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Former U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios on closing the gender investing gap

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Rosie Rios, Former Treasurer of the United States & “Unicorn Hunters” co-host, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss crypto and closing the gender investing gap.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. Recently, Blockchain startup Ripple announced that former US treasurer Rosie Rios was appointed to its board of directors. And the former treasurer who was confirmed unanimously by the US Senate back in 2009 is joining us now to talk about that and so much more. Let's start there, though, with this move because they're embattled with the SEC right now in a legal fight. You have the banking expertise that might help them in that fight. What do you want the average citizen to know about your now being on that board?

ROSIE RIOS: Well, I think for me to join the board of Ripple sends a clear message that I support cryptocurrency. I think in my opinion, the train has already left the station. And the reason why I selected Ripple was because it is one of the few cryptos out there that actually have a legitimate and credible use by facilitating cross-border payments with financial institutions. So it was a kind of a big step for me. But I think, again, it sends a clear message that it is a virtual currency.

SEANA SMITH: And Treasurer Rios, I know a lot of people will say that the idea for cryptocurrency or one of the things here is that it democratizes finance, something that you are very passionate about, something that you really believe. And I guess, what role do you see cryptocurrencies playing in this? And then, more broadly speaking, what else needs to be done in order to democratize finance here?

ROSIE RIOS: Well, I think virtual currency in general provides another option for a lot of people who otherwise would not have access to capital or to the banking system. And so, whether it is the unbanked or the underbanked, there are lots of opportunities out there. And certainly, Ripple is one of the leaders on trying to find solutions for those who don't have access to traditional banking vehicles.

ADAM SHAPIRO: When you talk about the unbanked and the underbanked, we hear a lot of criticism of digital currency, as well as cryptocurrencies. But it seems to be coming from folks who never had to deal with being unbanked or underbanked. Is there a cultural myth that people who've always been at the top are missing when we talk about digital currency?

ROSIE RIOS: Well, I think-- again, I think it's just another option that people have that wasn't available before. So whether how they talk about it or not, I think that the point is, it's a solution moving forward. And there's a lot of folks who are working on this. It is a big priority for many people out there.

SEANA SMITH: [INAUDIBLE] of Unicorn Hunters talking about bringing access to a wider number of people, talking about also potentially bridging the gender gap, a few issues here that you're looking to help resolve or help improve, I guess, I should say. What are some of the trends that you've noticed over the past year? And I guess, what excites you about the future, just in terms of some of the progress that we've made?

ROSIE RIOS: Well, certainly, access to capital and specifically for pre-IPOs, it's a very closed system. And certainly for investors to have access to those IPO opportunities is also an extremely closed system. And so what I love about Unicorn Hunters is, it's a platform that really opens the doors, both for companies who are looking to access capital and for investors who are looking for other ways to think about participating in pre-IPOs. So, you know, it's something that came my way. I jumped on it, and it's been a lot of fun.

ADAM SHAPIRO: But in the-- I'm curious in the crypto world and in the digital currency world, do women have a full seat at the table? I mean, I'm thinking of all the women who have been so crucial to this economy over the last 20 years, people like you, Janet Yellen, Sheila Bair, I mean, the list goes on and on. But in this emerging currency, are the seats represented?

ROSIE RIOS: Well, I mean, you mentioned Janet Yellen, right? I mean, she's the first female Secretary of the Treasury. And by the way, I want to make something clear about her. It's not just the highlight of being a woman. She's the first person, period, has ever held the position of chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, governor of a-- chair of the Federal Reserve, and now Secretary of the Treasury. No person has ever done that.

And so certainly this administration is making a lot of strides to make sure that women are decision makers at the table. And I do think that there's a whole world out there, especially in the VC world, where women are not at the table, whether as leaders of these venture capital firms, whether it is heading up IPOs, whether it is even accessing the capital. That is still a big issue. Now I just read this article in "Fortune" that talked about the $150 billion that VCs invested in 2020, and only 2.2% of that went to female founders. And the sadder point of that is, it's less than what women got in 2019, which was around 2.6%. So we're not trending in the right direction.