In an exclusive interview at the Miami Crypto Experience, Eryka Gemma (aka Bank of Eryka) joins us to discuss why Miami is becoming the global capital of crypto.
As the Venture Director at a Digital Asset Hedge Fund, Eryka is well versed in bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain. In 2019, she co founded Blockchain Center Miami with a goal of making her city the crypto capital of the Americas. Over the years, Eryka has taught hundreds of people how to safely navigate the cryptocurrency space and writes a Bitcoin column for Escape Artist Insiders Magazine.
In 2012, Eryka was a delegate in Washington State for Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign. She graduated with honors from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelors in Aeronautics. She is a Gates scholar, private pilot and liberty enthusiast.
Website – https://www.bankoferyka.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/bankoferyka
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/erykagemma/
The following transcript was created using artificial intelligence. There will be some grammatical errors below.
00:00:00:27 – 00:00:27:04
Richard Carthon: Hey, everyone, your host here, Richard Carthon, we’re at the Miami Crypto Experience. Excited, of course, we have our COO Steven with us. And we have Eryka over here, who has been the emcee of the Miami Crypto Expo and has been incredible, gotten to learn a ton from you. One of the things that she brought up, actually, that I thought was really unique that I wanted to start out was you said that you started in aerospace and then somehow got into Crypto. Can you share that story with us?
00:00:27:09 – 00:01:03:16
Eryka Gemma: Yeah. So actually, I started off in, like, the liberty space. So, I campaigned for Ron Paul when I was 19, I was a delegate in Washington State for him. It wasn’t that hard. I know it seems cool, but it’s like politics is all about showing up. Nobody else showed up and I was a passionate kid, kind of like the passion of all that I am now. And then after Ron Paul, you know, I learned that the government was super corrupt. Like, we could go into it probably another time of the things that I learned about the back in ways that they do election fraud. You know, this whole election fraud thing that’s happening now, it’s not new. Like, it’s really not new. It’s been around for a while, but at least this time people cared, you know?
00:01:03:21 – 00:01:47:00
Eryka Gemma: So, anyways, after that happened, I’ve always liked aviation, I’ve always liked airplanes, so, I went to a school called Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I have a degree in aeronautics, I have my private pilot’s license. And then, I started working for a huge bank in their aircraft leasing division. So, buying, selling, trading commercial airplanes. It was like the top five aircraft lessor in the world and it was a bank called CIT Bank. And CIT Bank had this CEO at the time, his name was John Thain. Now, John Thain is a legendary bankster, okay? He’s a legend. Did the merger between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch makes fifty million dollars next week, Lehman Brothers falls, you know? And he just makes money and now he’s CEO of this bank that I’m working for.
00:01:47:02 – 00:02:18:26
Eryka Gemma: So, one day, he did a Q&A to everyone and it was all the young new hires and I wanted to ask him a good question, so I, like, racked my brain for a good question and I remembered Bitcoin. I learned about Bitcoin around the Ron Paul people, but it was like, you know, I just brain dumped everything because I was so broken-hearted about how corrupt the government actually was that I was just like, I’m not even going to remember that. I just forgot about it. And so, it was that moment when I remembered Bitcoin. This is 2016, went back down the rabbit hole, It was fantastic, so.
00:02:18:28 – 00:03:05:14
Steven Miller: That’s awesome. I mean, look, the fact that you have that deep origin story in the space is the thing that I think everybody that’s listening to this, the newcomers, the people that are just experiencing it for the first time right now, they’re going to have those stories of their own. And I think that when we look into the future and we see at least the insane expansion that we’ve got right now in the space, more of like, the stories like yours are going to keep popping up and it’s just going to make for the most incredible narrative by the time that we get through it. So, I want to kind of zig and zag for a second here because we’re talking about a lot of those people and meeting those people right now at Miami Crypto Experience and I really want to know, especially from your perspective as an emcee, what’s the experience been like for you? What do you think about what we’re doing here?
