YGA 9 | Cryptocurrency

 

Cryptocurrency has the power to control your finances rather than just traditional banking. Starting to learn and be exposed to Bitcoin last 2015, Marumover’s interest in cryptocurrency kept growing. As a result, she invested a small amount with what she could at that time. Marumover shares key concepts on this blockchain technology regarding security, your online wallet, and seed phrases in this episode. Stay tuned and be more familiar with cryptocurrency and how it technically works.

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Controlling Your Finances Through Cryptocurrency With Marumover

I have my friend Maru who goes by Marumover online. She and I were lucky enough to meet In Real Life, IRL at an event in Miami. Maru is a special woman in the crypto space. She’s at the forefront of evangelizing the crypto space but in real deep technology in Miami, which means she’s at the forefront of the best crypto space in the United States because Miami is in the thick of it.

Maru, Thank you so much for being here. I’m so excited to have you.

Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be here as well.

Tell us how you got started in crypto, where you came from, and what caused you to get involved. I would love to know also how long you have been in Miami.

I’m originally from Ecuador and I have been in Miami for over ten years. I have lived in different parts of the United States and abroad, but Miami is my base where I spend the most time. I originally got into crypto in 2015 when I was living in New York City. That was my introduction and exposure to what is Bitcoin and what is crypto.

My story is simple. I came for the money but I stayed for the tech. At the time, I had a lot of restrictions on where I could invest my money because of the responsibilities that I had. I was working for PWC with major companies. I was involved in the sectors that I wanted to invest in, so I could not invest in those sectors.

I looked for an alternative measure of investment and I found Bitcoin. That’s how I got started. It was through my relationship with the Ethereum community that I developed an interest in technology, and I started to create and build. This was back in 2017 when I first started to go deep down the rabbit hole. I have not looked back since.

You went in early on. You said you came for the money and you stayed for the tech, but at that time it feels like it was so peripheral. Ethereum was probably trading at under $1 then. What was the reason that you were called into it? What made you feel like, “This is the future.”

I had heard about Bitcoin years before I was working in the corporate sector. At the time, it was only associated with nefarious activities. I dismissed it. I did not evaluate it further. Around 2015, I started to get a lot more interest because working with PWC, there were multiple accounting firms that were starting to evaluate blockchain as a solution for auditing purposes and transparency. They kept mentioning it and I wanted to know more.

That’s how my interest increased and I decided to look into it. The returns on investment, even though it was not as extreme as you would see in the very beginning in 2012 to 2013, there was still a return that was more significant than what you would get in a traditional bank account or portfolio. I started with small. I started with what I felt comfortable with until I learned more about the tech. I saw the potential and what it could mean for so many industries that I got very excited, and then I increased my investment amount at that point.

What do you feel are some of the most exciting opportunities and things that are going to change in the industries because of crypto, Bitcoin, Ethereum or whatever it is that excites you the most?

Bitcoin is an alternative measure of investment. Click To Tweet

There are multiple things that excite me. I feel like Bitcoin allows you to have a lot of control over your finances and you don’t have to rely so much on third parties to maintain and monitor. You have the flexibility to be your own bank. You often hear this and it’s true. With your Bitcoin or your cryptocurrency, you can leverage it in a way where you can use it for our traditional banking services like getting a loan or reinvesting into other purposes.

That’s something that is going to continue. It’s a trend that people are going to be excited about the power of having control over their finances, where they are not limited. They are not at the mercy of government or banks that have been reputable for doing just as nefarious activities as Bitcoin has been associated with, if not more. In the past, they have let those things pass, but through the evolution of oversight and governance in the banking space as well, I think that there are still a lot of risks with trusting banks with your money. I love being able to have control over my money and what I do with it and it is very powerful.

On the technology side, I feel like decentralized technology is something that is needed desperately. We become so dependent on large entities to control all aspects of our life like media or any decision-making about our personality or identity online. That’s a scary subject to me. If we built with the intention that no one single entity can be a single point of failure or overall controlling everything, that’s how we should be thinking because the power should not be in the hands of a few but of the many.

