Women Of The Blockchain: Elizabeth White, CEO of The White Company
Elizabeth White: “The cryptocurrency boom has created a new asset class, bringing forward newly wealthy individuals who were experimenting with mining bitcoin or buying various coins in the early days. Usability is one thing really holding crypto back from mainstream adoption and is exactly what we’re addressing at The White Company. Because of this, we’ve been able to help so many people buy things with crypto that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford with fiat. This includes helping a 16-year-old purchase his first car, a Nissan GT-R with bitcoin he owned from mining it and even an engagement ring and then their honeymoon for another client. Real world purchases that enhance their lives and are only possible through using their crypto.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth White, CEO of The White Company. Since launching The White Company in early 2017 as a luxury marketplace for crypto holders looking to purchase real world goods/experiences or simply cash out into fiat, Elizabeth has worked with over 22,000 clients. On June 6, The White Company launched the USD-backed White Standard stablecoin and White Wallet, furthering her mission to provide real world usability and access to crypto holders. Through White Standard and White Wallet, individuals can harness the low cost, quick speed of crypto without any of the volatility, while being able to purchase goods or liquidate holdings into cash.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
What started as a personal crypto investing hobby in 2011 blossomed into a luxury goods concierge service in 2017, where I began helping the newly-minted “crypto wealthy” spend their fortunes on luxury goods. My traditional background was in luxury, auto and racing, having worked with brands ranging from LVMH, McLaren Automotive and Formula 1. After becoming fascinated with crypto I was looking for ways to merge my two passions, resulting in the launch of The White Company in 2017. My first sale was a laptop in early 2017, but quickly moved to larger, more expensive items such as Lamborghinis and other rare items/experiences.
From purchasing laptops to Lamborghinis in only 3 months’ time, I rapidly grew my active high-net worth client base, facilitating purchases of artwork, homes, electronics, exclusive travel experiences, and over a dozen Lambos. After experiencing “crypto fraud” firsthand on the well-regarded crypto exchange Cointal, I recognized that cryptocurrency holders, investors, and spenders need a more secure, trusted and stable option — which lead to the creation and launch of the White Standard stable coin and multi-function White Wallet under The White Company umbrella. My ambition is to build a brand regarded as the “White Knight” in the cryptocurrency community, and as a champion for greater stability, transparency, and liquidity in the global crypto market — benefiting seasoned and entry-level cryptocurrency holders, alike.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
We recently launched a USD-backed stable coin called the White Standard along with our White Wallet that gives users all the benefits of cryptocurrencies without any volatility. We believe that usability and true liquidity of crypto is what’s standing in the way of its mainstream adoption. Our White Wallet allows any user to “cash out” without any of the limits or fees they would encounter with other exchanges and wallets, while our White Standard creates an easy way to move in and out of various cryptocurrencies and fiat currency. Our goal is to create a payments ecosystem of consumers and merchants alike who use our technology for faster transaction speeds and lower costs. Another unique aspect is our decision to build on the Stellar protocol, which allows for even faster transaction speeds compared to other blockchains and ensures more seamless scalability.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
John Perry Barlow, founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, was one of the biggest influences on my life. A cyber-libertarian and political activist who worked with both the Democratic and Republican parties, he was influential in my mission to democratize cryptocurrency and ensure equal access to innovative technologies such as bitcoin. He was a personal friend and advisor to me and my team until he passed away earlier this year.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
a) Increased efficiencies for our financial system
a. Crypto and blockchain technologies allow for cheaper costs than traditional wire transfer methods. If our economy decides to work with innovation, there could be a promising future where bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are embraced by our financial system.
b) Lower costs for merchants
a. Our recently launched stablecoin, the White Standard, and White Wallet system have immense potential for merchants and retailers. Most importantly, we can provide no chargebacks for merchants and cheaper costs than traditional credit cards.
c) Globalization of money
a. One of the main pillars of crypto is its ability to build instant financial connectivity for anyone, anywhere. That is something I’m truly excited about and we’re thrilled to be part of that potential through our stable coin and wallet that allows for anyone to “cash out” their crypto or actually use it to purchase real world items.
d) Diversification of investments/assets
a. Through the growth of our luxury marketplace, we found that a lot of our clients were using various coins as a way to diversify their assets. Through the advent of stable coins, people can hold wealth in a digital currency without any of the volatility of other coins. In addition, the weal management platform that we are building will allow investors to access professionally managed funds in stocks, real estate, options and other non- cryptocurrency markets so they can effectively diversify their holdings and not be exposed to a declining cryptocurrency market. The first fund on the platform, Apis Token, is a proven equities volatility strategy that has returned 70% per year and is less than 2% correlated to the price of bitcoin.