00:03:06:06 – 00:03:33:19
Eryka Gemma: So, Miami’s community with Bitcoin is very, very deep seeded. So, I used to have a Bitcoin center here in Miami. Unfortunately, we had to close down because of coronavirus. And so, I think this is I really have to say, and I don’t want to take all the credit because it’s not just me, it’s the entire community, but we would have events like, almost weekly, right? Teaching as many new people as possible in English and in Spanish about Bitcoin. And so, this is just like a grand extension of it.
00:03:33:24 – 00:04:06:20
Eryka Gemma: And so, what I love about this conference in particular is that you’ve got a lot of city officials here. Like, a lot of people probably don’t know they’re rubbing shoulders with commissioners, they’re rubbing shoulders with people that are from the mayor’s office. The FOP, the Fraternal Order of Police bought a batch of 20 tickets to this conference. I think if you see my group chat, I’m like all the cops are in my room right now, right? Like, the fire department. They all bought tickets here. So, there’s a lot of city employees that are here and I think that’s what makes it most interesting is that the minds of these people are captivated by Bitcoin.
00:04:06:22 – 00:04:57:07
Eryka Gemma: And also, you know, being in Miami, Miami is a very international city. This is literally not the United States. You will probably not find very few chain restaurants. Spanish is the main language. You cross the border into Broward and you’re like, Oh, I’m in America again, right? And the reason why is because Miami is like, every single person that was allowed and able and capable of getting out of the failing currencies and the failing countries in South and Latin America, they came here, right? So, you have a group of people that understand Bitcoin not because they want to get rich, but because they don’t want to get poor and they were able to escape their countries and so, when you tell them about Bitcoin, they either use it already to send money back to their family or they understand it from the concept of hyper inflation because they’ve seen hyper inflation.
00:04:57:14 – 00:05:15:24
Richard Carthon: Absolutely. And you brought up a lot of great points. And one of the things I’ve enjoyed about your emceeing along the way, like, there’s a couple of different events that you’ve helped people bring on the stage. One was when there was a debate between Bitcoin versus Bitcoin Cash versus BSV, which, you know, great job, by the way.
00:05:16:15 – 00:05:17:00
Eryka Gemma: Thank you.
00:05:17:02 – 00:05:52:29
Richard Carthon: Handling that fire. But you are very articulate and you do a lot with education, with everything that you do and that’s what we’re all about. We want to empower and make sure that everything is inclusive with the information that we provide. And like you said, from people coming here who understand like, scarcity and the need for Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, one thing that you said that I thought was an excellent explanation of the Internet. I just want you to just spend two seconds on that because I think you did a great job. The seven layers of the Internet versus layer one, layer two of what is now Crypto. Would you mind just spending a little bit of time on that? I found it very fascinating.
00:05:53:04 – 00:06:16:23
Eryka Gemma: Yeah, for sure. And you know, the seven layers of the Internet concept also to me, shows why proof of work really is the only system that is going to work, right? So, first of all, many people don’t know this, but there are seven different layers of the tech stack for the Internet that we use today. Now, most people don’t know that, but you all use the Internet, okay? And this is kind of how we view Bitcoin and the Blockchain.
00:06:17:26 – 00:06:47:05
Eryka Gemma: The Bitcoin, Blockchain has one layer, which is just that core ledger layer and the second layer that’s being built on top of it right now is called Lightning Network. And Lightning Network is still being developed, it’s getting better and better, but it is technology, you know, and it is technology of money, so, we don’t necessarily want them to rush the development of it. But this second layer of Lightning, what it’s doing is it’s bringing a level of anonymity back to Bitcoin, which is great because Bitcoin itself is not really anonymous anymore.
00:06:47:07 – 00:06:47:29
Richard Carthon: Not at all.