I find that in general, the whole crypto community tends to be very by the people, for the people. That’s good. In the truest sense of the word, because of the fact that so much of it is cutting out the middleman, it means that you can see the transparency of the transactions. It’s been announced that the biggest Bitcoin heist ever of multiple millions of dollars has been recovered. Some couple had stolen it in 2016. They have been trying to launder the money ever since, but Bitcoin has gone up so much in value over that period of time that they have had a heck of a time. They have managed to launder approximately 10% of it before they were caught.

I find that fascinating. As you keep saying about the nefarious people and we heard about the Silk Road and all the ugly web stuff that was being traded using cryptocurrency back before that was shut down. In general, what I’m seeing is Bitcoin is super hard to steal. It’s so transparent. In general, crypto is hard to steal because the transactions are so transparent. I had a transaction problem and they said, “Go to the transaction explorer.” I looked and it was like every freaking thing you would ever want to know about the transaction was contained in a single page.

When I sent it to the company, they were like, “Here’s what happened. Here’s the problem. Here’s how we will fix it.” That’s it and it was done. That was so beautiful to me. Trying to make a transaction at a bank can take you hours, let alone trying to then trace that transaction later in case there was a problem.

I certainly agree with you about what you said about the banks. There has been all this uproar about mining crypto and how it’s utilizing so much energy, but then there’s this whisper of like, “Do you know how much energy the banks are using to do their daily transactions?” It’s a lot. What I have heard is it outstrips crypto by a lot as well. I don’t know that I can particularly prove that but that is what I have heard from folks.

A couple of points on that. It’s not a Bitcoin hack. It was an exchange hack. Bitcoin has never been hacked to date. The amount that you are referring to was from an exchange that was functioning back in 2016. They were able to recover those funds because the hackers decided to store their private keys online where they can be easily accessible.

YGA 9 | Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin allows you to have a lot of control over your finances. You don’t have to rely so much on third parties to maintain and monitor. You have the flexibility to be your own bank.

 

Thank you for the clarification. It’s super important. I did not mean to imply that Bitcoin had been hacked rather that it had been stolen. However, explain to people what a key is because I don’t think I have done that for these episodes, so if you can give a layperson explanation.

When you create your first wallet if you have never done so, one of the first steps that they ask you to is to write down your seed phrase. Your seed phrase is what they called private keys. This is the key that only you have to the safe box of data that you are acquiring. This is not a key that is meant to be shared. It’s usually recommended that you don’t store it online because online can be searchable.

Most people usually write it down on a piece of paper and then store it somewhere, some people have more technical hardware tools to store the seed phrase because it’s that valuable. If I were to acquire your seed phrase or private keys, I could pretend to be you and move all funds to my accounts. It’s very important that you protect your private keys and you never give them to anybody.

Before you move on, I want to clarify a couple of things just in case. A wallet is like a physical wallet to store your cash. You use a wallet that looks a lot like a little thumb drive to store your crypto. That’s a wallet that you can unplug afterwards and throw in a drawer and nobody can access it anymore. When Maru was talking about the seed phrases, it’s usually like twelve words that have nothing to do with each other. Those words create the seed phrases. It’s especially important that you not share that with anybody because of security.

I know that in the Bitcoin Billionaires book, the Winklevoss twins were keeping their seed phrases, multiple copies but split. It’s like six in one bank and six in another bank. They did it across four different banks to make sure that nobody was going to be able to access it. If a bank burned down, they had a backup. They had to have each of the two keys. It’s funny because they are twins. It was fun that they split it and then brought it back together again.

That was very important because they had so many Bitcoins that it would have been a disaster if somebody had gotten a hold of those private keys. Because they were so high-profile, somebody might want to. People have their keys stolen all the time if they are foolish enough to share them. People lose their keys because they don’t do the right things with them. When that happens, the wallet goes away and that money is burned, which means you can’t get it back. It’s not impossible to get it back. I heard about somebody that paid a chunk of money over because a hacker had been able to recover their seed phrases, but it was very unusual for that to happen.

