law for Social Good Center held its inaugural annual conference. This is the first post in a series of eight posts about the discussions, leadership and community created at the event.

Professor Tonya Evans is a world-renowned speaker and crypto policy and education advisor with over 20 years of experience in law, academia, technology, and entrepreneurship. She currently teaches at Penn State Dickinson Law school as a tenured professor and was the opening keynote speaker at the BL4SG Conference.

In her presentation, Professor Evans spoke about her experiences with blockchain technology, inclusion, and equity and the effects that blockchain technology could have on traditionally marginalized communities. She shared her personal experiences as a woman of color and how she saw that a lack of financial inclusion was prohibiting people from taking control of their own lives and finances. “Equality is different than equity,” said Professor Evans, detailing how having equal access to gain equity and generational wealth is key in creating the pathway to wealth for marginalized communities.

Professor Evans discussed how blockchain technology has evolved over the years, but that it is transparency that people find most appealing. “Blockchain is a different way to manage data,” she said, “it’s a system based on data which is more transparent and equitable for all who use it.” Her emphasis on the transparency that blockchain technology provides, especially in the space of cryptocurrencies, is justified given that the technology allows people to find new ways to build wealth for themselves and break free from the traditional systemic barriers holding them back. Indeed, the technology allows anyone to participate in this aspect of the digital economy. While, several people and industries are skeptical of cryptocurrencies because they are not sure what its “value” is.

Many people are skeptical of cryptocurrencies because they don’t believe that the value of cryptocurrencies is backed by anything, such as the U.S. dollar. In response to such some of the pushback, Professor Evans challenged the group to consider the irony of such a position in the context of the U.S. dollar, “The U.S. dollar hasn’t been on the gold standard since the 1970s, why is it that cryptocurrencies receive so much scrutiny over their “value.”?” There is an argument to be made then that all fiat currencies have no value. So why are cryptocurrencies met with such apprehension? This is obviously a big question full of nuance, but certainly one answer rests in the novelty and “newness” of cryptocurrencies and the fact that not enough people are familiar with what they are and how they work.

In the end, Professor Evans concluded that though blockchain technology is innovative and can address several issues, it is not meant for everything. There are still some limitations to its use, but many industries and communities can benefit from it overall. “Though blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are part of a new revolution, only time will tell if it’s an evolution,” concluded Professor Evans. For now, blockchain technology and decentralized finance is clearly one way to empower, include, and uplift people who have traditionally been excluded based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, and other exclusionary factors.

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