00:06:48:11 – 00:07:01:05
Eryka Gemma: Yeah. But I mean, just the concept of like, you know, there are seven layers of the Internet, nobody knows that, but we still use it. And that’s what’s going to happen on the Blockchain. And Blockchain, some people see Blockchain as the eighth layer, but I see it as a whole new tech stack.
00:07:01:28 – 00:07:25:20
Steven Miller: I mean, look, it’s really interesting stuff. And I mean, I think that you also touched on something really core to what we’ve been talking about with our Clubhouse sessions. Through the last couple weeks, we’ve been really diving a lot deeper into the importance of these different models and experimenting with things like, proof of network, proof of consensus, proof of stake. Can you, like, dive a little bit deeper into it as to why you personally think that proof of work is the only model that will work?
00:07:25:22 – 00:08:17:29
Eryka Gemma: Yeah. So, proof of work is the only model that will work, because if we tie it back to what we already know, which is this tech stack of the Internet, that first initial layer is the physical exchange of these bits into, you know, Internet or whatever, right? So, that’s why when you see, like the cloud and George Gilder has a book called The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy and he talks about this concept where he says that, you know, the cloud people think, Oh, it’s this ethereal, it’s up in the sky like gray, you know? No, it’s rooms, computers, data centers running, using so much energy. But nobody pulls metrics and complains about that because, you know, freaking Jeff Bezos on The Washington Post are up there and they own that and they’re not going to let that narrative of the like, environmentalists attack their product.
00:08:18:05 – 00:08:56:23
Eryka Gemma: But it’s the same product that Bitcoin offers where you do have computers that are running math problems that are necessary. Now, the reason why I think that proof of work is, you know, and let me be clear, for money, I think proof of work is necessary because you need to have anybody in the world be able to plug in and access this, right? Now, proof of stake is probably a good option for maybe more protocol things for more tech based things for specific situations, but when it comes to something that you want the entire world to view as money, as a digital gold, you want the ability and you want that barrier to entry to be fairly low and that’s proof of work.
00:08:56:25 – 00:09:33:00
Richard Carthon: Absolutely. It’s the most secure way to do it and if you look at a lot of these new ICOs that have launched that have had some not great experiences is because they were built. It was a lot of proof of stake models that didn’t add those extra layers of security, that proof of work offers. But looking more granularly, I mean, we’ve now been here for some, four days, but for us, we’ve been here for four for three days, but a lot of amazing things have happened at the Miami Crypto Experience. You know, what are some of your most memorable moments? And even for tonight, we have some exciting things going to happen tonight. Can you kind of tease that up a little bit?
00:09:33:02 – 00:09:53:16
Eryka Gemma: Yeah, sure. So, most memorable moments. I don’t remember a lot of what happened, it just moved so fast, man. But it’s like, for me, my most memorable is just meeting some of the girls, right? I love having women around. More women should be in the space and I’m always like, ladies, don’t you love purchasing power? Like what’s going on? So, I’m like, you got to get Bitcoin.
00:09:53:18 – 00:10:16:01
Eryka Gemma: But the thing I love about Miami, and I’m sure you guys appreciate this, too, is there’s a lot of chicks out there, right? Most pickling conferences, not a lot of girls, but here in Miami, like, they definitely come out. If you guys came out to the rave last night, it was a lot of people, super fun. Hopefully our Bitcoin friends found some friends in Miami. But keep your private keys private, guys. Just saying, girls in Miami are crazy.
00:10:16:09 – 00:11:06:00
Eryka Gemma: Anyways, but I think my most memorable is like I made a couple of girlfriends here that I think that I’m going to hire, keep or something like that, we’ll see. And then, tonight is going to be really fun, I was actually really looking forward to tonight. So, the Crypto community, while we are like a group of super intelligent people, we’re also creatives. We’re also like the wacky artists and, you know, everybody has their own, like, side gig. So, a bunch of people are coming together tonight and we’re doing like, an open mic night. So, I’ve got like some, I think I have two comedians, I have somebody who’s doing a skit, which they’re going to have people fight in the skit. I personally am going to be singing a song that I wrote, somebody else is going to be singing a song. Somebody else is going to rap, like, so it’s going to be pretty interesting. I actually have someone who is going to do a shamanic prayer performance. So, yeah, let’s see what happens.