e) Security and Privacy
a. These are the other main pillars of crypto along with the globalization of money. This new way of transferring value and communicating in a P2P fashion allows for people to take back control of their privacy. Also, they don’t need to necessarily trust third-parties to hold onto to their money. Similar to cash, users can store their “private keys” offline and securely, ensuring they’re fully protected.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
a) Regulatory hesitation
a. We’re of the mindset that the way for crypto to become fully engrained in our society is twofold: first, there needs to be real world usability for it, and secondly, native governments need to recognize its potential, encourage innovation, and regulate appropriately. Too stringent regulation or too much hesitation and uncertainty may cause certain companies working on important projects to move to more welcoming jurisdictions.
b) Bad actors
a. This is one area where we’re particularly concerned. I actually filed a lawsuit and won a Delaware Superior Court judgement against Cointal, a P2P cryptocurrency exchange, their CEO and their accomplice. The defendant in the suit worked with an internal employee to manipulate transactions and stole the funds I was working to transfer. This in part inspired our launch of the White Standard and White Wallet after we realized there wasn’t a fully trusted and transparent marketplace out there. We’re working to be a “White Knight” and educate consumers on the need for due diligence before working with anyone in this still nascent industry.
c) Lack of transparency
a. At this point, there’s no surprise transparency is something I value more than almost anything else in this industry. The ICO hype we’ve seen has caused many to invest in coins without a product or even a simply laid out white paper. People think it’s “easy money” because of the early success of other launched coins. In reality, that early success opened the floodgates for “entrepreneurs” to “launch” coins offering innovative ideas and concepts but without a product, resulting in them running away with funds and leaving many helpless. Before investing in anything, it’s critical to understand the risk and ensure you trust the parties involved.
d) Financial institution envy
a. Similar to the regulatory angle, we need banks and other financial institutions to work with the industry to ensure true adoption. Many are working with technologies such as Ripple, but we need to encourage synergy. Bitcoin and other decentralized projects can of course exist in line with centralized projects and traditional banks — it’s just about educating both the consumer and institutional market on crypto’s many benefits.
e) Confusion for the masses
a. Everything from bitcoin’s early reputation as a way to fund criminal activity to today’s fraudulent ICOs, it is imperative that the masses are educated on the clear distinction of innovative projects for the betterment of the community or destructive and manipulative ones. Market education is so important and without it, people will be either too intimated or confused to enter the space.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
The cryptocurrency boom has created a new asset class, bringing forward newly wealthy individuals who were experimenting with mining bitcoin or buying various coins in the early days. Usability is one thing really holding crypto back from mainstream adoption and is exactly what we’re addressing at The White Company. Because of this, we’ve been able to help so many people buy things with crypto that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford with fiat. This includes helping a 16-year-old purchase his first car, a Nissan GT-R with bitcoin he owned from mining it and even an engagement ring and then their honeymoon for another client. Real world purchases that enhance their lives and are only possible through using their crypto.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
Never get discouraged — Most of my life has been spent in male-dominated industries. It was tough to break through in the auto and racing world, but through pure perseverance I was able to make my mark. The crypto world is no different. Women need to take credit for their work, not be afraid to get involved and engage in the important dialogues occurring both online and in-person at conferences, events and meetups.
Surround yourself with brilliant and positive people — coming from more of a business background rather than a tech one, I had to ensure I surrounded myself with the best team possible to launch The White Company and our recent White Standard and White Wallet. Make relationships and network with those who have different strengths than yourself. In the Wild West of crypto, people need to stick together and build lasting teams that can weather whatever storms may arise.
Always be learning — this industry is complex! It’s a unique combination of math, science, economics and sociology — trying to build products that both resonate with the masses and still have business applications in our current economy is tough. Always be reading and learning more about other projects and concepts. We need more dialogue in this space and the only way to accomplish that is through communication and an eagerness to always be learning from everyone.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
It sounds cliché, but Satoshi Nakamoto. Nobody knows who he/she is, but it would be fascinating to hear about the inspiration behind bitcoin and the original white paper that kicked off this entire digital revolution
Yitzi Weiner is a journalist, author, and the CEO of Thought Leader Incubator, a leading business incubator based in Maryland.
Yitzi is the author of five books and is the Editor-In-Chief of Authority Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and contributed to Forbes and The Huffington Post. In 2017, he created the popular, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” series that highlights the lessons learned from the experiences of high-profile entrepreneurs and public figures.
Yitzi is also a dynamic educator, teacher, and orator. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and children.