It depends on the level of encryption use. It could be 12 or 24 words. If you think about the math of reverse engineering that list that is randomized, it would take us a significant amount of time to recover all those words in that exact same order. Be careful with them. Apart from that, you have your public address, which is the public address that you share with everyone so that people can send you funds.

This is the one that you search in the browser. If you want to get a history of the transactions associated with that public address, you can easily do so because that’s the benefit of blockchain. That is a transparent public ledger that anyone can tap into. There are companies whose entire product suite is based on evaluating the relationships between the transactions. Chainanalysis is one of the companies that does that.

Decentralized technology is something that is needed desperately. Click To Tweet

That’s something that was very useful to me to evaluate and consider because back when I was working for PWC, I was doing a lot of IT audits. That would have helped simplify my audits tremendously had my clients used blockchain at the time. That was very innovative. That was something that was not going to be adopted at the time that I was there. I was like, “I want to know more.” This interests me and that’s when I took the dive in to understand how the tech works and what use cases could leverage them.

I want you to expand a little bit on what you were saying before because you were talking about innovation. I agree that back in 2015, a lot of people were like, “Bitcoin? What’s that?” It only has started to come to the fore in the last couple of years. I want to know when you think crypto is going to go mainstream.

When do you think people are going to see the mass adoption? I believe I’ve read that 14% of adults or users were online using the internet in 1995. That’s not a lot. Now, it’s like 98% of everybody is online. That shift happened over a couple of quick years after 1995. I feel like we are not quite there yet in the crypto space, but we are getting there quickly. What do you think about that? What do you think the timeframe is going to be?

I honestly think it’s going to vary by country. Back in 2016, I spent a lot of my time in Europe and Asia. Crypto was more adopted back there. In South Korea, more than 10% or 15% of the population already adopted BNX as a form of payment, which was incredible because we did not have those metrics in the United States.

Unfortunately, the United States, with all the regulatory changes that are going to be happening in the upcoming two years, it’s still very great. Even though crypto can function independently of the government, it makes a difference when the government aligns themselves to support that, unlike China and India that has struggled back and forth with the government to adopt it, to have it as a legal tender, and to have it as an acceptable method of payment. In Japan, South Korea and Switzerland, it has been more accepted and therefore more adopted. Entire cities are dedicated to using the technology in their day-to-day.

Estonia has implemented digital identity years before it was a thing to be considered and incorporated in the blockchain. They are working towards that. Switzerland has done the same for voting mechanisms in Zug. There are many different places that have been more friendly towards adoption. That’s what’s going to impact the overall adoption worldwide.

Some technologies are making it easier for people to become acquainted without having to truly understand how everything works. NFTs is one of them. NFTs have been associated exclusively with art in the past years, but NFTs can be used for so much more purposes, not just art. That’s what’s going to get people interested to learn more about the technology and how they can implement it.

We talk about NFTs a little bit so far on the show. Just a reminder for everybody that an NFT is a Non-Fungible Token. The easiest way to explain it is that it’s something that’s a unique asset and it’s a digital expression of that unique asset. What it is going to mean going forward in the stuff that Maru was talking about that is so important is the idea of it becoming smart contracts. You would have a smart contract that allows you to have all of the contract processes on the blockchain for the purposes of keeping the contract fully transparent. What that does is it helps to eliminate fraud or certainly reduce fraud.

YGA 9 | Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency: Even though crypto can function independent of the government, it makes a difference when the government aligns itself to support that.

 

There’s still the fraud of people trying to scam other people. I don’t know how else to explain that, but the fraud of the technology being able to help support the scam gets reduced a lot by the use of blockchain. Maru, you could not be any more right. I’m already looking into NFTs for real estate. I am so excited to see how it’s going to change everything from medical records to the way that we interact with the people like celebrities. There are football clubs that are creating their own NFTs. It’s going to be interesting to see how that moves forward over the next few years.

In relation to your point about the possibilities of fraudulent activity, what we have to understand is that NFT technology is still very early stage. There are limitations in the infrastructure. When we create NFTs in one platform, it does not automatically mean that that item is going to be reflected in other blockchains and other protocols. As such, there are still these connected limitations between the protocols. That’s what they called the interoperability issue that is still being worked on at the infrastructure level.

