Transfers between maricoin users are called “trans.”
The maricoin, a play on words taken from a homophobic slur in Spanish, was launched on New Year’s Eve in a week-long pilot test involving 10 businesses in Chueca, known as the LGBTQ+ neighborhood of Spain’s capital, Madrid, according to Reuters.
Co-founder Juan Belmonte, a hairdresser and entrepreneur, said the idea came up at a party with friends at the Pride of Madrid in July 2021
The coin’s website describes maricoin as “a social ethical, transparent and transversal means of payment with which you will be able to operate from 2022 in the main exchanges and buy in your favorite establishments with special documents.”
The economic power of the LGBTQ+ community is substantial. LGBT adults globally have a combined buying power of roughly $3.7 trillion per year, according to LGBT Capital.
“Since we move this economy, why shouldn’t our community profit from it, instead of banks, insurance companies or big corporations that often don’t help LGBTQ+ people?” Belmonte told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Maricoin is backed by Miami-based venture capital firm Borderless Capital. Neither maricoin nor Borderless Capital responded immediately to a request for comment.
Lee Badgett, economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said that “LGBTQ+ activists have figured out how to harness the economic power of LGBTQ+ workers and consumers in many other ways using standard government-issued currencies.”
“It’s not obvious to me what this new cryptocurrency adds beyond providing a new opportunity to talk about the importance of economic inclusion for LGBTQ+ people,” said Badgett, author of “The Economic Case for LGBT Equality: Why Fair and Equal Treatment Benefits Us All.” As for the name, Badgett said it wouldn’t be the first time LGBTQ people tried to reclaim a slur.
“That’s where queer and dyke came from, for example, and many LGBTQ+ people now use those terms,” she said. Reaction on social media has been harsh, with several posters taking offense at the coin’s name and others charging that it’s a scam or a gimmick. The cryptocurrency industry is not regulated.
“Lol how’s the coin lgbt?” one person said on Twitter. “Lol and they named it a spanish insult. Amazing.” Another declared that “Queer people don’t need a specific currency for liberation!!”
Keegan Francis, Crypto & bitcoin specialist, with Finder, advised people that “before investing in a new cryptocurrency venture you need to do your research – look up the founders, read their whitepapers and see what kind of reputation they have.”
“They should liquidate their assets and donate them to shelters for homeless youth,” another person tweeted. “Liberation is not having our own currency when most LGBT+ people live in precarious situations and close to poverty across the world,” the person tweeted.