00:11:06:09 – 00:11:34:14
Eryka Gemma: But to me, it’s like, let us show our talents, right? And I really believe that that’s something important that everyone needs to carry in life is if you have a talent, you were required to use it. Like, if you know how to make money, you’re required to make money because not a lot of people know how to. Some of the unhappiest people in the world are brilliant people who are poor because they don’t know how to get outside of the system, you know? So, if you can sing, if you have the ability to, like, create music for people, do it.
00:11:34:16 – 00:11:59:19
Eryka Gemma: And so, I want to give to the community, because the community is fantastic in Miami. I mean, when I have an event, I have guys who carpool down from West Palm and they all drive down together. It’s like, really like, I love it. If you’re in my chat room, you’ll see people talk to each other a lot because they’ve all met in person multiple times, right? So, I just want them to have a platform to be able to share what their talents are, outside of just being tech people.
00:11:59:26 – 00:12:31:18
Steven Miller: You know, I personally love that. And I think that the more that we start valuing what each of us brings to the table, it’s only going to make the community better, right? So, while you have all this exposure to every single different talent layer that everybody here brings, we also know that you are multitalented and we’ve clearly gotten into that already, right? The fact that, you know, you’re a songwriter, you’re an emcee, you’re a Crypto genius, help me understand your brand at the end of the day, because I want to like, get our listeners a little bit more exposure to you and what you do on a regular basis. What are your day to day talents?
00:12:31:29 – 00:12:41:12
Eryka Gemma: Yeah, sure. So, they refer to me as the Bank of Eryka, Bank of E-R-Y-K-A. Find me on Twitter because they deleted me on Instagram.
00:12:41:14 – 00:12:41:29
Richard Carthon: No.
00:12:43:00 – 00:13:05:17
Eryka Gemma: Yeah. This is a stupid story, but yeah, they deleted me on Instagram, so it’s fine. I have like, an Instagram, but I just never use it. And I only saved because Eryka is a little off, so I saved Bank of E-R-I-C-A just to keep it, but I never use it. Why am I going to give Zukerberg my data? He already deleted me like, thank you because I was addicted, you know? So, right?
00:13:06:09 – 00:13:39:18
Eryka Gemma: But on a day to day, so, I’m actually a venture director at a digital asset hedge fund. So, Bitcoin hedge fund. Mostly Bitcoin, but we do other Cryptocurrency. It is offshore, so, technically, like, I’m not allowed to market and tell you guys exactly where I work. But it’s great and I like it because what’s happened is that because of my exposure at the Blockchain center, because I was so community focused beforehand, I know what a good project looks like and I have become the central point. But beforehand I couldn’t get financing, but now when I see a good project, I’m like, let’s have a meeting. Like, let’s see if we can give you guys some dollars and make this successful.
00:13:39:20 – 00:14:10:13
Eryka Gemma: So, that’s kind of like my day to day, but on a personal level, I mean, I used to do a lot of the retail market teaching about Bitcoin, a lot of one-on-ones, a lot of city officials. Now, what I do is I teach mostly high net worth individuals. I still do a lot with the city, trying to make sure they all are very primed on this, but I still love the retail market type stuff. So, just today, I gave away like $40 in Litecoin, mostly to cops. And I was like, Hey guys, I’m never going to get in trouble in Miami, right? And they’re just laughing, but yeah.
00:14:10:15 – 00:14:24:13
Eryka Gemma: So, I mean, I love the retail market and so, if you go on my website, you can actually book time with me and I help people just navigate the Crypto space. I don’t give financial advice because I’m not allowed to, but people don’t know how to send Bitcoin from one wallet to another.