It’s like one thing does not talk to another thing. It’s like German and Spanish are not the same language.

That’s correct. There are opportunities for fraudulent activities because if somebody is watching closely the production of one transaction being built in one blockchain or one protocol but it’s not in the others, they may pretend to be you or to be the creator in that blockchain in another one and take the credit for it. There’s no policing activity over these kinds of activities.

It’s funny because in general, there’s no policing activity. I read that there is a $100 million settlement between the SEC and a company that was trying to say that it was a banking transaction and was not subject to the regulations of the bank. The SEC is like, “No. This is a securities transaction. It has all these other rules,” and then they ended up fining them $100 million, which sounds like a crazy amount of money. It’s pretty typical of what we are going to see as we move forward into regulation because there is so much money in the crypto space but it’s still the Wild West.

Regulations over the next couple of years are going to start to come into place but in the meantime, there are opportunities for so much stuff to fall through the cracks. I find that interesting because fortunes are being made in the meantime. It’s like the gold rush. A lot of money was made during the gold rush.

Some people were shot in the back, and some people were left dead by the side of the road because somebody stole their gold, and then other people thrived or created a community, town or whatever. A big chunk of America was founded during that time. I will be interested to see what happens. Not to get too down this rabbit hole, but I think that it may shift some of the balance of world power because some third world countries suddenly have access to this material, DeFi, blockchain and crypto.

It means that they don’t have to go through the regular banking systems, so poor people can be made wealthy quickly. Not everybody necessarily but it’s available. It’s very much a leveling of the playing field. I feel like some of the poor countries say, “Let’s make this adoption faster because it means that we are going to have a seat at the table of this new energy of money.” Do you agree with that?

Time is money. Time is very valuable. Recognize the opportunities that are present today. Click To Tweet

I 100% agree with that. I lived through a financial downfall of a currency. Back when I lived in Ecuador, we had the sucre. Due to different factors, the government imposed the US dollar on the population, setting it at a rate that was convenient for them. When you feel helpless like that or have lived through that, you understand what a difference it makes to have control over your money. No matter what the government does for the benefit of the country, you still have the power to say, “I will participate or not participate with that decision.”

As somebody that’s lived through something that as an American, I can only read about or imagine, what do you think about what’s going on with fiat currency? I said that word to my mom. She goes, “Fiat is a car.” I was like, “Okay.” I did not learn the word fiat until I started playing in the crypto space. It’s simply not a word that we call cash. We call it dollars. The accurate phrase to differentiate it from crypto is fiat. What do you think about what we are seeing with the American dollar and what the banks and the government are doing now? Does that look like a harbinger to you of what you saw happen in Ecuador or do you think that will stave off any big issues?

Honestly, it’s a scary situation because this is very similar to what it was in Ecuador from what I remember. The increase in inflation, the limited supplies are circulating, the fact that a lot of decision-making is being done in the background, and it’s not being exposed to the people that are subjected to it. We need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but preparing for the worst is what I say.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer about the situation. I’m very realistic and pragmatic. I recommend people to educate themselves on how much inflation has grown in the United States. What were some of the factors that led to that increase? What the Federal Reserve is doing to monitor the situation does not seem to be enough from my perspective. Just like I make the suggestion to diversify your portfolio with what assets you hold, you should also make a decision to have more than one currency under your belt. Whether it’s fiat or crypto, you should consider doing that.

Let’s talk about women because this show is geared more toward women than men, and yet the crypto space is still a bro space. There are a lot of men in the world. The uptake with women is not nearly as great as it is with men. That speaks to a long legacy of women not having money or not thinking that they are educated enough about money because it was withheld from them for so long. What do you think about women in the space? What are you doing to get more women in the space?

Involvement with women is critical. We are building the future. Women are 50% of the representation. That is not reflected in what is being built. I have been very passionate and adamant in involving women at all levels. Back in 2015 and 2016 when I was one of the few women around, it was not so shocking to be one of the few women because some considered them more technical.

