Blockchain has been in the news cycle for the past year, but with all the hype surrounding it, one man intends to use it for a more greater good: to help lift the LGBTQ+ community.
Christof Wittig is the chairman of the LGBT Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to introduce a cryptocurrency token – the LGBT Token – for the LGBTQ+ community to use as a day-to-day payment method.
Wittig is also known as the founder and CEO of gay social app Hornet, which has a user base of over 25 million users, with over 4 million monthly active users generating USD$10 million in revenue in 2017.
So, why does Wittig think blockchain can help the LGBT community?
“If we utilise the token, we buy on behalf of the community and tell the supplier that this is a pink purchase… you shouldn’t just talk about it – you should treat it seriously and make sure you account for it,” he said to Popspoken when he stopped here to promote the foundation to investors and LGBTQ+ nonprofits.
Wittig stresses that labelling economic transactions as those coming from the LGBT community in a ledger that pseudonymises users but accounts for all purchases will allow the community to be visible beyond demonstrations and pride parades.
“If we wave a flag and ask for (LGBTQ+) rights, if we get prosecuted in Banda Aceh, we put sad smiley faces on Facebook. It’s good, but it’s not enough. I think we can do much better as a community,” he explained.
“Nothing counts more in this world than money. So, let’s play our hand.”
According to the LGBT Foundation, if all LGBTQs formed a country, its GDP per capita could go up to US$4.6 trillion, placing it fourth in GDPs worldwide – above those of Germany and the UK.
The foundation aims to achieve three things with the token, said Wittig: anonymise users with pseudonyms while accounting for them on a public ledger, tokenise economic transactions so businesses know which one came from an LGBTQ+ person, and donate 1% of proceeds to an impact fund to support nonprofit LGBTQ+ programmes around the world.
— LGBT Token (@lgbt_token) February 16, 2018
Wittig aims to introduce the token into the digital wallets of Hornets users globally by the second quarter of this year, according to the foundation’s white paper.
On one of the plans in the paper, users can purchase tickets through event listings on Hornet but limit what information they share with the event partner through a secure ID.
“We bring a wallet to all our users so you open the app and are immediately a member who can participate. We make it based on this huge (Hornet) population and through an easy application, adopt the platform,” said Wittig.
At a launch event in Singapore, he stressed that the token will maintain a high share value by partnering with various for-profit partners who see value in having a terminal in-store to accept the token as a means of payment.
— LGBT Token (@lgbt_token) March 6, 2018
1 billion LGBT Tokens will be issued, with 20% of them issued in an initial token sale to raise some 60,000 Ethereum (SGD$61 million), according to the white paper. After releasing another 10% more tokens after additional approvals, any unsold tokens will be burnt.
38% of tokens will be reserved for a network accelerator to be given to customers from participating businesses that have indicated interest to be part of the programme, while the remainder tokens will be locked in reserve for at least a year.
Businesses under the programme will receive help from the foundation, either through plugins for e-commerce stores or payment devices for brick-and-mortar stores.
In a bid to drive usage, Hornet aims to transfer its rewards model to the LGBT Token by the second quarter of the year. The LGBT Foundation aims to kickstart brick-and-mortar usage of the token in Taipei, Sao Paolo and Paris by the end of the year.
The technology and aims provide some hope for LGBTQ+ nonprofits who need sustainable sources of funding to run social safety programmes but in order to get massive adoption, the LGBTQ+ community will need to be willing to participate and use the token as a form of payment and encourage LGBTQ-supportive businesses to take part – which Wittig believes is possible through a multi-year global outreach effort.
“I don’t want to think of (the LGBT community as) a fragment – I want to bring it together,” said Wittig. “If there is a smart guy in the Ukraine that can bring something to the table, bring it on. The same thing is to for a transgender person in Omaha, for instance – it’s by choice.”
The Foundation will not publish any Ether wallet address. All details on participating in the token sale will be given once users register on their website.