00:14:24:15 – 00:14:25:00
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:14:25:02 – 00:14:25:25
Eryka Gemma: And that’s what I like to help people with.
00:14:25:27 – 00:14:26:22
Richard Carthon: And what is that website?
00:14:27:00 – 00:14:28:26
Eryka Gemma: Bank of Eryka, E-R-Y-K-A.com.
00:14:30:06 – 00:14:40:25
Richard Carthon: Perfect. And, you know, one final like, fun question I always like to ask is with the wealth of knowledge that you have right now, if you could take all of that and impart some wisdom, what’s like, one to three things you would tell yourself?
00:14:41:19 – 00:14:42:18
Eryka Gemma: Yeah.
00:14:42:20 – 00:14:43:15
Richard Carthon: Like when you first got started, of course.
00:14:43:17 – 00:15:28:03
Eryka Gemma: When I first got started? Buy more Bitcoin. So, when I first got started in Bitcoin, I would say for a while I was really stuck on the maximalists thing, didn’t diversify at all, you know? And I think that is a hive mind set, I don’t think that it’s actually proper. I think that none of these other coins claim to be sound money. And I think Bitcoiners need to understand that, right? Like, Ethereum is not like, I’m sound money, they’re a dev tool for cool projects to be built on. Bitcoin is the only digital gold, and that’s not even disputed. But then you have these Bitcoin maximalists who get so furious at you. And I understand there’s a lot of scams in the system and it turns people away from Bitcoin and that’s why they do that.
00:15:28:21 – 00:16:14:01
Eryka Gemma: But now that I know what I know, I definitely would have diversified into some coins that I know have done well earlier, right? Yeah, so, there’s that. The other thing is probably like, free is never really free, right? And I like to tell people this because you use Gmail, you use G Suite and it’s so convenient and I actually really love it because it’s so convenient. Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, but when you do that and it’s free, we are the product, right? And so, there is a reason why data is more expensive than oil. And I’m not getting paid and you guys aren’t getting paid, but we gotta figure this out. And so, I really like Blockchain projects that are trying to solve that issue of bringing the data and the monetization of data back to the individual.
00:16:14:15 – 00:16:26:29
Steven Miller: Not that they’re sponsored or anything, but if you can direct our listeners to figure out, you know, a little bit more about those projects, are there any that really stand out to you that you’ve been looking into that you think that they may find valuable?
00:16:27:03 – 00:16:28:01
Eryka Gemma: For social media?
00:16:29:00 – 00:16:30:21
Steven Miller: You know, yes, specifically for social media.
00:16:30:26 – 00:17:36:19
Eryka Gemma: Okay. So, one that I like is LBRY, L-B-R-Y.io. And the thing about them is that they’re actually in trouble with the FTC, which to me shows they’re doing good stuff, okay? And then, like, another one is this DeFi platform that’s being worked on right now with Adam Levine. If you guys who Adam Levine is, he does the Let’s Talk Bitcoin show. And he’s been working on a DeFi platform. Sorry, it’s an NFT platform that he’s been building this NFT platform before NFTs were this huge craze. So, I can’t wait for his to get launched and because all these other NFT platforms, they’re doing one thing, like a one trick pony type stuff, and they have not had the same issues, roadblock solutions that Adam has been building for years. So, I’m really excited for his NFT platform to come forward. And you can learn more about that at, what is it called? Token FM. I think it’s Token.FM, that’s the website for that. And then, I like Float. If I didn’t say Float, Float is a great app, a lot of liberty minded people on there. I hear that Mind’s as good, I don’t use it.
00:17:36:27 – 00:17:37:12
Richard Carthon: Minds.com?
00:17:37:14 – 00:17:38:10
Eryka Gemma: Yeah, minds.com.
00:17:38:12 – 00:17:40:09
Richard Carthon: Yeah, we actually had the CEO on the show a long time ago.