Back then, the focus was entirely on technical topics. You can’t expect everyone to participate in the conversation, but I do think that it has evolved to a point where every input besides the technical input is critical and valuable. There are many avenues that people can contribute. Women, in general, tend to pursue less technical roles, but just because they are not pursuing the technical roles does not mean that their input is not valuable.

If you are doing a consumer-facing role or user-facing role and you are interacting with the people that are going to be using the technology, your input is so valuable. One of the things that a huge area of opportunity in this space is user experience design, which is one of the things that I focus on because I want to be able to simplify the technology so that anyone can participate. First, we need to build it.

YGA 9 | Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency: Some technologies are making it easier for people to become acquainted without truly understanding how everything works. NFTs are one of them.

 

Even when you are building, you need to have considerations. How would this be looked at by somebody that is engaging with the product? Would it deter you from participating? That’s an aspect that’s a little difficult to juggle, but I do think that there are many opportunities for women to get involved. I have been meeting with people individually to walk them through things step-by-step.

I have organized multiple meetups in Miami, specifically for women to gather in a safe environment where they can feel that they can talk to each other. It’s not excluding the men necessarily, but telling them like, “This is meant to be an environment where women can engage and comfortably ask questions,” because that’s often what they say to me. They are like, “I don’t feel comfortable asking my question. I’m a little bit intimidated by the presenters. I can ask you instead.”

I understand where that fear comes from because I have also been there. When first started, I was like, “Should I even raise my hand here or should I go and read it later and then find out more?” I understand that. There are now more women getting involved and more women are doing this many communities to help one another like lean in circles, where they are engaging with each other and being practical. It’s not just a theoretical conversation but something tangible.

If you are a woman and you are reading this and you are not in the crypto space yet at all, what would you recommend to a woman who’s interested in starting her first education and investment? I’m going to preface by saying that neither of us is a financial advisor. Please always do your own research. I love hearing what your advice would be to somebody who’s a total newbie who’s getting started.

Not to do what I did, which was trying to learn everything.

It’s like, “What? Four hours and I only scratched the surface of that thing? Tomorrow we will do it again.” I completely got you.

There are so many avenues. I would say first start with understanding what it is that you are passionate about. If you are interested in the finance route, there are many economists, traders, and legitimate financial advisors that you can follow on Twitter and Medium that will give you a lot of suggestions.

If you are interested in technical roles or if you want to become a blockchain developer, there are multiple academies where you can learn from all kinds of protocols. If you are interested in other aspects of blockchain, whether it’s design or marketing or community management, there are a lot of opportunities for you to engage in those activities through what they call DAOs. DAOs are Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. There are a lot of organizations that are incentivizing people to participate actively, try out, learn new skills, and give monetary rewards for those contributions.

It’s not just that you are spending your time. Time is money. Time is valuable. You are doing this for yourself. I would say just dive into whatever area you are interested in. Look online and on Twitter who are the influencers associated with that. I’m not saying influencers or the ones that promote, but influencers or the ones that are working in those roles.

If you are interested in tech, follow the CTO of the top exchanges. You will see those other opportunities. The algorithm will suggest other personalities that will help you understand the space more. It depends on what your interests are but Twitter is a good beginning strategy to follow the people that are actively working on these protocols. Also, there is a lot of educational content. I would not go to YouTube so much. I feel like YouTube has a lot of scammers. It’s not valuable education. It’s more like superficial education. That’s just my biased perspective.

It really depends on what your interests are. Twitter is a good beginning strategy to follow the people that are actively working on these protocols. There’s a lot of educational content. Click To Tweet

This is show excepted I’m sure, but I agree. They say that the people who are promoting the coins or whatever on YouTube is like, “If you have that much money, why are you on YouTube promoting your coin?” It does need to be taken with a grain of salt. Twitter is one of the best places. I came back to Twitter after many years of absence to start the GoddessOfCrypto Twitter account because I wanted to see what was going on. Now, if I’m doing my research, it’s the very first place that I go to. I will enter whatever that coin’s name is or I will enter the name of the person or whatever it is that I’m trying to vet on Twitter. I’m researching hundreds of tweets, which you can scroll fast to get that basic information. That’s super helpful.

