When Beauty Meets Bitcoin
by WSNXT Team·
A quick intro to Bitcoin
If you keep up to date at all with the world of finance, you’ll have heard about the recent ascendance of cryptocurrency. In a time when the coronavirus pandemic has devastated economies and industries around the world, crypto is one of the only commodities that has shown growth over the past year – dramatic, near-exponential growth, at that.
This time last year, Bitcoin was vacillating within the range of US$5,000 to US$8,000. Throughout 2020, its price increased 300%. Just three days ago, Bitcoin hit an all-time high, clocking in at just over US$60,000. Since the start of 2021, that number hasn’t fallen below US$30,000. For perspective, that’s a 930% increase comparing today’s Bitcoin price to its average last March.
Who are the celebrity endorsers of Bitcoin?
Crypto proponents are crowing with glee – from business magnate Elon Musk to boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, from Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher to ex-Presidential candidate Kanye West. If this list of celebrities has struck you as overwhelmingly male, that is perhaps because the world of finance is notoriously male-dominated.
Bitcoin has skyrocketed over the past few months, prompting renewed discussion of its potential and pitfalls alike. Makeup guru and famed YouTuber Michelle Phan has a mind to set this to rights and introduce enterprising young women to DeFi, through something you’re probably already going: online shopping.
Let's talk about Michelle Phan
In addition to being a long time investor in crypto, Phan is a prominent figure in the beauty community. Long before James Charles, there was Michelle Phan, who started posting makeup videos on Youtube in 2007 – the early days of the platform – when she was just 16 years old. In the years since, her channel has grown to 8.86 million subscribers despite a 2-year hiatus. She branched into commercial ventures through her beauty subscription box IPSY (again, among the first of its kind; in the years since, similar subscription services have exploded in popularity); the company was valued at US$500 million by the time she left in 2015 to launch her own makeup line with L’Oreal: Em Cosmetics.
Phan later bought out L’Oreal’s share of the company and relaunched it under her own direction, to great success. That is not even to speak of the influencer content creation network, self-help book, and music licensing company Phan has had a hand in creating. Suffice it to say that Phan is a self-made multimillionaire with impressive business acumen, something her followers are well aware of.
Phan’s audience remains mostly younger women with an interest in beauty, lifestyle, and culture – not the average Bitcoin enthusiast. Yet Phan has not been shy in promoting crypto across her socials: she shared her investment journey in a podcast on fellow famed Youtuber NigaHiga’s channel, which boasts 21.4 million subscribers; her Twitter bio simply says “#bitcoin” and her Instagram profile of 2 million followers shows a dedicated highlight entitled “Earn Bitcoin” that advertises Lolli, a rebates platform the likes of Rakuten or Honey that gives you cash back in the form of Bitcoin on every purchase made from one of its supported brands, numbering over 1,000 and including such major retailers as Sephora, Nike, eBay, Postmates, Microsoft, and more.
This kind of synthesis of crypto and consumer culture allows individuals who would otherwise be extremely unlikely to be exposed to Bitcoin and other alternative currencies to effortlessly enter into the fray, and, more importantly, introduces the world of crypto in an approachable, familiar way to a demographic too often alienated by the finance industry.
Phan’s endorsement speaks volumes: as the first woman to reach more than 1 million subscribers on Youtube, as a self-made woman of colour in the business world, and an inspiration to millions of young girls, her words pack a punch. In an interview with Coindesk, Phan explained her fervent advocacy for Bitcoin by saying that just as how Youtube was “the decentralization of content,” Bitcoin represented “the decentralization of power.” This statement echoes sociopolitical sentiments that have shown themselves in popular movements across the world over the past few years. As people begin to become more aware of and opposed to institutional barriers to social mobility and ever-increasing financial inequality throughout every country, calls for justice have taken centre-stage, manifested in social movements from Black Lives Matter to the Reddit GameStop stock short squeeze.
The "risk-free" crypto investment
The inherent spirit of Bitcoin, any crypto enthusiast will tell you with zeal, is the disruption of traditional financial structures. As a decentralized virtual currency, Bitcoin by nature broadens the scope of traditional investment beyond the very institutional powerhouses propped up by and perpetuating the existing system that younger generations have taken increasing issue with. This is by no means to say that crypto is without its considerable risks and weaknesses. Many regulators and government authorities have expressed concern over its suitability for criminal use, as well as its dangerous volatility and potential for exploitation of the uninformed.
Yet Phan’s introduction of Bitcoin to her young, female audience is unlikely to trigger any of these potential hazards. Rebate platforms are common and very much beneficial to the consumer; I would suggest that one be used, crypto or otherwise, for anybody who shops online even semi-regularly. They provide cash back for any purchase you make (usually a percentage of the customer’s expenditure), at no extra cost to the customer and with just a click to activate the extension or portal site. It is, quite literally, “free money.” Popular sites such as Rakuten have been saving customers money through charging merchants commissions to attract customers, then rewarding those same customers part of the fee since 1998. Lolli functions in much the same way, but provides those rebates in the form of Bitcoin.
It is rather surprising that the incorporation of crypto into online shopping has not become more widespread; like digital currencies, e-commerce has taken the world by storm – just think about the last time you bought something off Amazon, or thrifted from Depop. As such, it seems only natural that increasing intersections of Bitcoin and consumer goods such as beauty products will bring two seemingly disparate worlds together. Next time you’re browsing Sephora, why not activate Lolli and get a fraction of free Bitcoin to go with your purchase?