00:17:40:12 – 00:18:25:23
Eryka Gemma: Oh cool, very cool. Yeah. And then, you know, everybody’s getting kicked off YouTube. Anybody good is off YouTube, most of them. So, I really suggest that people go to BitChute. BitChute is not really like a Blockchain platform, but they are very privacy focused. So, BitCute is a great one. And then, it’s another one. Yeah, BitChute’s good. That’s probably a good list. Oh also, oh yeah. I haven’t made it yet, but Twetch, it’s built on BSV. And here’s the thing, just that block size debate yesterday, my conclusion is Bitcoin is digital gold. Nobody’s going to dispute that. Bitcoin Cash is digital cash, like, I’d rather send Bitcoin Cash than Bitcoin because the fees are just so high you can’t, right?
00:18:25:25 – 00:18:26:10
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:18:26:12 – 00:18:38:19
Eryka Gemma: And you just have to, right? And nobody is going to dispute that. Yeah, anyways, that the fees are lower and then BSV is not money. Like it’s not money, it’s just not. And I don’t even think anybody on BSV is saying that it’s money.
00:18:38:21 – 00:18:39:06
Richard Carthon: No.
00:18:39:08 – 00:19:16:02
Eryka Gemma: Yeah. It’s a way to create platforms using the hashing network of the Bitcoin miners. And so, I mean, BSV has built multiple social media platforms and he named them from the stage yesterday, Twetch being one of them. They have a competitor to Instagram, they also have a competitor to YouTube that you can just build on BSV because their block sizes are large. It’s not digital money. Like, really, I would never use BSV and I would never tell anybody to use it as money. But it is a protocol layer that allows for us to dissimediate Silicon Valley and all their, you know, profiting off my data, so.
00:19:17:01 – 00:19:22:16
Steven Miller: Well, look, I do need to ask one quick follow up. And again, and it’s only because I would be remiss not to ask this question.
00:19:22:18 – 00:19:23:03
Eryka Gemma: Okay.
00:19:23:05 – 00:19:31:13
Steven Miller: Because there’s something missing from the debate and I noticed it yesterday. And you’ve already mentioned that you gave it away to the police. What about Litecoin? Where does it fit into the argument?
00:19:31:24 – 00:20:25:00
Eryka Gemma: So, you know, the free market allows people to choose what they want to do, right? Litecoin is going to be there, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. But Litecoin is less expensive and faster than Bitcoin BTC. Even my wallet app right now, it says high fees right now on BTC. So, I sent all the police like five dollars, right? It was I think a ten cent transaction fee and instantly, even before I took my phone away from them because I had them do the exercise on my phone, sending it to themselves, the Litecoin already arrived. That just wouldn’t happen with Bitcoin. And I don’t even want that to happen with Bitcoin, right? Because Bitcoin is digital gold and gold is slow. Gold is hard to move. Let’s just keep it like that, it’s fine. But we need to make sure that we have other alternatives because people still do need to spend the money quickly and it doesn’t need to be BTC that they use that for.
00:20:25:19 – 00:20:43:16
Richard Carthon: I agree. I mean, you unpacked a ton of great resources for us. You added to the debate, so, definitely appreciate that. You gave a reason for everyone that did not attend this event to come to future events. And actually, we had Wayne on earlier, so, he already spilled the beans that they are coming back in October. So, I’m really excited for that.
00:20:43:18 – 00:20:49:15
Richard Carthon: But Eryka, thank you so much for spending some time with us. We really appreciate it. And of course, for everyone listening, Stay Crypto Current
Crypto Current will be guiding all of you who are new to the cryptocurrency world to becoming a cryptocurrency and blockchain expert. Crypto Current was founded to give access to information to everyone on current events occurring in cryptocurrency and blockchain in a digestible way. Since its creation, we have created content that impacted thousands of people through its podcast, blog, and social media.