Medium is a good resource as well. A lot of people use Medium, Twitter and Telegram as ways to communicate to their audiences. The only problem with that is getting scammed because somebody sends you a direct message. I would say that flat out. I have somebody who reached out to me. One of my women in crypto groups sent me a direct message. My hackles are automatically up. Once in a blue moon, you get somebody who’s so new. They are like, “I don’t know that we are not supposed to do this,” but when they say like, “I want to share information. You should come to this group.” At some point down the road, it’s inevitably going to turn into a scam and you need to block them and get off of it. Other than that, if it’s one way like you absorbing information as opposed to you giving out any details about you, it’s a great place. All those places that we talked about are great places to do your research.

If you are in channels, whether they are in Discord, Telegram, Signal or whatever, use the public channels to engage so that you can have some policing activity within the channels. The moderators in the channels are going to say, “This is not correct. This is not relevant. This person is a scammer,” or whatever. It’s best to engage in a public setting where multiple people in the community can help you with the answers that you are seeking.

Be careful in general. I’m talking to everybody because you get to the point where you can identify the scams mostly, but I followed twenty-post threads on Twitter of a guy who was super high up, totally in the technology space, was running a business, and got offered a partnership. He unpacked over this twenty thread post that it turned out to be a scam.

If he had not been super careful like people kept sending him stuff, but he had to give his wallet address to do it. He used a clean wallet that had nothing else on it. He went in and looked at the code, and the code was designed to be able to heist everything from the wallet. He was so shocked because being in the space 100% of the time, he’s like, “This happened to me.”

A lot of people like to get comfortable enough and you think that. I have watched friends get scammed out of a lot of money. I have talked about this story already at least once, but I have been a party to rug poles myself. I have lost whole Bitcoins and multiple Bitcoins. It’s very sad but you learn. It’s the cost of learning sometimes to lose an opportunity. There’s always another one, especially during the Wild Wild West of crypto. I have one more question for you. What’s one more thing that you would like our readers to know?

YGA 9 | Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency: If you’re looking for an environment where you want to go ahead first and engage with the community members in person or online, Miami is the place for that.

 

If you have not come to Miami, you should. The community is growing tremendously. Everyone from all over the world is coming to Miami because Miami has become somewhat of a safe haven during the conditions globally. The Brain Collective is experimenting. They are collaborating and everyone wants to support each other. If you are looking for an environment where you want to go head first and you want to engage with the community members in person and online and build together, Miami is the place for that. That’s what I would say. Hit me up because I can hook you up in Miami.

You have already hooked me up and you have already been a big influence on me. I’m very grateful to you for that. I love being here. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I’m in Miami. I was happy here before, but now that crypto has come to Miami, it’s amazing. Miami Mayor Suarez is the President of the US Mayor’s Association, but he’s pretty much also the president of like crypto forever because we were the first city coin that’s been out there. He’s the earliest of early adopters.

It’s interesting to watch some of the high-tech companies move if not to Miami per se, but at least to the whole corridor between Palm Beach and Miami, which are now dubbed Wall Street South because there are big finance companies that are moving their significant staff here. That’s so cool. I can’t wait to see what the next five years are going to look like. It’s going to be amazing.

I’m very excited. There are going to be a lot of opportunities for people to get involved. Miami has not been historically well-known for having a compensation that was competitive with the likes of New York and San Francisco, but I honestly think that’s going to change.

The housing price with it.

Come now.

Help drive the prices up. If people want to get ahold of you, say what your Twitter handle is out loud for people. That would be grand.

You can find me on all social media under @Marumover.

You are quite the mover in crypto. I’m so grateful that you took a sacred pause for a little while to come as a guest on the show.

I’m very grateful. I’m so happy to see you being proactive and engaging with the community, teaching and sharing your knowledge because that is how you make a difference individually. Thank you for your time and dedication.

Thank you so much. If you have enjoyed this episode, please like, comment, subscribe, and most importantly, share with other women. As you share this information with women and they share it with other women, we empower all women to come into this space, and to start to see and take advantage of the fact that the financial future is female. Thank you so much. Until next time.

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